Various Artists "Synthesizer tribute to Depeche Mode"
A sunny midsummer evening two and a half years ago I was stunned by a festival-concert. Four Basildon lads had just performed a seamless & professional one, still with their hearts out in the open for the audience to embrace. My love for Depeche Mode (DM) thus was set in stone. I love spacesynth too by the way. Imagine then my delight in discovering Spacesound Records' plans about assembling the top notch of spacesynth artists to make their own cover versions of handpicked songs of DM! Finally the album is out. Now, does Spacesound succeed in meeting my great expectations, by taking me back to the state of that summer night made possible by such quality and passion?
By keeping the spirit of Depeche Mode alive being true to them, and by the artists being true to themselves, I feel they do! For starters, Vanello scatters hints and genuine DM samples throughout his versions of "New Life" and "Puppets". These two songs are early works composed by Vince Clark before he left for Yazoo & Erasure and Martin L. Gore took over that task, and thus are in a style that fits Vanello's happy soundscape perfectly.
Vanello along with Galaxy Hunter and Marco Rochowski dominate the release by providing more than one song. I guess there are others with me that are very happy to see Marco back on the scene, considering the popularity of his pioneeric Macrocosm albums (in cooperation with Anders Lundqvist). Well as usual he delivers from the top shelf, and yep "I just can't get enough" and definitely "Enjoy the silence" (at 1:00 minute into it in particular=). Words have it that this may not be the last time we hear vocals in Marco Rochowski's songs...
Galaxy Hunter gets the party started with "Black Celebration", and keeps it up by being evenly spread throughout the tribute featuring "Behind the wheel" and "Everything counts" as well. They know exactly how to do that with their contemporary trance-influenced party-sound. It works quite well here since the melodies are these legendary sing-alongs. Cyber Space surprises me with his best material to date, a pleasant spacesynthish interpretation of "Strangelove", and Space Project excels again their high-quality clean sound on "Photographic". Not unlike many other spacesynth albums the nachspiel-music is included at the end, by A.M. Samurai, maybe the best we have at creating atmospheric slows. His "The things you said" implies, let's say, a party with a happy ending :)
On the flaw-side, I mentioned Depeche Mode are from the heart of England and got the language in with their mothers' milk. I can't escape the impression that the album suffers from the same weakness as many italo disco artists; their English doesn't measure up. And it becomes especially obvious when some of the artists try to cover David Gahan's voice. Swedish vocalist Daniel Pettersson comes the best out of it, especially in his guest-starring on A.M. Samurai's "The things you said". The mesh of Alexandra Koszewska's voice and vocoders in Vocoderion's "Stripped" is wicked though.
Indeed, when making their own interpretation of the voice by applying the beloved vocoders it works out smoothly. Dreamtime takes one of my favourite DM songs "Never let me down again" to a whole new level through thrilling vocoders and epic improvisations, all in a playful yet evidently focused manner, while Staffan Öhman polishes up an almost forgotten and dusty old gem to shine by using his trademark vocoders and sound ("No Disco"). That sound meaning authentic but upgraded 1988-Laserdance sound, even with sample from "Battle Cry", oh yeah!
At the other end of the spectre, one of the advocats for new developments of the spacesynth genre, Krzysztof Radomski known as Protonic Storm, may be accused for taking the easy way out with hardly any vocals at all. Nevertheless, when they first occur they kick some butt! His well-known characteristic rusty synth-lead fits "Rush" perfectly, nice. The plethora of different styles provides the variety missing in some other spacesynth albums, the common denominator still being the soul of Depeche Mode. To elaborate on my algebra, the numerators being different high-class spacesynth-artists add up to a sun-sparkling whole. The highest numerators are to me the last three mentioned tracks, with the fourth as a good runner-up. In addition to high quality and thoroughness, those are also the most daring.
I remove one alien however, as some vocals might be the one handicap that hampers an eventual success in the Depeche Mode community. But in the spacesynth community it already is, and beats "whatever movie themes or synthesizer world hits Koto played" once upon a time. On that note I think my message should've come accross.