Thursday 27 October 2016


Rodney Cromwell's The Age Of Anxiety was one of my favourite albums of 2015 and it's still one I play regularly, the dark edge to the album's synthpop remaining interesting and, importantly, hugely enjoyable after multiple plays. Fax Message Breakup comes from the album and it's a track that pays homage to New Order circa Power Corruption And Lies and that is never going to be a bad thing.

The track was inspired by Phil Collins' fax induced marriage breakup many years ago, but mercifully sounds nothing like any of his works. Instead, dark swirling synths, melodica and some quite wonderful lyrics all mix, creating a superb track and one that deserves to be heard and loved.

There are a couple of great remixes of Fax Message Breakup here too.  Happy Robots labelmate Hologram Teen remixes the track superbly, the Hologram Teen's Video Suitors Remix taking the track in a glitchy disco direction and AUW's Obsessive Perfection Remix brings more than a hint of Depeche Mode to proceedings. As a reader of this blog, (1) you'll know that appeals to me and (2) it will certainly appeal to you.

The e.p. is finished off with remixes of album tracks Cassiopeia (the Leaf Library Remix) and Baby Robot (the Chris Frain Remix) which offer cool takes on both tracks. I am a sucker for an album-track-remix-as-single-extra notion. That started off for me with Something To Do (Metal Mix) featuring  on the limited edition 12"of Shake The Disease and it's something many more bands should do.

That needless Depeche diversion dispensed with, Fax Message Breakup is an e.p. you want to have in your life. Rodney Cromwell is one of the most interesting and inventive artists there is on the electronic scene just now - you'll kick yourself if you don;t check him out.

Fax Message Breakup e.p. is available now on Happy Robots Records on cd and to download.

Happy Robots Records
Happy Robots Soundcloud

Tuesday 11 October 2016


Depeche Mode are currently holding their press conference in Milan at which they have announced that they no longer have an official hairdresser. The announcement has shocked the DM fan world, but the blow of it has been softened somewhat by some other news.

At the conference, Dave spoke briefly, more of which in a bit, but once he'd finished, Fletch asked if he'd forgotten anything. Martin said

"Is this about the hairdresser?"

Dave said

"That's right. We don't have an official hairdresser for the tour."

So there you go.

Oh, wait. There's more.

Depeche Mode have confirmed today that they will release a new album called Spirit in Spring 2017. The album will be followed by the Global Spirit Tour which starts in May, taking in 32 gigs in 21 European countries on its first leg, with most gigs being outdoor. Venues include Stockholm (tour opener), Antwerp, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, most of Germany and many more. Dave also confirmed that later legs would be announced including North AND South America.

Among the dates, there is the band's first U.K. stadium show since 1993's legendary Crystal Palace gig, with a show at the London Stadium on June 3 2017. Tickets for the first leg go on sale in the next few days. 

The band played a short film to introduce the press conference which featured snippets of three tracks. The first felt very electronic and seemed to feature many of Martin's modular synths. The next was dark and atmospheric, featuring Portishead like guitar and lots of moaning and "woo-ooh"ing. The third and final track was the only one to feature vocals. Moody, electronic music played while the words

"Where's the revolution? Come on people, you're letting me down."

repeated twice. I don't want to get carried away, but all three sounded superb. Imagine me saying that eh?

Dave confirmed that the album has been produced by James Ford and that it's an incredible record that they're all proud of. Martin and Fletch echoed that by saying "We are" at exactly the same time. The album features two songs by Dave - don't know if there's a co-wrtiter or not as yet.

The band were asked about what they intend to play on tour - Martin said "I'm sure we'll upset a lot of you." They clearly read the online forums.

The conference has now entered the fan questions stage. As ever, these are mainly odd questions, but from them we do know that the band are working with Anton for the projections and photos, plus they'll be working on a video with him. Seems he'll be heavily involved as ever.

You'll read lots about this in many other places from now on, so that'll do me in terms of a live(ish) report. If you are a hairdresser in need of work, send the band a c.v.

Here are the full tour dates:

May 5 - Stockholm, Sweden - Friends Arena
May 7 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Ziggo Dome
May 9 - Antwerp, Belgium - Sportpaleis
May 12 - Nice, France - Stade Charles-Ehrmann
May 14- Ljubljana, Slovenia - Dvorana Stožice
May 17 - Athens, Greece - Terra Vibe Park
May 20 - Bratislava, Slovakia - Štadión Pasienky
May 22 - Budapest, Hungary - Groupama Aréna
May 24 - Prague, Czech Republic - Eden Aréna
May 27 - Leipzig, Germany - Festwiese
May 29 - Lille, France - Stade Pierre-Mauroy
May 31 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Telia Parken

June 3 - London, United Kingdom - London Stadium
June 5 - Cologne, Germany - RheinEnergieStadion
June 9 - Munich, Germany - Olympiastadion
June 11 - Hannover, Germany - HDI Arena
June 18 - Zurich, Switzerland - Letzigrund Stadion
June 20 - Frankfurt, Germany - Commerzbank-Arena
June 22 - Berlin, Germany - Olympiastadion
June 25 - Rome, Italy - Stadio Olimpico
June 27 - Milan, Italy - Stadio San Siro
June 29 - Bologna, Italy - Stadio Rentao Dall'Ara

July 1 - Paris, France - Stade de France
July 4 - Gelsenkirchen, Germany - Veltins-Arena
July 6 - Bilbao, Spain - BBK Live Festival
July 8 - Lisbon, Portugal - NOS Alive Festival
July 13 - St. Petersburg, Russia - SKK
July 15 - Moscow, Russia - Otkritie Arena
July 17 - Minsk, Belarus - Minsk-Arena
July 19 - Kiev, Ukraine - Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex
July 21 - Warsaw, Poland - PGE Narodowy
July 23 - Cluj-Napoca, Romania - Cluj Arena

Following the European tour dates in Summer 2017, the Global Spirit Tour will continue with shows in North and South America.

Sunday 9 October 2016


How many times do I get asked that? Last Thursday, for example, my firm hosted a quiz for clients. I was the quizmaster and wrote all the questions. One of the answers was Just Can't Get Enough (not one for the DM purists I know) and I mentioned the band both during the quiz and in the e-mail I sent the next day thanking everyone for coming, said e-mail referencing the fact that Depeche had been mentioned more times than was probably reasonable during what was an event promoting my firm. 

One thing that surprised me that night was that many people said "Are they still going?" This was a bunch of people who, it must be said, had performed very well during my Synthpop Intros Round, all professing a knowledge of early 80's synthpop, including Just Can't Get Enough, yet none of the knew that Depeche were still going. Once I explained that they were, and I did so in the briefest way I could, every single one of them said, "Why Depeche Mode?" with a couple saying "Surely they were finished by the time you discovered music?"

Ok, that's a compliment as I'm 42 years old, but that aside, those reactions were odd.

So why Depeche Mode? What makes them stand out among all other bands? What continues to draw me to them after all these years? I adore many, many bands - R.E.M., The Pixies, The Smiths, Kraftwerk, New Order, Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails to name a few older ones, The Insomniac Project, Priest, HQFU, Machines In Heaven, Everything Everything, Nailbiter, Beliefs, to name a few newer, many of whom I've found thanks to this blog.

But, above them all, there will always be Depeche Mode. Yes, the most recent years haven't matched the highs of, say, 1986 to 1993 in terms of experimentalism as pop music, but my love for them has never wavered. Sounds Of The Universe tested it certainly, but I took that as an album being a vehicle for a tour and saw numerous shows and met numerous wonderful people, a feat repeated in 2013/14 with the wonderful Delta Machine and the even bigger number of shows I saw, catching up with old friends and making even more new ones. 

I'm not, or at least I don't think I am, one of those fans who obsess over every Depeche detail there is. You might chuckle at that, given the nonsense I've written over 4 years of this blog, but I do like to see myself as one of the more rational Depeche Mode fans. Ok, there's a huge record collection that mocks that claim, but, among the DM tribe, I'm fairly normal. My 3 shows in 5 days on the Delta Machine tour is seen my non Mode pals as the actions of a man on the brink of a breakdown. To my Depeche friends, it's seen as a less than impressive attempt at keeping up with them.

I just paused to ask myself why I'm even writing this at 00:45 am on Sunday 9 October. Well, the reason is this: I've just come home from a night out with friends where I told them about unconfirmed Depeche Mode tour dates on what may, or may not, be the 2017 tour. (I won't mention what appears to be the name of the tour here as it's not confirmed). I also, with unnecessary excitement, told me wife about it in the taxi on the way to meet our friends. I then came home, did the usual last Facebook check of the night (you ALL do that) and saw what bears to be a new official picture of the band.

And with that, all thought of sleep passed and I started hunting out information. Information that I know will be speculation until Tuesday's press conference, but information I need to have all the same. I've already set aside an hour when I should be actually working for Tuesday's press conference. A press conference by a band? A press conference where they'll no doubt announce an 18 month campaign that we could already predict about 80% of the details. But, and here's the thing, it's a Depeche Mode press conference, where new Depeche Mode information will come to light.

So why Depeche Mode?

Because no other band inspires this sort of nonsense in a man that should know better given his age
Because Enjoy The Silence genuinely changed my life
Because of Stripped
Because of The Sun And The Rainfall
Because of the last minute of Strangelove on 101 where Martin sings "Strangelove" repeatedly
Because of that harsh but glorious metal bashing sound halfway through It's No Good
Because of The Things You Said
Because of the World In My Eyes video, teasing us with World Violation footage
Because of Precious
Because of the dark perfection of Ultra
Because Violator is the single most inspirational album of all time
Because Martin brought But Not Tonight back to such heartbreaking perfection in 2013
Because of so many other things, too numerous to name here

But ultimately because they are Depeche Mode.

And that is why Depeche Mode.