Depeche Mode Successfully Continues ’80s Trend

El Vaquero Staff Writer

The remixes of Depeche Mode’s selected hits are very good renditions of the classic songs, often with surprising changes, yet it is nothing altogether remarkable and is certainly in no competition with the originals.

Depeche Mode, with the release of their new album “Remixes 81-04” continues its practice in the ’80s of including different versions of a song on a 12-inch single, now packaging many of their hits remixed on one disc.

“Enjoy the Silence” has been reworked with an eerie piano melody playing beneath heavily distorted guitars and released as the single on Oct. 19. The song itself has much more the mood of something dark and brooding, abandoning the quasi-happiness it once had. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda mixed the track, producing something much like that of his own project.

The album is available in one disc or two disc form; the second includes a third limited edition bonus disc, spanning Depeche Mode’s more than 20 years of music, released on Oct. 26.

The history of remixes is a bit convoluted when it comes to the placing of a figurehead; no one can be sure who began it but Depeche Mode did aid the art form in becoming something marketable beginning in the ’80s, working with emerging remixers early on in their careers who would bring the field to its current popularity.

One of those remixers is Air, which also worked on “Home,” one of the memorable tracks of the album. The song is the slowest one on the disc, infused with much of what Air does best-sweet ambience that it, as the name implies, impalpable — of what is ultimately a dance record.
Portishead, who is known more for music than remixes, worked along with Johnny Dollar on “In You Room” to produce a fantastic rendition with influences taken from equal parts of many genres.

Although the record intended to be a collection of remixed classics, it turned out to be more of a tribute album created by those who grew up listening to and were inspired by Depeche Mode. However, this does not discredit the work of the remixers or call it badly done it merely tells the song from the angle of those that have been affected musically or otherwise by the original songs.

The songs are all quite good and much of a departure from the original versions with the original melody buried deeply, almost resulting in a completely different song to those moderately interested in the band and their music.

To the familiar listener the melodies are clear, but in an unfamiliar environment allowing different textures of feeling to be pulled from the vocals.

This record would be better enjoyed by those who have been fans of Depeche Mode and would like to hear new renditions of the classics, but it might alienate the unfamiliar who enjoy very good electronic rhythms and have a liking for the darkness of vocals that in combination with the melody make songs with equivocal undertones.

Rating: * * * (out of four).