Archive for Vince Clarke

In praise (and memory) of the synth riff

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2013 by softsynth

Was just listening to Book of Love’s “Enchanted” which came up on the iPhone shuffle and was struck by how cool the riff is. Book of Love were great at the synth riff, and employed it regularly throughout their all-too-short career. Not surprising as they were so brazenly modelled on Depeche Mode, as DM were as of 1985 when BoL made their debut. The Mode were champions of the synth riff. Think of the moments – “Just Can’t Get Enough” (or for that matter, every single song from Speak & Spell), “Get the Balance Right”, “Everything Counts”, “Master and Servant”, “People are People”, “Shake the Disease”, and many many more – some classics, most pretty special in their own way, and that just in the band’s first five years.

They were far from alone, think of the defining sounds of early synth pop from the golden era – O.M.D.’s “Enola Gay”, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”, aha’s “Take On Me”, Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance”, Gary Numan’s “Cars”, Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, Yazoo’s “Don’t Go”…or “Situation”…or “Nobody’s Diary”…or you know, just any song from Yazoo. The list is far too long to write. One can reflect back to some of the finest moments of the genre and the riff was dominant. Some were particularly good at it – New Order did ’em great, few were better at it than Vince Clarke, Numan was terrific at it and of course Kraftwerk pioneered the trick. It was the stuff of iconic music moments.  Continue reading


Absence makes the blog grow staler

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by softsynth

One the hallmarks of a solid blog, vs a shitty one is the consistency of the blogging. This unfortunate blogger has been traveling and dropped the blogging baton. Humble apologies. Was temped to blog from the beach at Bellaire but…nah. The big rush is yet to come in any case. Nearly every band we care about is due to release a new album in the coming months and all will ramp up among the best perveyors of electronic music. Meantime we’ve banked a few reviews, a couple of artists we’ve been digging and a bands we missed piece that will get stuck on here sooner than later.

That said, some random observations to help catch up…

– If you had told Softsynth twenty years ago…hell, even ten years ago that Martin Gore and Vince Clarke were to collaborate on a new album, considering the degree to which this blogger fetishizes the Speak & Spell era of Depeche Mode, said blogger would likely had gotten a case of the vapors. And yet for all the trying (and there has been a lot of trying here), the album just comes off as so dull and dreary. Oh, hazy memories of our youth, hast thou forsaken us?

– The Titans album release flew totally under our radar, but it’s really quite impressive and deserves an audience. Full review coming.

– We are weeks away from a new 80s-era Ultravox album (!) Excited? Hells yes. But after the O.M.D., Human League, and countless other reunion albums that disappointed enthusiasm is being held in reserve.

– Lots of terrific bands have been sending in music for review or general thoughts. We have been listening, and will catch up, swear.

– Huski have a new single out from their upcoming album and it absolutely kicks ass. So excited about the album and the new direction for the band:

– The other song kicking our ass right now is “Infatuated” from Softsynth fav Miss FD. Not only is the track terrific, but the video is lifted right our of the worst part of the Softsynth brain. Get out of our head Miss…but keep doing exactly…”this” because you are truly filling a void in the music biz…

Won’t leave you so long again. Lots to chat about, the electronic scene is about to heat up in a serious way…

Fascinating Vince Clarke interview

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by softsynth

On Red Bull Music Academy Radio Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, Erasure, Clarke/Ware project) does an hour-long interview segment that is a must-listen to Clarke fans. Clarke is Softsynth’s musical idol so this is a real treat (thanks to Side-Line for the heads-up). Clarke waxes poetic about his musical journey through his various musical incarnations (sadly leaving out mention of The Assembly and his very worthy one-off single with Paul Quinn). The piece, one of Red Bull’s Fireside Chats, includes a number of Clarke songs and a nice treat in the form of Clarke’s awesome remix of Franz Ferdinand’s “No You Girls”.The piece also hears Clarke discussing his very interesting work with Martyn Ware (Human League, Heaven 17), news of a new Erasure album to be recorded in the fall (and one can only hope it’s an improvement on the dreadful Light at the End of the World), and Clarke explaining why he has been using softsynths but now has his analogue library back together which should bode well for the next album. Even the casual electronic fan should check it out.

Bands we miss – Yazoo

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by softsynth

I’ve often been asked, “what’s your dream concert? Who would you kill to see/to have seen?” The answer has always been immediate and without hesitation – Yazoo. They only properly toured once and never in North America, plus they disbanded in 1983. Yet, this odd mixture of Vince Clarke’s propulsive, driving electronics with Alison Moyet’s big soulful, bluesy voice worked as few acts have since, electronic or otherwise. Continue reading

On change and the insecurity of electro fans

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2009 by softsynth

In the on-going cataloging of 2009 releases in the electronic community, the last week has brought news of two of my very favourite bands in the studio (or shortly heading there) to produce new content for ’09. VNV Nation is about to head on in to record newly written material for the upcoming Of Faith, Power and Glory, the followup to the awesome Judgement. (In addition to a cast-offs/live tracks/varia album Reformation we will see in coming weeks, for the collectors.) Also in the studio are Mesh, my so-called “second favourite band” (truth be told many bands have held that description at one time or another) who are well into the recording process for the followup to the incomparable We Collide, one of my favourite albums of all time. However, when reading about the Mesh sessions on, I was unnerved to see them describe the album-in-progress as “grittier and rockier (sic)”. Now I’m all about the grit and the rock, but this has become shorthand among many electronic artists, code words for “more organic” or “less of what has made this band the band you’ve enjoyed up to this point”. So why would I react this way? Aren’t artists supposed to grow and change and bring different things to the table? Continue reading