Boomkat Product Review:
Synth-pop’s greatest architect, Vince Clarke, presents his solo debut album after more than 40 years spent shaping the future, richly indulging a widescreen vision of instrumental atmospheric music relating to formative passions for Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, and OMD
With peerless production and songwriting credits to his name for everyone from Depeche Mode to Yazoo and Erasure, Vince Clarke’s position in the synth music hall of fame is assured. Since 1980 he has methodically synced some of the greatest hooks in pop music to its sharpest beats, inspiring countless artists in the process. On ‘Songs of Silence’ he finally steps out on his tod, drifting far away from pop toward a classic conception of synth music as a portal to other dimensions, as palpably inspired by formative years growing up in the ‘70s when synths were a shorthand for futurism, and were increasingly crucial to the shape, texture and effect of contemporary pop music and beyond. The 10-part LP is a soberly wondrous affair suggesting supine and wide-eyed states of mind both thru its track title references to the ecclesiastic, biblical, and folkwise, and no doubt its vast, layered and immersive sound design.
Limiting himself to sounds created solely with Eurorack synth modules, and using only one note in each track, Clarke’s technical ingenuity is pushed to flourish within those restrictions. Without lyrics, the music follows a star-gazing sort of narrative from the vertiginous scale of ‘Cathedral’ thru the stranded distress signals of ‘Last Transmission’, whilst variously earthing his music in the occult and human concerns with the pulsating escalation of ‘White Rabbit’, or the proto political pop as folk music of his synth cover to ‘Blackleg’, a C.19th Northumbrian miner’s song about strikebreakers that resonates timeless themes. He invokes religion and classical music with the choral majesty of ‘Passage’, the coruscating drone of ‘Imminent’, and a striking work for cello and resounding drone backdrops in ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’, with a standout piece of air-stepping arps and techno throb in ‘Scarper’ that echoes his earliest music’s snap-to-the-beat ‘floor functionality.