A New Mode
Martin Gore began his musical career as a founding member of Depeche Mode, one of the most well-respected and much-loved electronic bands of the 80s. During that wave of the British bombardment, Gore penned and sang some of that decade’s most memorable tunes, such as “Personal Jesus” and “Everything Counts.” On his latest solo release, MG, Martin Gore is continuing to make music the same way he has for the past three decades. But Gore is no Luddite. In a recent interview Gore stated that he likes the direction technology has taken with electronic music, making it easier to make music with less equipment, although as far as his own musical endeavors are concerned Gore says, “I find it very inspirational to be surrounded by equipment.” This inspiration comes through on MG in the rich tones 80s era synthesizers have, which cannot be matched by the synthetic technology made by a program on a laptop. Although something else that provides richness to the songs on MG is that their composition was in some cases intended as original material written for future Depeche Mode releases, until they didn’t make the cut. Not because they are not worthy of the album, but because Gore and his writing partner, Depeche Mode vocalist Dave Gahan, often have much more material than they need.
Longtime fans will appreciate Gore’s desire to remain steeped in the ways of old. The beats, samples, and analog sounds are crisper and more audibly tangible, as compared to many of the electronic tones being cut and pasted together today. MG’s sprawling sixteen-strong all instrumental tracklist begins with the softly layered synths of “Pinking” and then rolls into its darker and alien-sounding counterpart “Swanning,” which compared to the former’s sprightliness is dark and dense.
MG ambles along in its own atmospheric essences for most of its middle period, which could throw off listeners looking for the hooks and insightful lyrical harangues which Depeche Mode are known for. “Crowly,” though it is nowhere near the fugue which full-blown Depeche Mode bring, may in fact be the closest thing on MG to a synthesizer riff that could be found at the heart of a Depeche Mode song.
At its core MG is Gore’s and Gore’s alone. It’s stripped down and often stolid instrumentals are on the opposite shore of where he is from. This is music made by a mature artist, later in his career, not as an attempt to distance himself from what made his name, but rather perhaps to prove to himself that he still possesses the same raw creativity which he poured into the songs that made his name so many years ago. We should feel honored that he has let us listen.