A Song From Your Favourite Band (30 Days of Music 2014)

Enjoy The SilenceDepeche Mode

I even love the video-exclusive intro..

This looks like I planned it, doesn’t it? Oops. Didn’t mean to have two songs from the same artist on consecutive entries. Ah well. Nowadays, I don’t really have a favourite band. There’s great songs, good albums, bands I have affection and/or personal attachment to, but a ‘favourite’, if you took just the last 5-10 years, that’s difficult. So my criteria for this is – band who have the most songs that I enjoy. And, since 1998, that has been Depeche Mode. I remember liking this particular song when it came out, but didn’t really pay attention to the band behind it – indeed, in my head, thanks to Now! That’s What I Call Music VHS tapes, Martin Gore and the slightly scary looking one from Heaven 17 (Wikipedia reliably informs me he’s called Glenn Gregory), were one and the same.

It was only with the release of The Singles 86>98, bought by my brother, that I fell in love with the band – there is no song on that compilation I don’t love. There’s a consistency of theme, of atmosphere, and yet a very different and evolving approach, which makes every song a delight. My love of electronic music, being a child of the 80s, probably helps, too. Then I started to explore the older stuff, and the albums, and again, it’s pretty much all gold. The videos are often works of art, too.

Yes, the 2000s have been less kind to the band – Exciter, the first release since I became a ‘fan’, was disappointing, but not a complete failure, and it’ll always be special to me – the thirty second preview clips were great for speculation. Playing the Angel and Sounds of the Universe were definite steps in the right direction, and yet it’s symptomatic of my waning ‘favourite band’ thing, that I’ve still not listened to the latest album, Delta Machine, in full.

Enjoy The Silence is wonderful, and the album, Violator, is a masterwork, oh, and Andy Fletcher is brilliant.

A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep (30 Days of Music 2014)

Agent Orange – Depeche Mode

YouTube link

When you’ve lived for most of your life in one place, it can be a pretty gut-wrenching experience to leave. Especially when you’ve spent most of your formative years in that house. And especially when it’s a decision you have next to no say in.

In August 1999, shortly after finishing the one GCSE I took a year early (IT, for what it’s worth – the version where most of the work was around learning Microsoft Publisher, but also, thankfully for my later life, Access), my family and I moved house. I was pretty down on the whole experience for a good couple of months, I seem to recall. I had just turned sixteen, which probably had something to do with it, too.

Not long afterwards, I can’t exactly remember when, but certainly within the year, I bought a minidisc player, and for the first time, began to experience really having a personal connection with music – I could listen to almost exactly what I wanted, when I wanted. Yes, I’d had a Walkman, but cassettes were always an imprecise way of taking your music around with you. At last, with minidiscs, you could precisely pinpoint, shuffle even, the songs you wanted to hear.

Which all leads up to the creation of a ‘chillout’ minidisc, the contents of which are still preserved as a playlist on my current iPod. It didn’t get much further than four or five tracks, but ‘music to fall asleep to’ clearly puts me back into the body of my teenage years, trying to get to sleep, listening to those four or five tracks in a very particular order (ironic, for all the talk of shuffle and select, earlier).

Agent Orange – it was only later I discovered the significance of the title, and the references to helicopters, explosions, gunfire, was the song that ended the playlist. By this time, I’d be right on the edges of consciousness. Headphones allowed me to bask in the stereo effects, and the slow, gentle rhythm drew me into sleep. The drums are a hinderance to falling asleep at first, but even they settle into a hypnotic pattern. The plaintive morse code, fading into the background at the end, as a last message before I shut down for the night.

It still works – and from time to time, if I really can’t sleep, I’ll use the tried and trusted technique once more.