An In Studio Performance of Broken by Depeche Mode

There is lots of trainspotting for all of us techno heads in this in-studio performance of Broken by Depeche Mode.

Check out the Teenage Engineering OP-1, Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizer, Oberheim OB8,  Korg MS20 and Korg MonoPoly synthesizers. Not to mention, the tasty Eurorack modules that have been seen in pictures of the Delta Machine studio sessions. 

With all that said, this is also one great song and I really liked this performance.  Martin L. Gore and David Gahan sound amazing too.
Depeche Mode Live - in-studio performance
For more on Delta Machine click here.

A Fanboys Review of Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine (Deluxe Version)

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My oldest and closest friend was amongst the first of my circle of friends to put his ears on this LP.  When I finally discovered it, he joked that he was surprised it had taken me so long to find it. Good things come to those who wait, though. However, he was quick to provide me with highlights of the album. Thanks, my good friend!

His initial observations of Delta Machine highlighted that perhaps something was missing. I joked that perhaps it was Alan Wilder! Though we both know that’s not really it, right? So, I was left pondering what he meant as similar comments have appeared in other reviews too.  Heck, I even started to believe it, though only for a moment.

The funny thing is a few days later he responded that the album had grown on him and that he was really starting to like it. I quickly remembered he had said the same things about Radiohead’s OK Computer about a decade before. And guess what? It became amongst one of our all time favorite albums.

Most good albums take a while to grow on you. Delta Machine is no exception in my estimation. This album has been on constant rotation. I have only taken a break from listening to it when playing Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s English Electric. Yet another gem, for sure.

I don’t know that Delta Machine will ever rival the likes of A Broken Frame, Some Great Reward, Black Celebration, Violator, Songs of Faith and Devotion or Music for the Masses. Those albums are tied to another decade. They are tied to a different time in my life. It is an era I think of fondly but I’m not so sure I want to recreate it or, for that matter, have my musical idols do so either. Those great albums are tied to a different time in the members of Depeche Mode’s lives too. They have moved on and so should you!

Like lazy comparisons, I think people get caught up in reviewers high expectations of new albums from bands that have been at it for well over 3 decades. They expect that same feeling they had during their youth. They expect each track should be a radio hit. I am not as convinced this is a necessity anymore. Especially when we can connect with artist so quickly via the web.

I’m not a Hipster nor a young music consumer. Some magazines and critics have highlighted that these consumer segments might not find this new Depeche Mode album has enough pop sensibilities to offer. That perhaps, it is more blues than pop and the implication that this might now be a good thing for the music-buying public. I say, and will argue, that Depeche Mode has already done the pop thing. Haven’t they already proven themselves to be pop icons? Why do they need to be all those things to all those people now.

Delta Machine is exactly the album I expected from Depeche Mode right now, in the year 2013. It is exactly the album I expected from them after the Martin L. Gore team up with Vince Clarke for their VCMG project. The album that should be with David Gahan now sharing some writing duties with Martin Gore.

I expected lots of analog inspired tracks. I wanted an abundance of synthesizer, and Delta Machine has plenty of it. Pictures of their studio during the making of this album highlight the usual suspects of a rack full of ARP 2600’s, the Eurorack modules, Moog Memorymoog, the Moog Minimoog and a few other analog classics too. Apparently, Martin Gore has rediscovered his passion for the analog family of synthesizers. You can even hear a few lo-fi sounding analog drum machines, like on Heaven, for example.

With all the analog synthesizer goodness on this LP, there are still several piano samples and of course the now signature blues guitar sound of Martin Gore.

Delta Machine is filled with plenty of the dark sophistication I have grown to love of my musical idols. You can read into all those reviews comparing to or longing for something from the past. Though I think if you can convince yourself that nostalgia is not always a good thing, you will grow to love this album as I have.

Some of the standout tracks for me so far are as follows:

  • Slow
  • Broken
  • Welcome To My World
  • Should Be Higher, Always
  • All That’s Mine
  • My Little Universe
  • Secret to the End

Delta Machine is out now on Columbia Records.

Daniel Miller Talks to Tara Busch About the EMS Synthi 100 (Synthesizer) & Short Circuit

I mean, wowza! I can’t stop thinking about Short Circuit and all those amazing artists in one big festival.

Ahhh, Daniel Miller… for me, he signified and typified a very unique sound which I had never heard before. A sound that has been exhaustively reproduced or even cloned in fact. His output, though, occurred at an original point in modern history. It was my modern history. It was also an important era for the commercialization of the synthesizer. Around this time the synthesizer had reached critical mass. It moved rather quickly, but Mute and all its artists always managed to remain just slightly below the commercial pop or as I refer to it, “Pap.” Mute Records became quickly accepted in my personal suburban America. The truth is, in my case, it was a complete obsessive desire to always want to hear more, more, more from the Mute artist. Whether he was waving the flag for electronic pop and experimental sound is not clear! Whether it was The Normal, Silicon Teens, Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure or any multitude of other artists his iconic stature will always be vital in history of electronic sound.

I found this Part 1 of an interview with Miller. The interviewer is Tara Busch and she is an artist I have always been fond of. Also check here in our Girls With Synthesizers section for some more on Tara Busch.

Mute Short Circuit Festival – Daniel Miller on rescuing an EMS Synthi 100

Excerpt from The Quietus:

Did the speed of technological advance affect things?

The technology was moving already. Part of our lot, the Synth Britannia lot if you want to call it that, we got on board the technology moving train, and it carried on moving. Originally you had to play everything by hand, then pretty soon basic sequencers were around, then basic computers, it all moved pretty quickly. There were things like the Roland MC4 that came along in 1980, 81, which was a very basic computerized sequencer, which was available to people who’d had a hit – it was expensive, but not super expensive. One of the natures of people who want to create new sounds is they want new synthesizers to figure out ways of creating those new sounds. So you’ll notice, including me and the Human League and various others of those groups, we all started off with one little synthesizer and ended up with fucking banks of them. I don’t really know any of those other guys that well, but we’ve always ended up accumulating things over the years. I don’t really collect synths, apart from my one purchase which is the Kraftwerk synth.

How long did it take to master your first Korg? (speaking of the Korg 700s)

I was doing stuff day one. It was pretty simple, I was immediately recording, right from the word go, and I was learning as I went along. On that particular synthesizer they used very odd, unconventional terminology that didn’t relate to what you’d normally use. That was the first synthesizer I had so I thought it was the industry standard terminology, terms like ‘traveller’, ‘expand’ but nobody used that apart from that synth, and I had to relearn all that.

Also, check out this great Daniel Miller interview at Sound on Sound (from 1998) here.

A Brief History of the Minimoog Monophonic Analog Synthesizer (1970-1981)

It’s like an infomercial, really! Nonetheless, it’s a chance for the Moog and synthesizer fiends to watch some great musicians play the Moog Minimoog and hear once again, why the Moog Minimoog was such an important instrument for Electronic, Jazz, and some long-haired prog-rockers.

The Minimoog (a monophonic analog synthesizer) was invented by Bill Hemsath and Robert Moog. It was orginally released in 1970 by R.A. Moog Inc. (Moog Music after 1972), and production was stopped in 1981. The Moog was re-designed by Robert Moog in 2002 and released as the Minimoog Voyager.

Also, if you want to see Martin L. Gore (Depeche Mode) with his Minimoog go here.

From Youtube:
Follow the life of the Minimoog Synthesizer from its inception through its prolific contributions to popular music throughout the last 4 decades.

In this first installment documenting the journey of the Minimoog synth through the 1970’s, we explore the musicians and the people that were instrumental in bringing the instrument to prominence. We also sit with one of Moog Music’s earliest engineers, Bill Hemsath, who recalls the process of the Minimoog’s birth and sheds some light on what sets the Moog synthesizer apart from other analog synths.

See more Moog history here: http://www.moogmusic.com/legacy

The Weekly LP & Singles Platter, Please!

This is the weekly installment where we recap what we’ve been spinning at The Synthesizer Book headquarters during the week. If it’s on this list, it got played more than once!

I learned a hard lesson these past couple of weeks. You should keep things simple in the studio. Complex routing and lack of knowledge for recording gear can kill a session dead in its tracks. That was my punishment this week. Always at the moment when the drums are hitting hard and you’ve gotten all the synths tuned up too. Keeping things simple was the theme this week in most of these selections. It was a theme I grappled with this week. Time for some change there.

1.John Foxx, The Maths-Interplay
This is the album that has received the most attention this week. It’s easily my favorite album of 2011. Getting this in the mail made for one very happy afternoon. The copy I got from Townsend Records has track by track notes as to which synthesizers were used for each track on the CD sleeve inlay. There are lyrics too. How is that for fanatics! While reading the sleeve we learn that Interplay was written and recorded by John Foxx and Benge. Both of whom are well known for their adoration of analog synthesizers and frequently discussed topics around here. Watching a Building On Fire is the one track written in collaboration with Mira Aroyo (Ladytron) on Korg MS20 synthesizer and vocals. This is going to get a lot of airplay, I bet. Interplay creates a delicious blend of audio candy for the connoisseur synth lover in all of us. John Foxx still sounds amazing. His voice defines a generation of music. So, the fact that Foxx is still involved in defining all of that, coupled with a loyalty to analog synthesizers today, makes for a great story even today. Watching A Building On Fire is a catchy ditty featuring strings from a Korg Lambda string synthesizer, ARP Odyssey and a Crumar Multiman.


One other thing that you find on the sleeve notes of Interplay is the list of FX on Foxx’s vocals. The Digitech Vocalist is one among a few used throughout the LP. Interplay is synthesizers galore, great pop melodies and pure style. Gentlemen, any chance you can give us some performances over here on this side of the pond? Get this album now.

2.Imaginary Cities-Temporary Resident
My Northern friends are producing some very good music in recent years. Or at least, more so! Imaginary Cities are Manitoba residents Marti Sarbit and Rusty Matyas. Sarbit has a very unique voice. I mean, I knew right away I was going to like this album. FromSay You, the albums opening track, you know that you are in for a tasty morsel of a singing specimen. Up against the multi-instrumentals of Rusty Matyas, this combination offers up a most delicious blend of melody rich tracks and a truly noteworthy production. You are going to hear some big things from this band.

The thing is, there are lots of electronics on Temporary Resident too, but the focus is evidently in the songwriting and the choice of instrumentation in each track only serves to add to the songs’ structure. The Pixies have chosen Imaginary Cities to tour with them for the upcoming Pixies Doolittle Tour. So, if you are one of those that shows up late to a show, you just might want to reconsider. Very nice album.

3.Lowfish-Frozen & Broken
Lowfish aka Gregory De Rocher keeps things simple. Upon reading most of the liner-notes, you realize quite quickly that Lowfish doesn’t have a room full of gear. Or maybe he does, but he seems to rely on a choice set of synthesizers. Frozen and Broken was an instant favorite for me. Only overshadowed by Foxx’s Interplay. Though, I binged on Lowfish too. De Rocher uses a wide range of analog kick drums and hi-hat’s and snares on this album which come mostly from a combination of a Roland TR 808 drum machine and a Vermona VRM-1 analog drum machine. It is clear analog drums are still vital to the Lowfish sound and that’s the way I like it. Voltage Controlled Oscillators (VCO’s) are in vogue again. It’s only a matter of time before Fashionistas make the DCO’s fashionable again. For some though, analog synthesizers have always been the instruments of choice. Some artist make connections with their instruments over years of using them. There is truth to that. It makes sense. When you read De Rocher’s liner notes, they show the same. I get the idea that the instruments were like band members. Like they become characters in the script of the album. Lowfish is also not a Luddite or a technophobe. He still relies on his Macbook. However, it is clear when listening to this album that it is transistor based instruments that make Frozen & Broken complete.

4.Skinny Puppy-Puppy Gristle
Legend has it that a fire burned down the location in which this Skinny Puppy recording was conceived. The location in question housed a certain “Thee Gristleizer” the very same Gristleizer that was used by Throbbing Gristle on many of their now classic albums. Genesis P. Orridge was featured on this recording and so too was Chris Carter’s chemistry lessons by way of his custom made effects processors. Puppy Gristle is a little over a 40 minute jam. It’s often dense and off kilter, but somehow it captures an energy that is very Skinny Puppy and most definitely Throbbing Gristle. Some have said this album never takes off. “Why does it have to?”, is my response. It’s a moment in time, a vibe, an intoxication, who knows, but for a jam with electronics, it works for me. Recorded in Shangri-La Studios in Malibu California. If you are a casual fan, perhaps you might start elsewhere in the Skinny Puppy saga, but for the completest of either Throbbing Gristle or SP, this is a must.

5.Shudder To Think-Hot One (Velvet Goldmine)
Remember this soundtrack? Remember the flick? I seem to remember watching it on a VHS tape. Yikes! Shudder To Think is a glam rock treat and I remember playing it quite a bit. Actually, I like the whole soundtrack. Especially, the tracks by Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke of Radiohead as the fictitious, The Venus In Furs. Check it out if you missed it the first time.

6.The The-The Beat (en) Generation & August & September (Mind Bomb)
It must be known that I believe Matt Johnson goes down as one of the best songwriters to come out of London of our generation. He was one of the many great artists to be featured on the Steveo’ Some Bizarre compilation and he has consistently produced some great albums. Mind Bomb is one of my favorites because it was the one I played repeatedly in university. These tracks just put me in a great mood. You see, with Matt Johnson you can’t count on lyrics that bring out the bitter truth, but always offers up some optimism.

7.Thom Yorke-The Eraser Remixes
$1.99 for a CD is too hard to pass up. So, it was this CD I purchased earlier in the week. Obviously, Thom Yorke is going to be on the mind especially with all of the stir with his recent Radiohead album, The King of Limbs and his recent DJ appearance at Low End Theory in Los Angeles. You can see more about that DJ set here. The Eraser Remixes are taken from tracks from Yorke’s, The Eraser solo albums from a couple of years back. The Remixes features tracks by Burial, Christian Vogel, Modeselektor, The Bug and Four Tet. If you are a fan of Radiohead and also like the remix treatments, check this out.

8.The Chemical Brothers-Hanna (Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I was listening to Client featuring Martin Gore of Depeche Mode and somehow The Chemical Brothers popped into my head. I’m not one of those who believes you should wait to hear the soundtrack until you’ve seen it with the film. Then again, some of these tracks would’ve made more sense. Really though, who can wait that long when it’s some of your favorite artists releasing it. I remember seeing The Chemical Brothers in Seattle a few years back. They were one of the first bands, I can safely say, made my ears hurt for days. It was an aural assault. I was mad, but also impressed. Hanna is the score for the film of the same name. Many passages yearn for a visual. That is true. Still, it’s nice to see The Chemical Brothers expanding into other areas with their sound.

9.Client-Overdrive (City LP) featuring Martin L. Gore
CLIEИT was an Andy Fletcher (Depeche Mode) discovery. Fletcher released some the early albums from this London duo on his label, Toast Hawaii. Client is a duo of sexy looking Stasi women, with synthesizers. I like the combination of airline hostess uniform meets shiny fetish fashion outfits. If I ever had to deal with the Stasi, I would hope they all looked this. On this one though, they feature the vocals of Martin L. Gore (Depeche Mode). Client was distributed by Mute Records in North America. The band has changed labels and members, but I still like the idea, sound and aesthetics of this band and this track is among one of my favorites of theirs.

10.Colin Hay-I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You (Garden State Soundtrack)
If you thought the best thing about Colin Hay was his daughter Sia (Zero 7), well this song will show you that Colin Hay has a soul. Good to know he has done more with life after Men At Work. This song is perhaps, one of my favorite ballads in a very long time. It’s a sad song told in the first person, and by the end of it, you just can’t help but admire the song and the artist. This is a very nice piece of songwriting that I enjoy playing.

The Weekly LP & Singles Platter, Please!

This is the weekly installment where we recap what we’ve been spinning at The Synthesizer Book headquarters during the week. If it’s on this list, it got played more than once!

I think last week I said I was going to do a yearly recap of our favorite LP’s of the year. I lied! We’ll have that up before year’s end.

1.Daft Punk-Tron Legacy
I finally got around to see Tron Legacy in 3D. I actually purchased the soundtrack/score first. I have a friend who refuses to listen to it before seeing the movie. He prefers to see the music in context of the movie. I normally do that, but I was thinking that with this season’s schedule, I wouldn’t get to see the movie. I did manage to sneak a visit to Famous Players for a viewing. I really like the Daft Punk score. At first, I wished it would’ve been 100% synthesizer based. Nonetheless, the soundtrack works with the visuals of the film. There have been a few people who have suggested that someone like Kraftwerk would’ve served the score better. I’m not one of them. I think the score stays true to the original and adds new elements that compliment the picture. My only regret is to not have taken my son to see it. He would’ve loved it. I think I’m going to have to take him next week. Go see the movie if you haven’t. It is fantastic and I can’t wait to buy this on DVD.

2.Martin L. Gore(Depeche Mode)-Counterfeit EP
I purchased this on cassette when I was in high school. As the years went by, I lost the cassette tape. It would be a few years, but eventually I was able to find it on CD and purchased it. I like the title. I like that they are all covers. I also liked his second solo Counterfeit 2, but I think the first one in this series is the one worth repeated listens. All of the tracks with the exception of Never Turn Your Back On Mother Nature, got plenty of listens this week. His version of Motherless Child is still one of my favorites. The version on the EP is quite minimal, but with lyrics like that, do you really need much music to accompany it?

3.Suzanne Ciani-Seven Waves
I was doing some Suzanne Ciani research this week. I always knew of her, but never really was a devout follower. Many have classified her style of music as New Age. My idea of New Age has always been Yanni! I will never forget getting bumped by a studio we were recording in because Yanni had decided he wanted to record that week. I’m sure he had a much bigger budget than us, anyway. The project I was working on didn’t amount to much either. Thank heavens.

I like Seven Waves. It’s not the type of album I would’ve purchased, likely. However, I like what she did here. For 1982, it adds quite a contrast to what was the predominant sound being generated by artist, and the albums that filled my collection. I was expecting to hear a little more experimentation, but that’s not to say that it isn’t worthy of investigation. Here, is still the usual drum machines of that period. However, it’s her use of the Buchla 200 system that I was interested in checking out. She was a pioneer with the synthesizer and for that I give her much, much, respect. Make sure to read my post on her.

4.Rosebruit & Franck Smith-Lemon Juice & Chloroform
Franck Smith is one half of the duo Zn’shñ. I’ve discussed their Butoh Sweets LP several times. Here he teams up with Rosebruit(audiovisual artist) for a very good recording. There is a fine mixture of noise, bleeps, drones and beats. I like Lemon Juice and learned a few things about chloroform too. You can download the EP for free. Go check out their blog for details and download instructions. Of all the free downloads, this one was a nice surprise. Give these artists your attention. They deserve it. Zn’shñ

From Zn’shñ blog:
The 6 tracks of “Lemon juice & chloroform” contain the original soundtrack of the eponymous audiovisual work by Rosebruit + unreleased audio material recorded for the film — collapsing alternative drum/bass patterns, free funk-jazz, glitchy-psychedelism, distorted horns, noise/electronic, abstract break-beats… No external sound sources were used in these recordings.

5.Blackalicious-Blazing Arrow
I’ve always liked Blackalicious. I didn’t have this album. A friend of mine and I were talking about their LP The Craft and I realized I had never heard this LP. It’s a great album. Hip-Hop heads might accuse this type of music as being for the “backpackerish,” but you know full well, I don’t care! I’m off to have my sons take some pictures with Santa Claus and this is my soundtrack as I sip on a coffee and wonder what awaits me at the mall. Thanks bro, for letting me borrow this. It’s a very nice album indeed.

6. The Synthi Group Vol.3 Compilation
Yep, its a compilation featuring artist using their EMS Synthi’s to produce music. The Synthi has been on my mind since the Square Waves symposium. This is a very good listen. You can go to the Synthi website for more information and downloads of Volumes 1-3.

From the Synthi Group:

The Synthi Group returns for part three of their EMS analog music series. Unlike the first two releases, this edition was recorded with a specific theme in mind and with parameters of limitation. The artists appearing on volume three were asked to create ambient soundscapes using EMS equipment ONLY. No other musical gear was used in the creation of this compilation.


Click on cover for download.

7.Mumford & Sons-Sigh No More
My wife really likes this LP. I actually purchased it for her. A very good friend of mine got me onto them. I love the vocals, melodies, harmonies and the instrumentation is delicate and soothing,…and even a little moderately uplifting at times! A great LP that I enjoyed listening to. It’s also nice because all she ever listens to is the radio! Music is just not the same for her as it is for me. Nothing wrong with that. Not all of us can claim to have a partner, wife, etc. that plays synthesizers! When I want to know what’s on the charts, I ask her. I sometimes have no idea. Aside from NPR, I just don’t listen to much radio. This and Field Music’s-Measure are albums I listened to with her.

I listened to a bunch of other stuff this week, but these are the ones that got the most play-time.

I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and an even happier New Year…Most of all, I’d like to wish my son a very Happy Birthday. He is the most incredible and beautiful gift I ever received on a Christmas.

Enjoy!