For the second single from Delta Machine, Depeche Mode decided to go back to the formula that served them so well with Personal Jesus and released a song that attempted to sound like it and failed spectacularly.
Add to that a fairly nondescript remixes, the lack of any form of promotion and the song not even being a regular on the tour and you've got a single that was never going to do that well at really.
I bet you're REALLY excited now. Let's take a look at it.
I'M COMING FOR YOU - SOOTHE MY SOUL
Soothe My Soul was released on several different days. It appeared digitally on 6th May 2014, on CD on either the 10th (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), 13th (nearly everywhere else) or 14th (North America) and on 12" on 10th June.
When the album was released, Soothe My Soul picked up a few mentions. The Quietus somewhat enthusiastically said:
"Another up-beat, techno-pop number, and this one is very much like a deconstructed VCMG in feel. Gahan has adapted to this well - "I come to your house / I break down the door" he thunders, and it goes all helicopters before... rather surprisingly... a bollock-busting stomper of a chorus drops in. Dave has the horn! Here he is! See those leather trousers stretch! "I'M COMING FOR YOU! THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO SOOTHE MY SOUL" he cries, rather cheekily. All credit is due to leaving the new 'Personal Jesus' right to the penultimate track of the album. A classic, classic Depeche Mode track, this, they've really pulled it off here."
I do that wildly enthusiastic thing when I hear new Depeche material too. Ask me again years later and the enthusiasm I once displayed has diminished somewhat in a number of cases. Clash Magazine said:
"Soothe My Soul’ provides an improbable sequel to Personal Jesus"
Music OMH also liked the song:
"Forthcoming single Soothe Your Soul sounds like Personal Jesus on viagra, pairing echoey verses with a frenetic industrial beat and cascading deluges of synthesizer. Again, the VCMG influence feels at the fore here – lending the track a rubberiness that fits like a glove to the pre-established Depeche aesthetic."
Fair enough then - people liked Soothe My Soul. My own review at the time the album was released said:
"12. Soothe My Soul
Some say genius. Some say the new Personal Jesus. Some say an absolute embarrassment. Blandly enough I again say it's ok with a top notch shout along chorus. Imagine yourself with friends at a Depeche show, drunk, jumping around and singing along - of course that's going to be good. The lyrics are a bit odd as it sounds like Martin's breaking into someone's house for some nookie but let's presume it's all metaphorical as I'm sure it is."
My earlier point about album release enthusiasm stands.
The single spent a huge one week in the UK charts, entering at number 88 and then heading off again. It did however get to number one in Hungary so that is something. It was played live 59 times on the Delta Machine tour, last getting an outing on 27th November 2014 at O2 World in Berlin. I don't think we'll hear it again. As an aside, it's a crap title for a song isn't it?
There was a B-Side of sorts too with CD 1 featuring Goodbye (Gessafelstein Remix), a semi interesting remix of the song removing all that blue guitar nonsense. This version has never been played live but Goodbye has, appearing 35 times on the Delta Machine tour. As with Soothe My Soul, Goodbye was least heard on 27th November 2013 in Berlin when it was shoehorned into the set for the DVD release. Remember Alive In Berlin? Has anyone watched that more than once?
It's hard to write much about this as it's a performance video of sorts with the bit of nudity thrown in for no purpose whatsoever. A naked woman lies in some sand while a snake slithers about her, Dave does his stage performance, Martin looks bored and Fletch fletches the fletch out of a synth.
That really is all there is to say about this - not even a Hole To Feed reference to be made. Apart from that one.
A chap called Warren Fu directed the video and he had this to say in an interview with imdv.com in April 2013 and yes I am doing this fill up the blog as there were only three formats and the remixes are mainly all a load of old tat:
Doug: How did you get involved with the project?
Warren: My rep Nicole O'Connellsent me the track and brief with the note: "It's a good one." I had been completely booked on a few projects at the time, but I had to give it a shot. Although I'm not the biggest die-hard Depeche fanatic, they were one of the first "cool" bands I had ever heard outside of mainstream pop. My older and younger brother are both super fans, so in a way, I also wanted to do this for them. (Actually, I did it for me, so I could rub it in their stupid faces.)
Doug: What was behind the use of the square aspect ratio and how was it executed?
Warren: I had been looking at a lot of large format film photography and glass plate negatives at the time, and I think that influenced my decision to try out something with a different aspect ratio. The song felt like a return to form for Depeche Mode, and I wanted to bring back the "sexy" aspect of their music. So it's the opposite of a wide-screen epic. It's confined, intimate, and voyeuristic, as if you're watching something you shouldn't be.
Macro photography was used in creating a visceral experience. The goal was to make you feel the sweat, tension, and hair standing on end. I also liked the idea of things becoming abstractions when they are in extreme close up, and the use of black and white also helps confuse the viewer as to what exactly they are looking at. I had the shots spinning so that the viewer loses a sense of what direction is up or down, and having the equal square aspect ratio reinforces this better than a widescreen. We actually had a super extreme close up of an "innie" belly button with shadows that created the optical illusion of a nipple poking out. It made too many people uncomfortable and I was asked to take it out. I wish I had kept it in.
Wait what were we talking about? Oh right, square aspect ratio. In order to achieve this, I invented a groundbreaking new technique called "cropping," where you cut out the excess image after you've shot it. I plan on recycling the unused image for another video called "Soothe My Sides."
Doug: How involved were Depeche Mode in the overall process? Was there a lot of discussion with them about the elements that would be in the video?
Warren: They are some of the most easy going artists I've ever worked with. We pretty much stuck exactly to the treatment I wrote and they just let me do my thing. We actually only had the band for three hours the day of the shoot. They were doing an interviews simultaneously and were allotted one hour to shoot each band member. I think we ended up with just enough footage to work with. During post, they only gave us one editorial note, and then the video was approved. I think that might be a record for me.
Doug: I've heard that Depeche Mode, when performing in their videos, is insistant on actually plugging in and playing their song. Was that the case for "Soothe My Soul"?
Warren: I got word of that too, so we brought an amp for Dave Gahan to plug his mic into. He sounded great on set, and it helped to really get him into his performance. I might have to start doing that for all future videos.
Doug: Did you guys use this effect in the video?
Warren: Yes. Cornstarch, water, and a giant subwoofer. We ran out of time at the shoot, so my brother (who happens to be a photographer) and I actually shot some pickups in my living room. It's an extremely loud and messy science experiment. It took a lot of experimenting to get the right sound frequency for the non-newtoninan fluid to react in that manner. Thank goodness the world wide web has everything. You simply Bing the words "various sound frequencies" and Bing goes to work and gets you the results you need, fast.
Doug: Depeche Mode fans seem to be vary passionate about the band, did you personally get a lot of fan feedback about the video?
Warren: Yes, most of it positive. However, there was one fan who felt the need to tweet me and tell me that I didn't "get" Depeche Mode and that she missed Anton Corbijn.
There is an extended version of the video too but let's leave it for now eh?
The first physical release we got was CD 1. On the front we have a drawing of a house. Thrilling stuff.
The two tracks here are Soothe My Soul (Radio Edit) and Goodbye (Gesaffelstein Remix).The band feature on the back having a right laugh in front of the house we saw a drawing of on the front.
CD2's artwork is radically different from CD1 with both the house and the writing bigger on this sleeve. Come on Anton.
The CD itself is a different colour which is a real relief when you find yourself desperate to listen to a remix of the song, scrambling through your Depeche Mode CD mountain. "Phew," you cry, "it's the grey CD not the black one. Now I can get stuck into those sweet, sweet remixes."
And what of the 6 remixes? Well, I annoyed quite a few people last time by suggesting some remixes of Heaven were bad. Try this lot on for size:
1. Steve Angello vs Jacques Lu Cont Remix. How on earth did the use of "vs" become a thing? It suggests a clash of people not a collaboration. Anyway, remember the Jacques Lu Cont versions of A Pain That I'm Used To? Well this is not as good as them. It's fairly bland and nearly pointless
2. Tom Furse - The Horrors Remix - not much happens here.
3. Billy F Gibbons and Joe Hardy Remix - Firstly note the "and" which is much better than "vs." Secondly, that is a member of ZZ Top remixing a Depeche Mode song and I think that is rather splendid. The remix itself is fine with lots of ZZ Top type guitar appearing. Very different and rather fun.
4. Joris Delacroix Remix - bland, clubby nonsense. Next
5. Black Asteroid Remix - much more like it. Loud and very enjoyable
6. Gregor Thresher Soothed Remix - ok. Certainly the best Gregor Thresher remix of the song.
The 12" features four remixes of Soothe My Soul. Up there you can see Side A and its two tracks are:
1. Steven Angello vs Jacques Lu Cont Remix - see above
2. Matador Remix - nothing really happens here
The rear sleeve once again shows the lads having a whale of a time. STOP HAVING SO MUCH FUN DEPECHE MODE. The two tracks here are:
1. Destructo Remix - again, relatively pointless
2. Gregor Thresher Remix - not as good as the not that good other remix on CD 2.
These formats aside, there were official releases in Taiwan, once again the standard CD 2 single with a Taiwanese sticker on it and in the US where the two CD singles appeared. There was a European CD-R promo, two US CD-Rs and two UK CD-Rs too. Finally, everything was available digitally as we've come to expect by now.
That was Soothe My Soul then, a single that arrived, left and really didn't make much of a mark. Singles weren't really the band's concern in any event as the big tour was doing all the business Depeche Mode needed.
There would be one more single from the album and we'll look at that and its practical joke of a set of remixes next time.