MG – MG (Mute)
27 April 2015
Depeche Mode founding member releases his third solo album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
Martin Lee Gore is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters. Since taking over the reigns as Chief Depeche Mode songwriter from Vince Clarke following his departure to pastures new, Gore has written some of the finest pop songs of the last thirty years.
Under the name of Martin L Gore, his previous two albums Counterfeit and Counterfeit2 have chronicled his musical influences in the form of cover versions of some of his personal favourite songs. With new album MG (the acronym he assumed with Clarke as VCMG on 2012’s Ssss album) he ditches the voice, aside from the odd treated and synthesized effort, in favour of sixteen instrumental tracks.
Work on MG began following the end of the Depeche Mode Delta Machine tour in early 2013, and the result, written recorded and produced by Gore and mixed by Q who performed the same task on Ssss creates a fascinating soundscape of surprising depth and power.
His ability to take the simplest of melodies and add layer upon layer to create cinematic sounding backdrops is wondrous and the hours put into the album at his Santa Barbara studio (allegedly five days a week at a minimum) is clear to see. As Gore says “As a songwriter, I am aware of the power of words….. I am also aware of the power of pure music and the emotions that can be created by musical atmospheres.”
With the exception of Europa Hymn (which has the potential to be a massively popular tune), all the tracks have one-word titles again maybe asserting the simple, straightforward approach to the album. Often haunting, as in the evocative Creeper, Gore has the created pieces which are both modest but also complex and provocative. Opener, Pinking has an almost musical box feel and Elk like something from the Julee Cruise back catalogue.
Both Spiral and Stealth have cunning bass lines which underpin restrained hooks and the ambient industrial feel of Brink is captivating. Ending with the sluggish Blade, MG is as entertaining as it is bold and assertive once more adding to the already imposing CV of Mr Gore.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.