Thursday 29 September 2016


The mysterious countdown on has been partially if not wholly explained.

The band will be holding a press conference in Milan where they will presumably announce details of their new album and world tour. Will there be anything else in store? A new single to download immediately? Details of a Radiohead like super duper boxset? An album jointly produced by Alan Wilder, Vince Clarke and Ralf Hutter? Probably not, but most Depeche fans will now be entering a state of frenzied anticipation that will lead to aggressive disappointment no matter what Milan throws up. Such is life.

But we do at least now know that a day has been announced and on that day more announcements will be announced.

If you are German, you can win tickets to attend via - CLICK THIS 

More news as and when it comes in. Meanwhile, all eyes on Milan....

Tuesday 27 September 2016


I featured Aberdeen based electronic experimental artist Fiona Soe Paing last year as one of my new artists of 2015. Her debut releases were captivating and her single Heartbeat, released on Glasgow's Hot Gem Records, was a real treat. Its hypnotic feel points the way to many of the tracks on her debut album Alien Lullabies, but that only tells half the story. With this debut, Fiona has crafted a bewitching, powerful album that merits repeated listens.

What immediately strikes you about Alien Lullabies is the way it surrounds and immerses you. Opener Prelude/Meet Me Where The Rainbow Ends takes is a gentle start, taking you by the hand and leading you in the darkness, before the wonderful Tamin Sah Pade grabs you in its Massive Attack like black grasp, eerie but uplifting. It's built on a mysterious, repetitive groove, balancing its dark feel against Fiona's wonderful vocals.  Tah Stin Koh Mpor follows, like a reboot of Kraftwerk at their most alien during their Radioactivity period, an album that echoes throughout this release. Swamp Blues adds some beef to the sound with its treated vocals and Depeche Mode Songs Of Faith And Devotion era blues rock meeting Bjork's experimentalism head on. 

In general, this album has a sparse feel, but the space in the songs is perfectly judged, with each track saying plenty without overdoing anything. Ballad Of The Two Sisters and Winter's Day are perfect examples of that - both sounding like echoes of a song beamed in from somewhere else, but both captivating.  Behrot  and Roller Ghoster offer the same slightly unsettling but ultimately uplifting experience. The closing Time Clocks is the perfect end to the album, sounding like an escape from the alien atmosphere that cloaks the preceding tracks, providing hope beyond the darkness. Again, I've reminded of Kraftwerk's Radioactivity album in feel and sound and that is very much a compliment.

Scotland's electronic music scene is something we Scots should be proud of, and one of its key features is the sheer diversity of music within that very scene. With Alien Lullabies, Fiona Soe Paing has added yet another layer to the electronic music on offer in the country and she's added one of the most enthralling layers of all. Alien Lullabies is an album you really must check out. Dark, experimental and quite wonderful. Don't miss out on this one,

Alien Lullabies by Fiona Soe Paing is available now on Colliderscope. The album launch show takes place on Thursday 29 Septmeber at Stereo in Glasgow and it's free to enter so get along there. Fiona also supports Michael Rother at Glasgow Art School on Friday 30 September.

Fiona Soe Paing Official

Thursday 22 September 2016


Patience is an artist who first came to this blog's attention with the sublime The Church, released on Glasgow's ever excellent Night School Records in May this year. The two tracks on that release, The Church and My Own Invention sounded like long lost snippets of the finest late 70's/early 80's synthpop or coldwave - stark, minimal analogue slices of wonder that contained more than enough melody to make them synthpop, albeit synthpop with a distinct edge. With the release of The Pressure, Patience has raised the synthpop stakes and released what us surely the missing link between The Normal, Fad Gadget and Yazoo. Basically, this is the single Mute Records forgot to release.

This song contains every aspect of early synthpop that makes it special. The lead riff 17 seconds in is as striking as anything Vince wrote for the first incarnation of Depeche Mode and the addition of the primitive yet perfect beats 40 seconds in only serve to take the song to another level. The chorus is as joyous as you;d like and the synth lines that flutter in and out add layer upon layer of icy electronic perfection to the song. Seriously, you'll do well to hear a better song this year. Listen to it immediately then go and buy it. You need to have this.

The Pressure by Patience is released on Night School Records on 24 September. It's available on ultra limited 7" (300 copies) from Night School, Monorail in Glasgow or Norman Records. It's also available digitally too through the Night School Bandcamp.

Night School Records

Wednesday 21 September 2016


I'm kicking off a new project that will seek to give as full a record as possible of all the gigs Depeche Mode have played in Scotland. Thus far, the band have played the following shows:-

Tiffany's, Feb 21, 1982 -
Tiffany's Oct 19, 1982 -
Tiffany's Sept 20, 1983 -
Barrowlands 16 Oct 1984 -
SECC April 6 1986 -
SECC 12 Dec 2009 -
The Hydro 11 Nov 2013 -

Nite Club, 7 Aug 1981,_Edinburgh,_England,_UK
Coaster's Club Nov 2 1981 -
Coaster's Club Nov 25 1981 -
Playhouse Oct 20, 1982 -
Playhouse Sept 19, 1983 -
Playhouse Oct 18, 1984 -
Playhouse Jan 17, 1988 -

The plan is to feature brief interviews with people who were there, who were involved in the gigs and more. At this stage, I'm hoping to hear from people who were at the gigs in 1981, 1982 and 1983. Were you there? Do you know anyone who was?

If you were there, can you get in touch here, on the blog Facebook page or on Twitter (@almostprdalmost or @davidjmcelroy) ?

Thanks very much.

Thursday 15 September 2016


I make no apologies for reviewing a new Priest release almost as soon as it comes out. As you'll no doubt know by now, I'm a huge fan of this band and I genuinely think they can't put a foot wrong. This is their first full release since 2015's wonderful self titled debut, and it's a gem. There are many bands who release A-sides that don't even come close to the quality of these B-sides.

Youth, a brand new track, opens the e.p. in a blizzard of icy cool electro, bringing to mind the glorious emotional synths early OMD with a healthy dose of prime Yazoo. This track is up there with Priest's finest and encapsulates what they do best - uplifting synthpop that hits that emotional nerve that only that type of music can. We're The Same follows and, like I've said before (, it adds an edge to the band's sound which is great to hear, although it should be said that this remains a pop song and a superb one at that. The pop theme continues with Dark Sun, like Chrvches at their most bubblegum, before we end on the outstanding Don't Let Go. Imagine New Order era Confusion influenced by the Orlando sunshine rather than the New York electro club scene and you've got Don't Let Go. It's as catchy as you like and a superb end to this e.p.

And that's that. Only four songs, but four songs that immediately remind you just how good Priest are. For me, Youth is the standout here and it's proof that Priest are a band to keep an eye on. Roll on their next release I say. If Youth is the direction Priest are headed, there is surely no stopping them.

The B-Sides E.P. by Priest is available now on ITunes and Spotify. 

Tuesday 13 September 2016


In what Sony are calling the "first in a series of band approved retrospective projects," Depeche Mode's Video Singles Collection will be released on November 11, 2016. It's a 3 DVD set containing every single one of the band's videos, from the sublime (Enjoy The Silence, Walking In My Shoes, Personal Jesus and every other video from A Question Of Time to Home) to the ridiculous (It's Called A Heart, The Meaning Of Love) to Hole To Feed, an uncatregorisable video in every single sense. Let's have a look at what's on offer.

DVD cover

First up, the cover art is cool. The DM logo is a bit odd, but the use of the iconic icons is superb and has been wonderfully trailed by the band's official channels this week. 10 out of 10 for that. Content wise, you can guess what's there because, like I said above, it contains every video for every single the band have released. Over the three DVD's, that's 55 singles and many good, if not great videos. The landmark Anton Corbijn era ones stand out of course, but there's something enjoyably naive about some of the early ones, from the leather clad guys turn cocktail drinking trumpet players of Just Can't Get Enough to the clearly made on loads of drugs Julien Temple directed Leave In Silence. One of my favourite non Anton videos is Shake The Disease as that marks the precise moment the band became actual Gods.

There are bonuses too in the way of 4 additional videos:

People Are People (12" version)
But Not Tonight (Pool Version)
Soothe My Soul (Extended)
Stripped (Unreleased Alternate Cut)

I know I should have, but I've never seen that version of But Not Tonight and the Unreleased Alternate Cut of Stripped is intriguing. Soothe My Soul was not that enjoyable in its original format, so an Extended version fails to get my blood racing.

There is all new commentary from the band too, recorded this year. I usually forget to listen to commentary, but all new chat will be worth hearing. If it's like the commentaries they provided for the reissues, that'll be interesting.

One of the most intriguing things about this is Sony's assertion that it's the first of a number of band approved retrospectives. That certainly caught my eye and we can perhaps hope that more vintage Depeche stuff will hit our shelves one day. The next Singles boxset perhaps or maybe something more - who knows? It's worth keeping an eye on.

As for this release as a whole, it's going to know doubt cause the usual ructions among the fan base. The press release says that it's 55 "newly restored" videos on DVD, so I guess that means no Blu-Ray which won't go down well in some quarters. 

An essential release then? Probably not, but it's one I'll buy anyway. A whole set of the videos in one place is fine by me and the new commentary should hopefully throw up a few interesting things. Next year seems to be when the Mode machine cranks up again, so it's nice to have a starter meantime. Ok, it's maybe more of a salad than a prawn cocktail in the starter world, but Video Singles Collection should hopefully be a tasty enough prelude to the main meal served up next year. A review will follow with, I promise, no tortured food analogies.

Depeche Mode Video Singles Collection is released on 11 November 2016 on 3 DVD set. It will be available from all usual outlets.

Thursday 1 September 2016


The Violator period is my favourite Depeche Mode period, not just for the jaw dropping, awe inspiring majesty of the music, but also for the artwork. The album cover is a work of simplistic genius and the single artwork for the four singles Personal Jesus, Enjoy The Silence, Policy Of Truth and World In My Eyes is stunning. There will be time to look at these in depth later, but today, we focus on a rare 12" promo for World In My Eyes, the fourth and final Violator single. This release is my favourite Depeche 12" promo and so it's ushered into the Museo to be celebrated with all its other rare chums. 

12BONG20 12" promo - front

The first thing you see here is the stark but gorgeous cover. It's in a plain white sleeve with a sticker at the bottom. The picture on the right hand side is Dave doing the World In My Eyes sign (let's just call it that), his silhouette taken from the picture of him that appears on the rear of L12BONG20. Written on Dave is a series of five numbers and that's where you find what number your 12" promo is. Mine is 00419.

Sticker on front of 12BONG20 12" promo

Over the last couple of days, I've consulted the wise gang of collectors on the wonderful forum and Facebook page and the consensus is that there were only 500 of these promos issued, so it's a nice rare thing to have. I absolutely love the sticker idea as it gives an extra touch of magic to the usually otherwise generic promo 12" single. Also, fans of catalogue numbers will note that this release doesn't have a promo style catalogue number. There is a P12BONG20 in existence and it features World In My Eyes (Mayhem Mode Mix) and Happiest Girl (The Pulsating Orbital Mix (Instrumental)) whilst this record features the three tracks that appear on  the official release of 12BONG20, yet it's not the one called P12BONG20. A mystery eh? I accept it's the type of mystery that only applies to a tiny percentage of the world's population, but if you're reading this, it's likely that you're one of them.

12BONG20 Side A

To the music then. As you'll see above, the record is a white label promo which for the uninitiated, means that the label is blank. I'm sure you worked that out yourselves. Side A features one track, the imperious World In My Eyes (Oil Tank Mix) which is one of the finest Depeche mixes there is. Side A can be identified by the matrix that appears in the run out groove of the vinyl - 12 BONG 20 A1 PR-R Copymasters Miles B. The vinyl was mastered by Copymasters, presumably by a chap called Miles B, and distributed by PR Records, hence the PR-R.

12BONG20 - Side B

Side B features two remixes of two of the finest Depeche B-sides there are: Happiest Girl (Kiss-A-Mix) and Sea Of Sin (Sensoria). I mentioned the Violator era's general magnificence earlier. The fact that it gave us B-sides of the quality of Dangerous, Happiest Girl and Sea Of Sin is yet another reason to view it as essentially mankind's greatest ever triumph. Going back to the record above, you can impress friends and lovers alike by telling them that the matrix on the run out groove of Side B is 12 BONG 20 B1 PR-R B.

12BONG20 promo 12" - rear. 

It would bother me if I didn't add a picture of the rear of the record for completeness' sake so there you go. Not my most thrilling work I admit...

This record is a genuinely rare thing what with only 500 copies in existence and it's a step above your usual 12" promo because of the glorious sticker on the front. The fact that, unlike all the other Violator era 12" promos, it uses imagery from the official releases, makes it really special, and, if you can find one, my advice is to get it. It can be pricey though with Discogs currently offering two for sale with the cheapest at an eye watering and somewhat taking the piss £249 plus postage ( Hang on for a cheaper sale and go for it - you won't be disappointed.