Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Depeche Mode Instrumentals

While this British rock institution might be better known for massive electro-pop hits like "Enjoy the Silence", "Personal Jesus", "I Feel You" and "Strangelove", another side of Depeche Mode is hardly talked about: their ability to craft incredibly atmospheric instrumentals. Or more accurately, multi-instrumentalist and production whiz extraordinaire Alan Wilder's ability. A little elaboration is probably needed here.

While guitarist Martin Gore remains Depeche Mode's primary songwriter, it was keyboardist and arranger Wilder who came up with such brilliant compositions like "Stjarna", "Sibeling", "Kaleid" and "Memphisto", all done during the band's heydays of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Dodgy, pretentious titles aside, these tracks remain the most provocative numbers in the Depeche Mode repertoire: far removed from the histrionics of the vocal tracks with Dave Gahan, they are elaborately constructed, studiously written instrumentals that work very well within the experimental electronic-film music context, filled with measured dramatics and quiet, foreboding passages.

However, the most striking of all of Wilder's instrumentals with Depeche Mode has to be his elegant and virtuosic reading of the Adagio Sostenuto (first) movement of Beethoven's immortal Piano Sonata No. 14, otherwise known to laypersons as the Moonlight Sonata. Wilder manages to infuse this done-to-death classic with a tranquil yet elegiac aura, taking little liberties with the main melody and giving it just the right, appropriate measure of nocturnal atmospherics and aching melancholia. It all adds up to the perfect sonic nightcap before you call it a day...or it can even be utilised as an ideal unrequited-love song, since Ludwig had dedicated it to one of his students, the 17-year-old Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom he was in love (a one-sided love, that is).


Blogger sashi said...

Did not know about the Beethoven connection. Interesting....

12:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home