The Depeche Mode machine went into hibernation last March, leaving fans to speculate about what solo projects would fill the probable four year gap until the next DM album. Martin Gore has been the first to show his hand with the release of the wholly instrumental and electronic MG. Unlike Martin’s previous solo albums Counterfeit and Counterfeit 2, MG is entirely self written and is much more akin to the VCMG project Martin had with Vince Clarke than those previous solo releases.
Unlike VCMG however, MG isn’t a techno album as such. Instead, there are 16 tracks, none more than 4 and half minutes, long displaying a range of electronic styles. In his press for the album, Martin has said that he envisages the music providing the soundtrack to an as yet unwritten sci-fi film and in tracks like Elk or Featherlight that description seems entirely apt. There is much more to this album than a sci-fi type feel however, with many tracks, perhaps not too surprisingly, bringing to mind Depeche Mode’s instrumentals or the between songs short pieces found on most of their recent albums.
Europa Hymn, one of the standout tracks here, is such a song. Reminiscent of Music For The Masses era b-side Agent Orange in both mood and melody, it is a beautiful track that would grace any Depeche release. The final track Blade, sounds a little like Uselink from Ultra or Esque from the Sounds Of The Universe extra tracks and it wraps up the album rather nicely.
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There are moments where the album takes a distinctly industrial turn which is no bad thing at all. Swanning is a sinister sounding cracker of a track, all harsh sounds and moodiness and Brink takes that even further over a short three minutes of industrial type techno which is a joy. Exalt has a dark feel too but allows light to shine through with some gorgeous synth pads arriving halfway through.
There are also moments where the music becomes more ambient such as on the aforementioned Europa Hymn or on the likes of Islet. All in all, the album is a mixture of styles and moods that all accompany each other perfectly, creating a hugely enjoyable listening experience. I for one hope that Martin carries on this electronic mood into the next Depeche Mode project as the thought of the band producing tracks in a similar vein to MG is a hugely exciting proposition.