Release Date: May 22, 2012
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Downbeat
Having traveled the dusty road previously with alt rock singer Mark Lanegan, U.K. production duo Soulsavers turn to the equally tortured soul Dave Gahan on The Light the Dead See, but this European union still opens their album with a mournful harmonica. Of course, Soulsavers have long been the production duo who prefers the sounds of spaghetti westerns to synthesizers, while making their guests sound as grand and grave as Leonard Cohen lost in the high lonesome, so this Depeche in exile is a perfect fit.
The idea came about when Soulsavers were hand-selected to support Depeche Mode on their 2009 tour – a dressing room “We should really…” chat that became reality. Dave Gahan (who provides all vocals here) and mainman Rich Machin have spoken about how much they have re-energised each other, and it shows. Initially it’s strange to hear that instantly identifiable baritone clashing with organic, rough-edged guitars, dirty Hammond organ, and delicate strings rather than the cold electronics of the day job, but it soon reveals itself to be a perfect pairing.
Dave Gahan was a deep personal well of darkness: six minutes spent clinically dead following an overdose in 1996; a cancerous tumour in 2009. He draws on it extensively here. British duo Soulsavers have form in this area – their last collaboration was with the similarly troubled Mark Lanegan – and they have coaxed the Depeche Mode singer into a stream of sincere, superbly sung confessionals.
Few groups, currently active or otherwise, exemplify the dichotomies of personal torment and joy like the Soulsavers. Their relatively small output has a singular theme — that the path of redemption winds through perdition, and no one knows the value of salvation more than the damned. Helmed by Brits Rich Machin and Ian Glover, the collective’s fourth and latest offering, The Light the Dead See, continues this motif they’ve so thoroughly explored in the past, which remarkably continues to feel fresh rather than redundant.
The British production team Soulsavers have finally released a follow-up to 2009’s highly praised LP, Broken. On The Light the Dead See, the group’s lush expanses of slack-tempo darkness feature Depeche Mode vocalist Dave Gahan’s baritone bellows in place of Mark Lanegan’s whiskey-burnt pipes. Gahan’s velveteen croon suits the group’s film-score-perfect funeral dirges in a manner not entirely dissimilar from Lanegan’s gravelly delivery, but offers a welcome twist on the wonderfully depressing sounds Soulsavers are known for.
Over their last two albums, Rich Machin and Ian Glover of Soulsavers have created epic soundscapes of emotion, filled out by guest singers who penned lyrics and sang to Machin and Glover's compositions. For both albums, 2007's stellar It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land and 2009's equally excellent Broken, Mark Lanegan was the primary vocalist, lending his impressive pipes to songs that were full of dark mystery and deep feeling. For The Light the Dead See, Machin and Glover brought in Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan.
If any longtime Erasure or Depeche Mode fans were perplexed by this year’s collaboration between Vince Clark and Martin Gore (VCMG), they’re not likely to have many questions answered by the latest release from Soulsavers, which finds the beautifully tortured Dave Gahan assuming lead vocal duties. Depeche Mode was – and perhaps, still is – the #1 purveyor of swooning, melancholy synth pop. Sure, it was dark, angsty, and melodramatic, but Gahan and Gore always had a knack for taking brooding subject matter and infusing it with singalong melodies and a slick pop veneer.