Following last week’s release of Delta Machine, Depeche Mode has debuted a video for another single, “Soothe My Soul.” Directed by Warren Fu, it includes reptiles, tastefully shot nudity, and some of the more suggestive shots of recording consoles we’ve seen. In other words, the band may have a rather…physical…soothing of the soul in mind.
With Depeche Mode’s new album dropping at the end of next month, the band has offered a look and listen at Delta Machine with the video for “Heaven.” A disturbing montage of Silent Hill-style imagery remixed by way of Dalí, Goya, and Bosch plays as Dave Gahan sadly croons. Check it out below, as well as a video of the band working in the studio.
“Take Me Back Home”
For more than two decades, Depeche Mode front-man Dave Gahan was content being the impassioned voice behind the songs of bandmate Martin Gore, whose edgy, genre-stretching synth pop dominated the ’80s club scene and landed unapologetically on ’90s alternative-rock radio. But since 2003, the singer’s distinctive baritone also has served a more personal purpose, fueling the release of his first two solo albums and, in May, his first collaboration with English production duo Soulsavers.
For Gahan, the evolution may have been inevitable.
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“Rolls Bayce (Hudson Mohawke Remix)”
If the appeal of a cover tune rests on an artist’s ability to emulate a preexisting song and bring new flavors to it at the same time, then the remix is something of an estranged relative. With remixes, the implicit goal is to stretch an existing piece of music as far as it can possibly go. Remixers are thus encouraged to let their musical personality eclipse the composer’s. They are essentially hired to take risks, to reconstitute, and to deconstruct — even altogether ignore — the mood, structure, and musical components with which they’ve been given to work.
The end results often qualify as works of art unto themselves, yet they also exist more or less as novelty items. Arguably, few remixes connect with more than a limited niche audience — even for fans of groups like Massive Attack and Depeche Mode — and the thought of a group of remixes working together within the larger framework of a full-length album remains an anomaly.
But that isn’t stopping experimental rock trio Battles from trying.
In May, Depeche Mode front-man Dave Gahan delivered powerful vocals on Soulsavers’ The Light the Dead See, a collaboration that bred soulful melodies with feel-it-in-your-bones lyrics. On its latest production, the British duo — comprised of Rich Machin and Ian Glover — painted a moving portrait achieved with a variety instruments, from strings to organs and choir-like backing vocals. Even Gahan’s harmonica can be heard on several occasions.
Boom Bip: “All Hands”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Boom_Bip_All_Hands.mp3|titles=Boom Bip: “All Hands”]
Ever since his loop-based beginnings, Bryan Charles Hollan — known better as experimental hip-hop artist Boom Bip — has been on the search for his optimal live-band incarnation. He seems to have found it.
In 2002, Seed to Sun demonstrated Hollan’s ability to make compelling organic and instrumental hip hop. On his recordings since that time, nearly everything has been performed by hand, and the results have been admirable — but nothing has clicked quite like his newest effort, Zig Zaj.
Now Hollan is armed with a permanent live band, consisting of Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Eric Gardner (Gnarls Barkley, Charlotte Gainsbourg), and Josiah Steinbrick. Their chemistry is immediately evident on Zig Zaj, which also sports standout guest spots from Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand (for one very Depeche Mode track), Money Mark, Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun), Cate Le Bon, and Mikey Noyce (Bon Iver).
Partly because of the guests, the new material takes a poppier and more rock-driven direction. But there’s still plenty of the old Bip underneath, as synths and electronics commingle with the bass grooves and delicate acoustic riffs. ALARM caught up with Hollan to find out more about the evolution of his band and what projects he has in the works.
Tell us about the evolution of the live band. How has that affected or led to what we’re hearing on Zig Zaj?
The evolution of the live band has been like creating a new breed of dog. I’ve constantly been trying to fine-tune it to something enjoyable for me. This time, though, I got it right. The current live band is fantastic. With Zig Zaj, I certainly had the live show in mind when constructing the tracks. As a result, intensity became part of the equation, and you can hear that in the tone of the songs.
Coming out of the collaboration with Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals (as Neon Neon), what made you decide to scale back the dance elements for the new album?
The Boom Bip albums have always been more about the moment and trying to not have any limitations or concern for genre. I just let whatever comes out come out. I don’t really think, “What genre does this fit into and what bin will this sit in at the record store?” Although it has become a game for me to see where it is placed. I’ve seen my album in everything from rap to avant-garde.
†‡†: “Goth BB”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Ritualz_Goth_BB.mp3|titles=†‡† (Ritualz): “Goth BB”]
Morrow: Verbalized and alternately written as Ritualz, †‡† is an unnamed man from an unknown location, making a relatively dark and/or Gothic version of electronic dance music. He has been lumped with the “witch house” scene, which also has been dubbed “drag,” “haunted house,” and a few other things.
His sound is comparable to contemporaries like Salem, oOoOO, Mater Suspiria Vision, etc., and he’s far from the only one with the very-difficult-to-Google name. There’s also I††, ▲▲▲, and other random combinations of symbols.
PVT: “Light Up Bright Fires”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/PVT_Light_Up_Bright_Fires.mp3|titles=PVT: “Light Up Bright Fires”]
[Stream all of Church With No Magic on PVT’s website.]
Morrow: Formerly known as Pivot, Australia’s PVT was formed as an improvisational quintet in the late 1990s before transitioning to an electro-rock trio. The group maintained a number of experimental, freeform elements, but it focused on synth grooves and a mixture of live and digital beats.
Its new album, Church With No Magic, is its most composed yet, seemingly dropping the improv parts while delivering some major pop melodies and vocal hooks.
Hajduch: Most of this album sounds huge and energetic, and surprisingly unique for how boldly the band wears its influences on its sleeve. The echoed vocals of the title track, in particular, sound exactly like Suicide without coming off as mimicry. (The best example of Suicide worship, by the way, is The Cars‘ “Shoo Be Doo,” which is terrifying and unexpected.)