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Depeche Mode

Listening to the 24-year output of Depeche Mode brings two words to mind: "dated" and "predated." Their industrial-informed and melody-flecked hooky synth-pop has always been grounded in evolving technologies, which often made them ground zero for the substantial breadth of producers who would follow. And now, the evolution of the trio’s sound and influence has been fairly well charted on a trio of re-mix CDs. In 1998, two re-mix collections were promo’d internationally in coordination with The Singles 81–85 and The Singles 86–98 anthologies. Now those remixes have been collected and made available domestically in single, double, and "limited edition" triple-CD configurations.

Across 37 tracks, formats from simple extended edits to complete reinterpretation are showcased in the hands of progressive, trip-hop, drum ’n’ bass, and techno producers, including Daniel Miller, Air, Underworld, Flood, Dave Clarke, Portishead, Timo Mass, Danny Tenaglia, Speedy J, Jack Dangers, and Ulrich Schnauss, to name but a few. The most compelling set pieces assume two forms: they either exaggerate Depeche Mode’s intrinsic shuddering, subtly sadistic characteristics (the concussive, contorted "Master and Servant" and convex dub of "Are People People?" by Adrian Sherwood, and the bolstered, blurting kicks on "Policy of Truth" and "Personal Jesus" by François Kervorkian), or they subvert and submerge said melodrama (the blunted bob of "Useless" by Kruder and Dorfmeister or the driving weave of "Painkiller" by DJ Shadow). Surveying Depeche Mode’s two-plus decades, the three-CD collection stretches the band’s legacy a little thin. However, the two-CD set acts as a randomly ordered primer on both the band’s stylistic range and the talents of the re-mixers.

By Tony Ware

Issue Date: December 31, 2004 - January 6, 2005
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