Author: Dennis Burmeister & Sascha Lange
Title: Depeche Mode: Monument
Publisher: Blumenbar, Aufbau Verlag
Release Date: 20th May 2013
It feels really heavy in our hands. And it contains an elaborate and detailed retrospective in words and photos. The name is ‘Monument’ and indeed it is a monument in the collection of any interested and fan of legendary British cult band, DEPECHE MODE.
The band can look back to more than 33 years of history now. Millions of people were and still are excited by the band, already selling more than 100 million recordings. But DEPECHE MODE were never swimming in the mainstream river. It is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary band. One of their fans is Dennis Burmeister. Born in Leipzig and grown up in former GDR, for 25 years he is now collecting ANYTHING he can get from the band. Albums on CD or vinyl, promo material, merchandise items, tour posters, tickets, newspaper articles and even a golden record belongs to his collection - items for the masses from worldwide marketing around the band as well as rarities like the very first promo tape from the year 1980 which was the band’s first, unsuccessful, application at several record companies.
Upon the advice of Mute Records (former label of the band) manager Anne Haffmanns, Dennis toyed with the idea of releasing a book about his collection. But up to the day of an incidental meeting with an author, the idea just remained an idea. When Dennis Burmeister met Sascha Lange, an author and historian for youth culture, 2008 at Mute Records in Berlin, both got along into a conversation. Five years later, both long-time DEPECHE MODE fans finished their project resulting in ‘Monument’. On big pages, making the book a very real and enthralling peice of history, the book shows the history of DEPECHE MODE, their work and fan culture in East and West – like it cannot be found with any other band.
The book starts with the birth of DEPECHE MODE in English Basildon, Essex. Who were those boys? What brought them together? Which paths have they taken until they became the band known as DEPECHE MODE? Afterwards, all released album follow as milestones in the band’s history in an own chapter. Each chapter is illustrated by various pictures – photographs (partly unreleased so far), newspaper articles, letters and posters. The mixture of text and pictures makes reading this book a real adventure and takes care for continuous fascination. Again and again you get to see little gems being unknown so far. From chapter to chapter you can, somehow in real-time, follow the development of the band over the years. Some chapters are completed by detailed interviews. So, Götz Alsmann speaks during ‘The Singles 81-85’, Hans Derer talks about ‘Black Celebration’ or already at the beginning mentioned Anne Haffmans in the chapter ‘Sounds of the Universe’. Here and there you pass pure picture collections, like the Single covers or live photographs, just to reach explaining text passages again.
In the ‘Ultra’ chapter, the tragedy of Dave Gahan’s drug overdose and successful reanimation is topic. The journey through the works of the band ends with the current album ‘Delta Machine’. After finishing the band’s discography, ‘Monument‘ deals with the fan culture in East and West Germany. Nearly 100 pages speak about the development of the fan culture in two different political and social systems. Besides topics like corporate identity, the book also spends time on the fan club issue and fan meetings. Especially West Germans will learn much new out of the somehow unreal life on an East German DEPECHE MODE fan. A really enthralling, if not the most enthralling chapter of the book.
‘Monument’ is written in a really pleasant tongue, printed not too small but also not too big. Photographs and pictures are of superb quality and the complexity of the book is just huge, but not striking dead. With fifty euros, the book is not really cheap, but you get a lot offered and the price is worth it! ‘Monument’ is an comprehensive and fascinating reading for fans and anyone interested in the band.
Rating: 9 / 10