(Planet Me)
Monday, May 04, 2015

The popular cliché is that Alan Wilder was the talent in Depeche Mode. That Martin Gore merely wrote songs, Alan Wilder gave the band its sound, and when he left, they had to build a huge production team of hired help to impersonate Wilder's absent touch. Bunkum. A late period creative resurgence from Gore has seen three Depeche Mode albums and world tours, alongside two solo(ish) instrumental albums in the past decade, whereas many of his once-peers in their mid-fifties have slowed to a creative crawl.

“MG” follows on from 2012's VCMG, with fifteen instrumental throbs that clearly show Gore's skill as a producer, and in reaching an atmosphere has been sorely under-valued. The evocation of sound and texture, which Depeche have relied on both in song and in the interstitial interludes that have become part of the bands body of work, is here in spades. Freed from the conventional song structure, Gore explores, and make no mistakes, this is not pop music. It's not built on structure, but on a feeling, an idea, a sound, and material like “Pinking”, “Swanning” and “Elk”, amongst many others, aren't cylical in nature, and the sound just swoops and pounds over you, in sometimes formless, often unpredictable waves. “Europa Hymn” is the nearest thing to a single, but that's still a far way behind an old Depeche Mode b-side in melody, instead, like the rest of the record, MG is a record you listen to, not a set of songs you follow, an experience you lose yourself into, the soundtrack to intense activity like programming, not a casual experience to sing to at the kitchen sink. Hard listening. Not easy.

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