Release Date: Mar 13, 2012
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Club/Dance
Talk about a collaboration that had to happen: Vince Clarke was the original songwriter for Depeche Mode, until he split over creative differences. While he racked up synth-pop hits with Yaz and Erasure, Martin Gore took over songwriting duties for Depeche Mode. So the long- awaited reunion is the New Wave equivalent of the Rocky/ Apollo rematch at the end of Rocky III.
So let's imagine you're in music PR, and although you can't afford to eat for the next nine days and your panhandler mates stole one of your shoes, and last night you bunked with a guy at the homeless shelter called 'Scary' Terry who when you asked him why he was bleeding replied 'It's ok, it's not my blood....'... you've been tasked with selling VCMG, the new collaboration between Vince Clarke (Yazoo, Erasure) and Martin Gore (Depeche Mode). So the first thing you have to do, your dead-eyed head-of-department will tell you, is devise your 'elevator pitch'; Don Simpson's '25 words (or less)'; or what's otherwise known as 'the hook'.
Familiar ground for Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore, but a perilously dark move for his old ’80s-era bandmate, pop god Vince Clarke, this foray into hardboiled purist-techno is all about merging their opposing skillsets – the middle ground being a stern but playful combination of caustic menace and bright hooks. Stubbornly instrumental (the focus is on detail and discipline), ‘SSSS’ veers from the nightmarish (‘Lowly’) to hard-jackin’ electro (‘Windup Robot’) to industrial, in the shape of ‘Single Blip’. The only constant: danceability.
When the man behind the first Depeche Mode album (plus Yaz, Erasure, and a couple other things) reunites with the man behind all the rest of their efforts (which turned them into a more lyrics-driven group) you'd think the synth pop-and-somewhat-goth fan base would consider their album release a holiday. VCMG stands for Vince Clarke (first album) and Martin Gore (the rest) and their release, SSSS, is hardly what you'd call ambitious, but it is inspired, filled with minimal techno tracks that have identifiable contributions from the two. Punchy drum machines and chimey, "Just Can't Get Enough"-styled synths (Clarke) mix with atmospherics and other touches that suggest deep space (Gore) and everything runs clean five to seven minutes, allowing for head-bobbing and hypnosis without tedium.
Vince Clarke and Martin Gore might have conquered the world together as members of Depeche Mode's original lineup, which held together for just one album, 1981's Speak and Spell. (They conquered it anyway, separately.) The clashing aesthetics that probably provoked the split are all too apparent when you compare Speak and Spell (written largely by Clarke) with the music Depeche Mode's made for the last 30 years (written mostly by Gore). Speak and Spell is blithe, bright, and bouncy, qualities Clarke took to projects like Yaz and Erasure, which scored huge when he combined this bubblegummy synth-pop with over-the-top emoting and a little ersatz soul.
You almost have to treat Ssss as two different albums, from two different perspectives. From one perspective, if you are a fan of vintage electronic pop music, the album is an event of historic proportions. You have two of the most successful, not to mention influential figures of the synth-pop era together for the first time in 30 years. When Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode in 1981, it was not without animosity.
VCMG stands for Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, who were Depeche Mode's original and primary songwriters before the former's 1981 departure to make electronic pop with Yazoo and Erasure. The clamour for the duo's reunion started way back then, but rather than a high-profile return with a fanfare – and a singer – Ssss is a low-key project of instrumental techno. Indeed, there's nothing to signify that it's the work of the two electronic giants at all, but perhaps this is the point.
Thirty years after Vince Clarke quit Depeche Mode for reasons that are still hazy and went on to form Yazoo and then Erasure, he has unexpectedly reconnected with his old bandmate Martin Gore to record a techno album. Given that Clarke only recently started listening to techno, and that the pair communicated only via email, the results are pleasingly cohesive and it doesn't sound like two oldsters trying to get down with the kids. Rather, it feels like a natural progression from synthpop into more hard-edged material and robust pop sensibilities shine through amid the bleeps and filthy basslines.
Still in their teens, Vincent Clarke (VC) and Martin Gore (MG) formed Depeche Mode and influenced the commercial appeal of synthpop during the 1980s. Much like young love, differing expectations drove the two apart, with Clarke leaving to eventually form the sugary-sweet pop outfits Yazoo and Erasure. At the helm of Depeche Mode, Gore steered the band down a darker, more guitar-driven road than their debut, Speak and Spell, pushing the outfit to the pinnacle of their genre.
VCMG stands for Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, the two original members of Depeche Mode, together only for the 1981 debut Speak & Spell. While Martin Gore went on to conquer the world of electronic and synthpop music with Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke did the same, first with Yazoo, later The Assembly, and finally with Erasure. On Ssss (a name whose origin is harder to discern than the band name), Clarke and Gore reunited (well, sort of: all the music here was done through file swapping) to create an hour’s worth of somewhat minimalist techno.
News that Depeche Mode originals Vince Clarke (also of Erasure) and Martin Gore are working together again after 30 years makes any passing fan giddy. The duo's album as VCMG, Ssss, however, will immediately quell that giddiness. Unfortunately, when left to their own devices, these talented individuals get a little too noodly with their music-making toys.
I am doing poppers while writing this! No, really I am! Ok, well, perhaps not. But there's a point 2. 29 into 'Zaat' when, after an extremely tastefully-executed breakdown the kick returns with mighty force, and I'm having a powerful flashback to Trade, the apogee of sensory deprivation clubbing.
Vince Clarke and Martin Gore reunite for a fine set of European-flavoured techno. Ian Wade 2012 VCMG is two men with a shared history. With 100-plus hit singles between them over the last 30 years, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore had barely been in contact since the former left Depeche Mode at the end of 1981, giving Martin the opportunity to become chief songwriter for the band (and chuck radiators down stairs while wearing perv-breeks).
Vince Clarke and Martin L. Gore (both original members of Depeche Mode) come together on Ssss for the first time in the three decades ? when Clarke left the British synth-pop band to go onto his other pioneering pop projects: Yaz(oo) and Erasure. The result isn't what you would have predicted. Rather than an album of campy electro-pop, Ssss is instead a record of foot-tapping techno with only subtle hints of the duo's early synth-pop roots.
VCMG “Ssss” (Mute) VCMG is a 30-year reunion of sorts for two synth-pop masters, Vince Clarke and Martin L. Gore, both songwriters who rarely sing. After writing nearly all of Depeche Mode’s 1981 debut album, “Speak & Spell,” Mr. Clarke left the band, going on to start Yazoo (billed Yaz in the United States) and then Erasure.