Where’s The Revolution?

In these turbulent political times, it’s the number one question being asked all over the world (aside from Cape Town, where it’s “Where’s The Rain?” and Barcelona where it’s “How on earth did the referee give that penalty?”).
It’s also the title of Depeche Mode’s new song:

The video, directed by Anton Corbijn, is waist-deep in symbolism and snapshots of recreated political history, Dave Gahan is the impassioned pseudo-dictator, wheeling his mighty soapbox around a monochromatic, dystopian, urban space and imploring his non-existent audience to rise up.

It’s powerful imagery.

On the actual music, much has been made of the production by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco fame, but he’s sensibly not tinkered too much with the traditional Depeche Mode sound. In fact, it sounds like they’ve hardly moved on from 1990’s Violator, but since that was a near perfect offering, there’s no problem with that.

The new album – Spirit – is out next week.

More writing

I’ve been promising to write a bit more on here for several days now and now I am actually going to do it. The lab work is finished, the office may be closed for the summer break, but my feet have hardly touched the floor and my bum is wholly unaware of what a seat looks like. If this is what holiday time is like, bring me more TB! Not had a moment. I swear.
Everything seems to have been in my way. Even between the last sentence and this, I had to change the batteries on the wireless keyboard. I mean, how often does anyone ever need to do that?
(Handy hint: it’s whn it strt typng lk his)

It’s a sign that someone upstairs doesn’t want me to write. (The wife, I mean, not God or anything.) Probably because I should be getting on with jobs, like sorting out the boy’s new bike, walking the beagle or trying unsuccessfully to fix the pool pump.

There have been moments of relaxation, of course. I took in my first (and probably last) film of 2015 – the Peanuts movie, this morning. We used the rather posh Prestige cinema at the local shopping mall for the ridiculously early 0845 screening. Unnecessarily electric reclining chairs, waitress service to your seat, a posh menu and a distinct lack of plebs – all for an extra R35 a time? Count me in for the one film I go and see next year as well.
The Peanuts movie was nice, if a little disjointed (but hey, look at this blog post). The kids enjoyed it. The storyline was a bit thin, but it had its moments. Still, as a guide, don’t go and see it unless you used to be a bit of a Snoopy fan when you were younger (I was), you have kids (I do) or you like hiding in the dark and wearing daft glasses early on a Saturday morning (I’m not saying).

Other news: I downloaded the BBC Radio 6 Music Classic Concert episode which featured Depeche Mode’s 1983 Hammersmith Odeon performance. Oh, it’s ever so good. If you’re quick, you too can listen and/or download until 10th January 2016, by clicking here.

I also owe Flickr loads of photos. But if you think blogging takes time that I don’t have, then you’ll perhaps understand why I haven’t manged to get that done either.
Soon. But after the footy. So actually not that soon.

Oh, and finally, I got some comments about my attendance at the annual Carols by Candlelight Glowstick concert at Kirstenbosch. You know, the “I thought you were an atheist” kind of comments. Well, yes, I am, but I didn’t see any terms or conditions about not being allowed to go along when the tickets were booked. I read my kids Roald Dahl and Harry Potter books. It doesn’t mean I have to believe in massive stoned fruit, large amiable tautologists or Platform 9¾. The thing is a charity event, the sense of community (something we’re sadly lacking in SA) is near tangible, and hey, it’s Kirstenbosch – there is no better place to go and drink wine, picnic and know that you are doing some good.

That’s one of the places I need to update my photos from. But right now, Guus Hiddinkidonk’s Chelsea are about to take on Sunderland. Live and in HD.
And I have reserved a place on the couch.

Please excuse me.

6000 miles…album of the year update

We’re almost halfway through the year (cue comments like: “doesn’t time fly?” and “Christmas only seems like yesterday”) and if previous years are anything to go by, I’ll probably have forgotten what’s already happened so far when it comes to looking for my favourite album of the year in December.

So, herewith an ongoing (i.e. may be updated at any time) recap of the early contenders, in no particular order.

Delta Machine – Depeche Mode
Classic “back to their roots” stuff from Gahan et al. Much improved on their recent offerings. Really good. Really, really good.

Diary – The D.O.T.
My goodness, but this has been taking up a lot of airtime in my car. It’s one of those albums where you actually hope for traffic so that you can get to listen to it a bit longer. Don’t Look At The Road and Blood, Sweat And Tears (brilliant video here) are particular favourites, but it’s all so very listenable. And I think I will do that right now while compiling the rest of this post.

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
It took a lot to get me to even listen to this. Hyped things usually have to be hyped for a reason and thus, I tend to avoid them. In addition, as someone who caught the tail end of disco first time around, I have a completely understandable pathological hatred for all things disco.
But wait. This is updated, experimental disco, with busy electronic bits decorating it. And it’s just ever so slightly mad. Even “serious” songs like Touch have an element of self-deprecation about them. It’s fun, and for that reason, it’s rather addictive.

In A Time Lapse – Ludovico Einaudi
Yeah. Incongruous, I know. But Ludovico slipped this one in early on in the year and it’s typically classy. And while some might argue that it’s typically typical as well, do I really have to take the time to explain once again that there’s really no need to fix stuff what ain’t broke? It follows on perfectly from 2009’s Nightbook, and there’s definitely a place for this calming, take-me-away-from-the-madness music in my life (probably more often than I’d like to admit). Here’s the video for Walk, a perfectly representative piece from the album.

Of course, all of the above could pale into insignificance come October, when the new Morten Harket offering is due to be released. Once again, he’s teamed up with Swedish producer Peter Kvint (Andreas Johnson, Britney Spears) and recently described what they’re doing as

…possibly the best stuff that I’ve ever done.

which, when you’re a fan of the other stuff that he’s done, sounds rather promising.

But, in the meantime, what did I forget? What else should I consider?
Your suggestions are more than welcome (terms and conditions apply).

UPDATE: New Pet Shop Boys album next month is surely set to complicate things further.

Delta Machine

Delta Machine, Depeche Mode’s 13th studio album is already a hot contender for the coveted 6000.co.za Album of the Year. And there’s a very simple reason for that – there’s nothing new here.
I’ve said before that  “old” bands should stick to what made them popular, and I’m happy to stand by that statement. Straying too far from their roots invariably disappoints the existing fan base, when they don’t need to take risks because they actually have nothing to prove. No such problems with Delta Machine: this could easily have been released alongside Violator back in 1990. It’s perfect, vintage Depeche Mode: dark, moody, introspective, soulful electronica.

There’s lots of noise being made about Heaven, but I actually prefer this live version to the one on the album.

And while it’s all good, for me, the standout tracks include My Little Universe, with Gahan’s repeated, compelling assertions of grandeur gradually being overrun by heavy electronic noise, and the deliberately awkward, unapologetic dischordance in Secret To The End.
And then there’s Broken, which is (in my humble opinion) quite possibly the best song Depeche Mode have ever done. And I know that’s a big claim after 33 years of their existence, but it really is perfect. It’s on repeat. A lot.

If you have never been a Depeche Mode fan, this is probably not going to be for you. But if you still hark back to those heady days of tracks like Personal Jesus and I Feel You, wow, you’re in for a treat.