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A middling sort of book...
on 8 January 2004
Given the spectacular antics of the band and the lurid hedlines that accompany said antics, it's a surprise that Mr. Miller makes so little of the human side of the DM story. Whether it's Dave Gahan's trouble with drugs or Andy Fletcher's depression, the human tradegies are passed over, acknowledged, or touched upon rather than really explored in depth, and generally this seems to be in favour of an explanation of the studio set-up, equipment reviews, and descriptions of the sounds used in individual records.
The brief author biog inside the rear cover reveals Mr. Miller to be a 'feelance writer specialising in hi-tech music interviews' and I think the book displays a passion for the hi-tech, then the music, with the people that made it being relegated to something of a third priority. For example, every time a new synth is mentioned in the text, a brief precee of it taken from a buyer's guide is re-printed on the bottom of that page. Taken from page 24, talking about a Yamaha CS5:
"In his Keyfax Omnibus Edition 'synth buyer's bible' of 1996, Julian Colbeck described this diminuitive 37-note analogue monosynth thus: Single-oscillator with clean, more than powerful, sounds. Good panel layout, multimode filtering. Safe bet.'"
All of which I'm sure is very interesting, but I was looking for a book about Depche Mode, not a second-rate 'Which Synth?' guide!
If I compare this to a couple of other rock biogs I've read recently ('Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-Year Odyssey Of The Rolling Stones' by Stephen Davis, and 'Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography Of Kurt Cobain' by Charles Cross - both available from Amazon!) I see that they focus on the people, and the reader feels that they have made a personal investment in reading the book. It takes an effort of will to read, because the accounts are at times so harrowing, but at the same time the reader cannot actually put these books down.
And that's where Mr Miller goes wrong! Everything feels detactched, at a distance, and passionless. It's well written, polished, but just a little superficial and Mr. Miller's synth 'nerd' side shows up a little too often.
C+ for effort.