Depeche Modes Delta Machine album evokes a feeling of returning to pleasant times for me when my interest in the band was at its maximum. When I first saw them it was at the Queens Hall, Leicester University in 1981, and I fell in love with their music. I was always eagerly waiting for the next release, sadly their later offerings didn’t really do it for me anymore and I moved on to other bands, but I have always followed them and Delta Machine does bring some of that love back.
Overall there is still a dark atmosphere for this album. Depeche mode moved away from “standard” synthesiser sounds years ago. The introduction of Welcome to my world defiantly contains no recognisable pre-sets! Instead various clicks provide the rhythm while bass throbs interject with an industrial feel. Dave vocals almost tread onto blues territory and then powerful string stabs join as the song builds to a crescendo that is unmistakeably Depeche mode.
There are more recognisable drum sounds on Angel but the blues voice remains, almost like a preacher, there’s a religious theme with lyrics “I was lost, I was found”. There’s a really good rhythm that pulls between the drums and a bass sound that plays off beat and some stunning effect type of sounds. Half way through the song and the rhythm shifts and gets reminiscent of earlier Depeche albums, Strange Love time.
I like the early drum machine sound on Heaven as it takes on a more traditional sound in instrumentation and song form, with recognisable drums and guitar and a verse chorus structure. I can imagine them playing this on Later with Jools Holland. Doesn’t really sound like Depeche mode to me, could be anybody and the song doesn’t do a lot either.
The next track is Secret To The End, with just a bass synth, percussion and Dave to start with, this does sound like a Depeche mode song and the synth bass sound sounds solid throughout the track once again there’s a bit of distorted guitar, I do prefer the days when they were pure electronic! Never the less, this is quite a nice and typical track with a clever use of a snare drum punching out the rhythm.
It’s a stilted start to the rhythm of My Little Universe and musically it’s quite sparse too, with some very experimental sound textures, almost unmusical but used as sound timbres and quite an unusual harmony set against the vocal parts. Becomes almost dancey towards the outro.
Slow, takes the term laid back to the extreme. More bluesy influence with the guitar part and vocal style, a simple bass drum, snare drum rhythm under pins another sparse arrangement
Broken has the best introduction on the album and some great drum and rhythm parts, not to mention the best song. This defiantly has more of a feeling of their earlier times but still with some progression. This for me is what Depeche mode were all about! Exciting sounds and put in the context of good songs.
The Child Inside features Martin on vocals and that always means a certain style change song wise as he tends to sing the more delicate stuff that’s more fitting to his voice, musically there’s no real drum sounds, with just a few light synthesiser parts to give his voice plenty of space so he’s not competing with masses of electronic weight. Works well with this track and it does sound like everything is there for a reason on this ballad type track.
In contrast, Soft touchRaw Nerve, has a much rockier and bigger feel and its back to Dave for the vocals. There’s a lot going on here and I like the way the song pauses as it flows from verse to chorus and the way the bass line thunders along throughout until it all stops and builds for the last bar!
Should Be Higher, trundles along establishing a rhythm which proves to be false when the powerful percussion parts joining, throwing your brain off slightly. Another quite interesting and listenable song and adventurous in the way it’s orchestrated and arranged. It continually moves into a new direction without losing what’s already been formed. One of my favourites on this album.
Alone moves on sonically in a new direction, there is certainly a move towards creating different sound atmosphere with some very unusual but very effective sound pallets and a feel that goes with them, Alone certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department and will certainly stand the test of multiple listens as there always plenty going on for your ears to get your head around, if you know what I mean!
There’s another stompy almost Personal Jesus start to Soothe My Soul, that’s not far away when the guitars join in with the echoed synthesiser stabs. Another decent song though with even more apparent use of original sounds, treated and reverbed in just the right context. Just listen to the ending!
The aptly named Goodbye says goodbye to the album, starting bluesy and featuring guitar, it shots off in a synthetic direction before the guitars return. This track certainly reunites the guitar and synthesiser elements together and proves a good end to this interesting album.
It’s almost as if they’ve become too experimental for their own good at the expense of the songs and sound which, when it comes down to it, is the reason we like particular artists. But when they do get it right you’re glad you were there to hear it. Thirteen new tracks for an album shows they’re not struggling to put new material together which is a good sign. The later songs on the album seem to me stronger than the opening few. The album also gets even better after a few listens which can’t be a bad thing. This one gets the thumbs up from an old Mode fan.