Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Your Room

By the time the mid-1990s rolled around, premier synth-pop institution Depeche Mode looked to be a spent force, mentally, physically and emotionally. Having just completed the gargantuan 18-month 'Devotional' tour in support of then-current album 'Songs of Faith and Devotion', every member of the band was affected by the insanely long trek in one way or another. Martin Gore started experiencing seizures and had to be hospitalised, Andy Fletcher suffered a major nervous breakdown, Alan Wilder expressed his increasing dissatisfaction about how his contributions were under-recognised, and perhaps most damning of all, frontman Dave Gahan descended further into the throes of heroin addiction. Of course, they did make a volte face a few years later with the release of 1997's reasonably successful 'Ultra' (albeit minus the participation of Wilder, who left the group in mid-1995), but the way things looked at the time, it would seem that this was the end of Depeche Mode, what with all the intra-band turmoil that was happening. Therefore, it was no surprise that the video clip for 'In Your Room', the fourth single from 'Songs of Faith and Devotion', was a bit of a visual band retrospective, with long-time collaborator Anton Corbijn choosing to incorporate references from past Depeche Mode videos to none too subtly hammer home the point that this might be the last ever single from the band. Check out this historic promo, which is also the final Depeche Mode clip to feature Wilder as a full-time member.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Carnival is Over

Dead Can Dance, during the course of their now-defunct career, purveyed a style of music that was like no other, defying preconceived categories and breaking down whatever generic boundaries there might be. Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry proffered an ethnic-fusion approach that took in diverse elements like sinister Goth-rock, stately medieval cantatas, swirling Middle Eastern cadences, propulsive tribal inflections and rustic Eastern European folk, making for a musical brew that is at once intoxicating, challenging, refined and cerebral. Inevitable charges of art-wankery might have prevailed, but there’s no denying the unique draw of their music. This particular, peculiar musical combination is neatly summarised in the dark-toned, ominous modalities of 1993’s ‘The Carnival is Over’, a brilliantly unusual synthesis of Joy Division’s post-punk angularity and traditional English-troubadour ballad sensibilities, ably supported by one of the most amazing, kaleidoscopic videos ever made in the 1990s.