Depeche Mode Listening Party – Sounds of the Universe


If you haven’t been living underneath a rock then you’re fully aware of Depeche Mode’s highly anticipated album set to debut on April 21st 2009 – fittingly called Sounds of the Universe. MUTE Records extended an invite to a few select journalists, including myself, to take part in this intimate listening session of the band’s new recordings. Chun King Studios in Manhattan’s West Village provided the setting where about ten of us convened together for this special treat of sonics. Security was extra, extra, extra tight. Like really tight! When my guest and I arrived at the reception area our names were doubled checked and phoned in to label heads. Upon entry into the very small, yet very cool and professional recording studio (note: where Run DMC, the Beastie Boys and Jay-Z have all recorded music) we had to relinquish off our cell phones to Depeche Mode’s publicist – music leaks, a top priority. Our names were written on little purple post-it notes then taped onto the phones making it look like an iPhone and Blackberry party. Once we settled into our seats, wine and beers were offered which mellowed the mood of our group’s impatience.

The band’s publicist played the entire album from start to finish without any interruptions. Sounds of the Universe is a whopping 13 tracks. Here’s the list:

1. In Chains
2. Hole to Feed
3. Wrong
4. Fragile
5. Little Soul
6. In Sympathy
7. Peace
8. Come Back
9. Space Walker
10. Perfect
11. Miles Away The Truth is
12. Jezebel
13. Corrupt

“In Chains” starts off exceedingly long with a dreamy ease, then builds into a single keyboard melody and Dave Gahan’s voice echoing his soothing lyrics, “The way you move has got me moving……has left me burning…” Classic Gahan, a soft ooze then penetrates to his high octave power. Immediately, I was into the vibe. We carried on listening to the rest of the tracks – “Wrong” will be the first single and is actually on the band’s Myspace page right now for listening. However what truly got me beyond belief was “Fragile” – it absolutely, without a doubt blew me away. Blew me away to the point where I asked to listen to the song three more times after everyone left the studio! The song sparkles with a pretty melody – synching a half synth/half guitar shimmer. Standouts, aside from “Fragile”, include “Perfect”, “Corrupt” and “Jezebel” with a pleasant surprise of Mr. Martin Gore taking on lead vocals.

Sounds of the Universe is Depeche Mode’s album of maturity. They’ve seen and done it all and their songs showcase that wisdom. Depeche Mode’s foundation of sound is still “there”, yet their new recordings are elevated to another plateau. Layers and layers and layers of resonance make every song feel like you’re always hearing it for the first time.

*Written By: Jessica McMenamin *

James Shotwell
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