// Album Recommendation

Depeche Mode

Delta Machine

(2013)

“The angel of love was upon me
And, Lord, I felt so small
The legs beneath me weakened
I began to crawl.”

Delta Machine by Depeche Mode

Thirty-two years into their career, British synth pioneers Depeche Mode released their thirteenth studio album, Delta Machine, produced by Ben Hillier, who also produced 2005’s excellent Playing The Angel and 2009’s solid Sounds Of The Universe. As the album title suggests, the music on Delta Machine is a mix of the Delta Blues (named after the Blues music originating from the Mississippi Delta) and Electronica. This unique combination of Blues guitar riffs and dark, brooding and atmospheric Electro sounds has always been an interesting concept with which main songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Martin Gore has repeatedly worked wonders. As with the two previous albums, lead vocalist Dave Gahan also co-wrote three tracks for Delta Machine.

A lone, synthetic bass beat announces the arrival of opening track Welcome To My World and Dave Gahan singing “Welcome to my world / Step right through the door / Leave your tranquilizers at home / You don't need them anymore”, presumably implying that by immersing yourself in the music of Delta Machine, you’re stepping into the church of the preachers that are Depeche Mode, a musical and spiritual haven. Now, while the word “preaching” has a negative ring to it, it would be a shame, if that's how it's perceived in this particular case. Even if they frequently use words such as “soul”, “angel”, “holy ghost” and "pray", Depeche Mode is not a group that’s about preaching, but they do aim to make the listener experience a spiritual high by way of soulful performances and their own real-life hardships (Dave Gahan’s near-lethal drug use; Martin Gore’s alcohol abuse). Just listen to Welcome To My World's elevating chorus.

The intense and edgy Angel seemingly wallows in the masochistic, painful memories of the day Dave Gahan overdosed on Heroin on the front yard of his L.A. home in the early ‘90s (”The angel of love was upon me / And, Lord, I felt so small / The legs beneath me weakened / I began to crawl”) and was pronounced dead before being revived shortly thereafter. In the interim, he had an out-of-body experience in which he - in retrospect - felt a piece of mind he hadn’t felt in ages, as conveyed by the redemptive chorus: ”Oh, leave me here / Forever more / I found the peace / I’ve been searching for.” Dave Gahan sounds like a world-weary preacher on the slightly Gospel-flavored, dust-coasted Heaven, which may not sound like an obvious choice for a lead single, but it's a slow-burner, a simmering and smouldering number with a soulful quality, equal parts vintage and modern, that makes the song timeless. Broken's easy-flowing, irresistible melody and addicting chorus - as well as polished yet crisp production - is instantly likeable, much like Playing The Angel's first single, Precious.

Secret To The End features an elegant synth motif that moves along in a sinuous manner, like an ominous snake approaching, and Soothe My Soul's pulsating beat pays respect to Personal Jesus (off 1990's Violator). The edgy and unrelenting Soft Touch/Raw Nerve is Industrial Electro, and Should Be Higher floats on a wistful cloud of a chorus. Based on a simple, minimalistic backing track and synth loop, My Little Universe is all repressed intensity, a tension gradually increasing, until it reaches its climax and comes to an abrupt end. Delta Machine received mixed reviews at the time of its release, but the album deserved to be recognized as Depeche Mode's most intriguing and accomplished work since 1997's Ultra.

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