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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Vinyl|Change
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 April 2012
Improbably, this collaboration between half of Depeche Mode's 1981 lineup - the effortless popstrel Vince Clarke whose every release has been, incessant, almost oppressively cheerful and the latter, naunced king of mild bondage miserabilism Martin Gore - take a brief break from their day jobs in respectively Erasure and Depeche Mode, to explore a silent first love.

Both of them have, in their ways, explored the power of technology over the past three decades : Vince drawn always to the brighter, sunshine of analog synths, easily creating delicate structures of jauty, fast paced, and melodic pop where it always April 1984. Gore, on the other hand, gave the world such feelgood tunes as "Shake The Disease", "It's No Good", and "Enjoy The Silence", melding an immaculate production with a fetish for minor keys and chords, and vocals that try to make a disco out of an existential crisis. So... what you might expect with VCMG is an almost of literate, retro-futurist, morbid pop? No such luck.

Immaculately produced, VCMG is a dense hour of electronic exploration : the material - 10 or so pieces of instrumental motifs - created by email and from thousands of miles apart, sounds like a determined single entity. The undulating tones and rhythms could be a particularly fond return to form from a mid-range electronic outfit that makes a small living.

The pounding, slightly threatening "Lowly" begins the album : like all of this, made on old-fashioned, customised synthsets, tweaked and bent, with longstanding, elegant melody lines and immaculate rhythms, it sounds like the unholy, lovely union of two very different minds, with jaunty drums and melancholy strings, and a joy through repetition that only repeated exposure can bring.

"Spock" is utter Depeche Mode. The nearest compartor are the kind of luxuriously rich sounds they were making ten years ago. Over the course of an hour and ten tracks, there's no chance of everything being a standout - "Zaat" and "Flux" aren't the most rewarding listens of all time, but "Windup Robot", and the wonderfully titled "Skip This Track" are entertaining, rewarding diversions from the day jobs of being maudlin popstars.
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on 3 April 2012
The novelty of VC and MG combining to produce a techno album was bound to get me to part with my money. The funny thing is, they didn't meet or even talk while making the album - which sounds rather like the recording of the second Yazoo album. Vince has always been a great collaborator - especially for someone who is notoriously prickly - think The Assembly, Yazoo, Erasure, that thing with Martyn Ware. But don't think about those examples too long, because this isn't like them at all. SSSS, named for the sound of hissy electronics favoured by Vince, is exactly what you want to hear at 2am in a club when you are wanting to feel the music as much as hear it. It is all 4/4 bass drums, sequencers set to stun, slow build-ups and heavy duty breaks. Martin doesn't sing. He doesn't wear a black dress (well, he might have, but it isn't on display here). It's as unlikely an album as you will buy this year, and one of the most likeable.
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on 29 March 2012
I agree with one of the reviewers who said they yearned for some vocals on first listen (Although, I'm not sure Dave Gahan's voice would go with the music). It does initially come across as a bit samey but after a few listens, it almost blends into a continuous piece of music, like a really uptempo Tangerine Dream remixed by Underworld. Although I bought the album because it was Vince and Martin, I've not let their baggage affect my view - it doesn't sound much like anything either of them has done before and good on them for stepping out of their safety zone. It's a fun album, great to listen to and very danceable.

I'm guessing you'd call it "techno" and other reviewers have complained about it being samey and like other "techno" artists but so what? I've listen to a lot of techno over the years and find a lot of it very identikit and lacking in any real personality. Listen to some compilation mix albums and it's hard to tell where ends and begins.

So, ignore the fact it doesn't sound like DM or Erasure and enjoy it on its own merits, it's worth it.
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on 7 April 2012
The collaboration of Martin gore and Vince Clarke is stunning. The evolution of the depth of electronic music makes me wonder what these two would have done together for the last 30 years after Speak & Spell.
Get this cd, you won't be disappointed ;)
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on 7 February 2013
I love Depeche Mode and found this album to be a major departure from them. However, there is a real texture to the sound and is worth persevering with as it gets better with more listens. Sophisticated, unusual and layered. Like a fine wine, not to be rushed but worth savouring.
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on 17 January 2016
Electronica at it's very best. I am notorious for making covers of Depeche Mode tracks as Marky Spark but I will leave these amazing tracks of electronica alone as they are truly superb analogue electronica. OOOoops! did I say electronica again, Yes because it's not Techno. I don't know any other two people that could come up with such greatness. I have met Vince twice and never spoke to me once lol The album is a must buy and every track is different it does not blend and get tiresome it keeps you awake. My favourite tracks are Flux, Skip this track and Spok....infact all of them are great.
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on 13 April 2012
Let me be clear on this for you: I am a dance music fan and like what people refer to as "repetitive techno". I see a lot more in the structure of such compositions than the casual pop fan. I am not a fan of Erasure (I prefer Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode) but I am a real fan of this album. I suspect however that Erasure fans will not be so enthralled as there are no lyrics to speak of but some brilliantly teutonic beats. This goes for every track. Its well thought out and atmospheric / evocative hard sounding European dance music. If Pet Shop Boys came out with even a side project this good I would be very proud. Alas they probably won't either, despite the fact that it would give them the edge they need back. Erasure and Martin L Gore/Depeche Mode fans SHOULD BE proud. I suspect many of them wont be and that's a shame. We don't all have to be dancing on podiums making "big box little box" shapes t appreciate excellent dance music, with an edge. This should do well in Germany and well done them for buying it. Its fantastic stuff.
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on 21 March 2013
I've been to a lot of clubs. I know what works on a floor. This is head down four am techno. Yes, it's repetitive, but that's the point, it's so you can get in the zone. This sort of music is all about texture and deepening levels of consciousness - getting bugged out on a freaky sound effect. This is quality throughout. Well produced from start to finish - you can tell they have some good equipment. I'd love to hear it on a thunder ridge sound system. It reminds me in places of Richie Hawtin. Yes, some of the sounds are a little retro, but it feels self referrential, like a nod to their haydays. Hawtin often throws in such sounds into his sets. On the flipside, some of the other grooves are bang up to date. Damn good going for some old boys! It would be even better if it was mixed. Stand out tracks are 'Bendy Bass' and the ironically titled 'Skip this track'.
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on 16 March 2012
I have just listened through this album the second time and I'm enjoying it a lot! The album has a coherent sound to it, with just little hints of the two members pop groups.

I like the whole idea of the album: two of the electronic pop musics most successfull producers and songwriters, who happened to work together some twenty years ago, are toying around new tracks without the pressure of their established bands, and I can hear that they must have had hell a lot of fun creating this album!

As for musical reference, if I want to be harsh, I could say I can hear some early Trentemoller references, but honestly, the album stands for itself, it's a great listening and dancing techno album. I hope it freed both parties minds and that we will get even more open minded pop albums delivered for Depeche Mode and Erasure in the future.
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on 16 October 2014
Just amazing - I occasionally listen to techno and house and wouldn't call myself a expert and think the tunes are ten a penny - I souly bought this on the fact it had the depeche mode connection - and that Vince Clark is a established artist with probably one of the best arsnals of synths (the cabin) i knew this would be quality and I wasn't disapointed!
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