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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pricey but worth it for extra discs
I received this box from an independent record store yesterday 16 April - nice to get this before release date. The album is a welcome return to form after the slightly wayward Exciter and Playing the Angel. This is classic DM; strong musically and the usual topics covered by Gore's lyrics.
*
Now to the box - it's larger than I thought it would be from the...
Published on 17 April 2009 by My pen name

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sounds of a still great Band!
After to listening to the album in it's entirety a good 4 or 5 I'm pleased to announce Sounds is not a Depeche Mode by numbers. Infact it's an interesting evolution in the band who been referred to as the techno U2.

That label may sound insulting to some especially if your view of Bono and Co is not favourable but I feel it is a fair approximation of the Mode,...
Published on 3 May 2009 by Mr. David M. Berry


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pricey but worth it for extra discs, 17 April 2009
By 
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
I received this box from an independent record store yesterday 16 April - nice to get this before release date. The album is a welcome return to form after the slightly wayward Exciter and Playing the Angel. This is classic DM; strong musically and the usual topics covered by Gore's lyrics.
*
Now to the box - it's larger than I thought it would be from the images, everything fits neatly inside. To be honest, most of the contents will remain untouched inside the box; I've flicked through the 2 books, ignored the badges and poster - what I'm really after here are the discs! I'm not a fan of 5.1 surround music; I've found it gimmicky rather than immersive. I have a couple of the DM reissues on 5.1 and have listened to them no more than once.
*
Disc 3
What really interests me with this box is the 3rd disc of demos and this does not disappoint. It's very interesting to hear how the demo songs differ from the final recorded releases. [edited to add] I was surprised that the demos aren't guitar and voice based, which is what I was expecting - these are synth + drum machine + voice; some are close to the final recordings in character and arrangement. I Feel You is slightly more edgy / dark.
*
[edited to add]Disc 2 - extra songs. Light, Gahan vocal, great song. The Sun and the Moon and the Stars, Gore vocal. Ghost, Gahan vocal, my favourite of these extra tracks, more vintage DM. Esque, short noodly intermission. Oh Well, Gahan vocal. Remixes - have listened to 6. Corrupt (Efdemin remix), 7. In Chains (Minilogue's Earth mix), 8. Little Soul (Thomas Fehlman ambient mix), 9. Jezebel (SixToes remix). tracks 6 to 8 are largely forgettable, slow trance syncopated reggae beat is how I would describe them. Jezebel gets a string section + clarinet makeover which is an interesting reinterpretation. But for me gone are the days when a DM 12" was a must-buy; I'm thinking back to the old DM and classic 12" mixes such as Master & Servant. So personally I'll listen to the extra tracks and skip the remixes.
*
Disc 4 / DVD - "Usual Thing, Try And Get The Question In The Answer" only watched 10 / 12 mins of this hour long segment of DM in the studio. Quite interesting, introduces a very large collection of analog synths!
The studio session are DM playing songs live, Stories of Old is one of my favourite classic Mode tracks, great to hear with a matured vocal from Gahan. He has really mastered his voice, great vocalist, probably doesn't get the universal credit he deserves.
*
Summary:
This deluxe box set is probably one for the fans only, who would be interested in hearing more from their favourite band. The album itself is a strong one. The extra money over the "vanilla" album for the "goodies" in the deluxe box is excessive - so definitely one for collectors / obsessives (I've been a fan since 1984 so I guess I'm in that category)
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another slow burner, 24 April 2009
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
Sounds of The Universe is an album that will reward repeated listening, as all Mode records do.

Produced by Ben Hillier, the album's overall sound will be comfortable for those who enjoyed "Playing the Angel" and less so for the rock fans who came on board with "Songs of Faith and Devotion". It is more open, detailed, and less compressed than "Playing The Angel" , and from that point of view, SOTU is a better record than its predecessor.

Lead single "Wrong" is the closest we get to the original 80's blueprint - a never ending litany of woe over a sleazy mid tempo synth fest. It's an act of song-writing bravery to pile so much repetition into a lyric, but it works.

The manifesto is set though, by the opening track "In Chains" a slowly evolving soundscape fades in from the sort of bleepy experiments so beloved of the 70's electro pioneers, before Gahan's ever improving voice slides effortlessly onto the top of the mix, backed by yet another "never before heard" take on what a guitar can sound like... a trick the Mode have continually reworked since Personal Jesus redefined them back in the early 90's.

Like all three previous studio albums, one could argue that SOTU is too long, and that the brief atmospheric interlude "Spacewalker" adds little, but over the course of 13 tracks, this album delivers for fans, although it may struggle to win new ones.

Highlights for me are "In Chains", "Wrong" "Fragile Tension" "In Sympathy" "Come Back", (possibly the stand out, but a track few other reviewers have mentioned) and "Corrupt"

Martin Gore is a supremely clever songwriter - but not always a subtle one. Some of the lyrics, as ever, are obvious and a little gauche. Long term fans accepted this years ago, (after 1984's "People are People", to be exact) and it won't change anytime soon. Similarly, the themes are well established - Love, sex, emotional alienation and existential angst; all served up with lashings of sleaze and BDSM imagery, are Gore's stock in trade.

Gahan's contribution, seemingly set now as 3 tracks per album, sits well alongside Gore's work, and this is testament in itself. Of his songs, "The Truth Is" is my favourite.

This record won't grab you by your lapels and make you love it. There is no revelatory moment such as "Personal Jesus", or "In Your Room", and this might account for the lack lustre reviews it seems to be getting. Let it seep and strain it's way in though, and you'll most likely agree that it's a worthwhile addition to the DM canon. Perhaps not their best work, but absolutely not their worst - this is a good record, and if you're a fan, especially if you enjoyed "Playing the Angel" , you're unlikely to be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unlimited potential, 8 May 2009
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
Over the years, I learned to have the faith and confidence that these guys simply won't deliver a sub-par product. Quality and depth are their belief and, in fact, they delivered yet another piece of musical art and for real - the sky is the limit for them. Since 1993, it always took me some time to adapt to their new material and this album was no exception but you just have to pay this price to be able to ultimately enjoy the pleasure this timeless music offers. Don't even try to listen to this in your car or at your work, this music simply demands its time and space. Put your headphones on only when you're capable and willing to slow down and let this music help explore the inner dimensions of yourself and experience some real chills :)

Their music is always extremely strong and Playing The Angel was for me the best work to date but this album still manages to top PTA in some aspects and it is possibly the most compact album I've EVER heard. The only thing that disappointed me a bit is that they didn't entirely incorporate the incredible guitar riffs in Corrupt shown on their youtube channel :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Depeche Mode, 22 May 2009
By 
D. Harrington (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
That was the first thought - it is certainly the familiar sound of the Mode, but that in itself is no bad thing. I would rate this album as second to Ultra - there are certainly a huge variation of styles but they are all completely unlike any other band out there. I agree with some reviews that it definitely grows on you, as some of the tracks are very subtle but there is a great deal of beauty and a lot of raw energy too. Highlights for me are the powerful "Wrong", the gentle and unusually arranged "Little Soul", the honest and open "Peace", the typically Depeche Mode "Come Back" and "Miles Away/The Truth Is" with its funky, driving beat. There are only maybe one or two tracks that don't grab your attention - perhaps Jezebel being the least strong. It's a shame that they are not as popular in the UK as they are abroad (it was a shame to see posters of their extensive tour of Germany while holidaying there, yet come back to find they aren't playing in my city!) That the Mode can continue to record albums with such quality after over 25 years is a real testament to their talent. Frankly, if you are thinking about buying it, go ahead as it's great fun and fantastic entertainment!
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 2 April 2009
By 
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
The first few times I listened to this, I was disappointed and even wrote a 1-star review elsewhere suggesting it was time for DM to give up. But then I went on a long car journey, put SOTU on rotation, and wound the volume up (you have to listen to it loud!). By the end of the journey I was flabbergasted - this is a great album and will be stuck in the stereo for some time!

The opening track "In Chains" takes a long time to get going and this might lose a few casual listeners. But be patient and you will eventually get it - and when you do the rest of the album falls into place. The pace picks up with "Hole to Feed", a decent, cynical Gahan track with a killer bassline, and then you're hit with "Wrong" - a thumping Mode rant that has you banging the steering wheel with a huge grin. "Fragile Tension" gives you a breather, with a softer melody but enough guitar noise to keep you awake.

"Little Soul" rears its little head with a very cutesy and deceptively simple refrain, and is weirdly sexy - an unusual but endearing song. This is followed by "In Sympathy", another slow burner but with a hook that eventually gets under your skin. It leads you into "Peace" - an uplifting duet musing on cleanliness and redemption. At this point you're 7 songs through and, where most other albums are about to wind down, SOTU has much more yet to give.

After dropping the tempo with "Come Back" (a noisy Gahan ballad) and the obligatory instrumental, "SpaceWalker", you have "Perfect" - another classic Mode song with a brilliant bass hook, uplifting chorus, and clever lyrics that ponder alternate existences. The third Gahan track "Miles Away" is lyrically dubious, but is rescued by a strong groove and Dave's unique vocal delivery - with what sounds like a brief Elvis impersonation! "Jezebel" is a Gore-sung dirge which initially threatens to embarrass but is saved by a pretty melody. Finally, the album finishes on a high with "Corrupt" - a charged and pervy song that leaves you uneasy about Gore's and your own sexuality, but singing nonetheless.

Throughout the album the pace is measured and confident, and the many layers of sonic and lyrical trickery pull you in deeper with each repeated listen.

Fabulous.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing - and I'm not even a fan, 14 May 2009
By 
P. A. Dourado "Phil Dourado" (Bloxham, Oxfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
I've always had a soft spot for Depeche Mode simply for the acoustic version of your Own Personal Jesus, which is a work of brilliance. But, I've never really been a fan. Just liked one or two of their songs. I assumed there'd be nothing there after 25 years - how can you still have something to write/sing/create after 25 years of writing/singing/creating? But, I bought this prompted by the reviews that suggested there was something special happening here. And there is. The retro fest the other 80s bands - Spandau, Ultravox, Durans - are tediously engaging in is old and tired. This album is incredibly new and fresh; every song an instantly catchy tune, but without the frothiness that implies. It has the usual dark (how could it not with Gahan) edges, anomie, yearning and angst, but far more grown up than ever before, and with a melodic theme running through that I don't remember from them in the past. Just brilliant song-writing. Thoughtful, edgy lyrics. And, as I say, that's not from an uncritical fan. I notice from other reviews that some DM diehard fans don't like this album. Others love it. Maybe it's for a broader audience, then. Polarised views - "It's great/It's terrible" - must be more indicative that there is something in this than a slew of 'It's good' or 'It's OK' reviews, I guess, which would suggest mediocrity. I don't often write reviews. But, this album struck me as astonishingly good, and I was surprised by the split between good and negative reviews, so I felt compelled...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's my DM forever, 5 May 2009
By 
GP (Malaysia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
I have been a die-hard DM fan from Asia region for the past 20 years... well the latest album "SOTU" isn't bad at all and not standing out like others... This is the style of DM... Don't you all get it right. It doesn't matter how the chart-topper result turn out to be, most loyal DM fans all over the world still will buy this album... I'd bought the box set, which cost me a fortune via internet. It worth every pennies of it.

At first hear the album, feeling a bit of disappointment. Gosh, just wish the old classic DM sound (pre Alan Wilder departure) aren't there anymore.
Well, i would say this album is PTA part 2, with new direction and exploration on vintage analogue machine sound...

Looking forward for the live sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sounds of a still great Band!, 3 May 2009
After to listening to the album in it's entirety a good 4 or 5 I'm pleased to announce Sounds is not a Depeche Mode by numbers. Infact it's an interesting evolution in the band who been referred to as the techno U2.

That label may sound insulting to some especially if your view of Bono and Co is not favourable but I feel it is a fair approximation of the Mode, when both bands have manage to stretch over 3 decades re-inventing themselves and taking their fan base most faithfully with them. Yes many may have dropped off when they went rock on the superb Songs of Faith & Devotion and it caused a member to leave but this band have a loyal fan base who have kept them nearly as successful as their Dublin peers.

The album introduces itself with a an analogue buzz before Dave Gahan's rich vocal takes over and the opening In Chains is undoubtedly a highlight. To think this was the guy who rather blandly sang the vocals on their early 80's hits
has now blossomed not unlike Bono (sorry with the U2 comparisons) to such performances as 2001 Exciter highlight the soulful When The Body Speaks, the years, drug addiction and a near fatal overdose which saw him die for a moment to be bought back to life, ironically seem to improved his voice no end.

Each subsequent DM album has seen his voice improve and SOTU is no exception. It does seem to have displeased a faction of fans but for those disappointed their will no doubt will be those revel in the band looking back, with the acquisition of analogue synthesisers but giving their sound a noughties flavour by using subtle stabs of guitar so the sound of their new addition isn't too anchored in their past.

The first single sees a minimalist sound as Gahan repeats the title over and over again before the song kicks in and he continues intone what is wrong, the lyrics are simple but work and its a fine single to introduce the band back to the world.

Just like on Playing the Angel was for the first time Gahan has taken song writing duties with Eigner & Philpot who collaborated with him on his 2nd solo album and is writing on PTA and one of their collaborations the lush Come Back is the best of the three on show. Martin Gore chief song writer takes credit for the remaining 10 tracks and it's the Gore penned Jezebel which is the weakest thing on offer here, considering Gore's vocals are lent to such tracks as the haunting One Caress in 93 and the highlight single of 97 album Ultra, Home. Jezebel feels like Mode on autopilot and where sometimes Gore's lyrics aren't that impressive on this track they feel particularly trite.

Gore still delivers on the first single Wrong, the cracking opener In Chains, the likely singles In Sympathy and the Kraftwerkian Peace, in fact the influence of the German electronic pioneers permeates throughout the album. The album has a natural flow to it and you will no doubt get even more benefit from a purchase of the quality 180 gram vinyl pressing over the CD version with use of the analogue synthesisers, incidentally the vinyl version comes with a copy of the CD as the package. A pricey box set not unlike the one U2 released with No Line On the Horizon is also available for you rich or completest fans out there but for my money the 180 gram vinyl version is where you will get the most benefit if we are talking primarily about the sound of this album.

Many fans may feel it's time for DM to call it a day and they have had their run but on the strength of this myself and other fans who supposedly according to some factions are responsible for this album and the fact they claim accepting any old rubbish they will continue to produce this kind of album which they have so much of a problem with. Well on this evidence if they continue to keep coming up with albums of this quality, there maybe a good few years and albums left in this band from Basildon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great effort but could have been even better!, 26 Oct 2009
By 
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
Depeche Mode sit in a unique musical space. They, like their music appear timeless. Impossible to categorise, still loyal to a small indie label despite selling 100 million albums. For nearly 30 years they have carved a niche in dark, electronic blues. Songs of religion, love and sex. It has however been the haunting vocals of Gahan and excellent, consistent songwriting of Gore that has kept them free to evolve their soundscapes.
SOTU is not quite the promised land that their huge global fan base was hoping for but it is excellent none the less. The first half of the album is in fact 5 stars but it towards the back end that stange decisions were made in the making of this record. The overall record is too long and how Space Walker, Miles Away and Jezebel were included at the expense of Ghost, Light and Esque which appear as bonus tracks in the boxset is staggering. Ghost is in fact one of DM's all time great songs and could have been a lead single. Those familiar with Gahan's excellent Hourglass may have expected a contribution as strong as Suffer Well, Kingdom or Saw Something. Come Back is nearly at this level whilst Hole to Feed is worthy but not great.

If you are new to Depeche Mode then give this a go. Their back catelogue is a bounty of treasures but I would recommend starting with Violator, Music for the Masses and SOFAD. Patience and repeated listens are required as with most great music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still going strong, 5 May 2009
By 
O. C. Rice "orice9" (South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
I have been listening to the new album for almost 2 weeks now so have really had a chance to let my brain wrap arround SOTU and can honestly say that it is one of there best offerings since SOFAD and might even be in there top 3 (time will tell) DM albums cannot be rushed, which is probably why some of the first reviews have been so scathing as they were clearly not based on enough listens and I assume the quality was not great?
Having watched the DVD that came in the LTD Box set, there is no way that you can accuse the lads of being lazy, and the quality of the songs cannot be in question as Martin had written in excess of 20 songs which had to be cut to 10 for the album. The bonus tracks in the box set will attest to the fact that he still had quite a few quality choices.

Favourite songs at the moment include the forthcoming single Peace, as well as Corrupt and the opening In Chains - The 3 song contribution by Dave and co are also good esp Come Back and the transition from Dave to Martin songs is not noticeable in any way. This is largely due to the overall sound of the album, which has been created in large part by Martins obsession with collecting vintage keyboards and various gadgets, helping to form the universal soundscape.

Overall brilliant production and songwriting meld to form yet another top notch offering from DM!
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Sounds Of The Universe
Sounds Of The Universe by Depeche Mode (Audio CD - 2009)
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