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Artist: Depeche Mode
Title: Remixes 2: 81-11
Genre: Synth-Pop/Dance/House
Release Date: 3rd June 2011
Label: Mute (EMI)

Album Review

Nag! Nag! Nag! DEPECHE MODE are about to release a new remix album, and their fans do what they do best: They nag, moan, and complain. Especially since the label and retailers threw a few teasers and snippets at them the fan forums in the word wide web are full of negative feedback. Oh my god, the remixes don't sound like the originals! Well, that is actually the point of a remix, isn't it? Anyway, let's forget about sarcasm and digs at fellow devotees, as DEPECHE MODE fans like to call themselves, and see what this collection has to offer. Of course there are always good and bad remixes. There are also old and new remixes in this collection, and the fan will of course opt for the 3CD version of this release, as CD number three offers brand-new remixes only - including the ones by a certain Alan Charles Wilder and Mr. Vince Clark! The news that these two former DEPECHE MODE members contribute their own versions of DEPECHE MODE songs which were recorded after their respective departure has buzzed the fan base with excitement, especially in Alan Wilder's case.

But there are of course lots of other remixers featured in this compilation. CD1 starts with BUSHWACKA's ‘Tough Guy Mix’ of ‘Dream On’, a nice and rather loungy version but you probably wonder why the collection kicks off with this track? Despite being a good remix it's hardly something that catches the attention of the potential customer (as the opener of an album should) and a DJ would place the track probably later in the set. When you see this remix compilation as some sort of DJ set, then BUSHWACKA's take on ‘Dream On’ is simply misplaced. When you look at ‘Remixes 2: 81>11’ from the point of view of a label manager it's misplaced too. I would have loved it when the compilation would have started with a big bang instead. Anyway, in the age of iTunes and mp3 players the running order of an album probably doesn't matter any more, anyway. In general the remixes of this 3CD collection have rather a relaxed, atmospheric or trippy feel, and there's not too much you'd expect to hear on the main floor of a big rave. M83's remix of ‘Suffer Well’ and the reconstruction of ‘John The Revelator’ by UNKLE just confirm this, and TIGERSKIN's eight-minute long interpretation of ‘In Chains’ takes the same route. By the way the first of the brand-new remixes, and one of the highlights on the first CD.

But on CD1 SIXTOES' remix of ‘Peace’ is unrivalled! A very orchestral version with live strings, rather a cover version with Dave Gahan's vocals on top and not just a club mix. Certainly not something you would expect in such a remix collection but all the more a track that stands out. Beautiful! It's also nice to see non-album tracks like ‘Happiest Girl’ and ‘Slow Blow’ (a Trip Hop-ish instrumental from the ‘Ultra’ era) featured on this CD. The DIGITALISM remix of ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ unfortunately fails to impress but at least this is potential rave fodder. OLIVER HUNTEMANN and STEPHAN BODZIN make a much better job by beefing up ‘Everything Counts’ big time and giving it a killer bass line which will make any dance-floor go nuts - only regret is that ‘Remixes 2’ features their dub version and not the full vocal version, which is even better. Also featured on the first CD of this bundle is the STARGATE mix of ‘Personal Jesus’, which most fans will already know as it was released as the lead single. The opinions on this version diverge, I for one am among those who love this remix. Yes, it is very, very dancy and very commercial sounding and radio-friendly remix, but that's exactly why it was released as a single and I think it's a very well done remix which is simply fun.

Disc 2 starts with the fantastic club mix by Trentemøller of ‘Wrong’, one of the best remixes coming out of the ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ era. It is followed by the classic ‘Dub In My Eyes’ version of ‘World In My Eyes’, another great take on a DEPECHE MODE anthem, even though I'm usually not to keen on dub mixes. With ‘Fragile Tension’ we go back to ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ again, and PETER BJORN & JOHN, who also supported DEPECHE MODE on the US leg of the last tour, take a similar approach as SIXTOES with ‘Peace’. The Swedish trio didn't do a remix in the strict sense but rather a cover version with Dave's and Martin's vocals on top and many acoustic elements. Very nice! Unlike the first disc, CD number two doesn't offer any new remixes but a few rare old ones, as the LE WEEKEND remix of ‘Ghost’ and the superb remix of ‘Strangelove’ by Tim Simenon and Mark Saunders aka BOMB THE BASS. The power and energy they added to this Pop tune is pretty amazing, and at the same time the keep the song intact and stick true to the original - unlike so many modern-day club tracks! Other highlights on this disc include the weird ‘Death Mix’ of ‘Fly On The Windscreen’, ‘Only When I Lose Myself’ by DAN THE AUTOMATOR and MONOLAKE's version of ‘The Darkest Star’ which is quite experimental and, well, dark. All in all a very nice collection!

For all fans, disc number three is of course the most interesting one in this set, as all versions here are brand-new and previously unreleased. The holy grail of the entire collection is surely ALAN WILDER's remix of ‘In Chains’! Perhaps the most desired remix in DEPECHE MODE history and the fans cannot wait to get their hands on this mix. Every fan acknowledges Alan Wilder as a crucial member in the band's history and as the man who significantly helped to shape the sound of DEPECHE MODE after founding member Vince Clark had left. Actually there's no DM fan forum without “We want Alan back!” popping up as a topic every other week or so, and some fans see the departure of Alan Wilder in 1995 as the sole reason for DEPECHE MODE's alleged “demise” in terms of quality over the last few years. Well, some of it is surely a bit over the top but Alan Wilder indeed gave DEPECHE MODE a new direction when he became a full-time member in 1983. He added more depth, an edgier and somehow more experimental approach to the sound of the band, thus enhancing the songs written by Martin L. Gore. Many DEPECHE MODE fans started to hyperventilate when the news broke a few months ago that Alan Wilder would deliver a remix to this project, especially as he picked a DEPECHE MODE song written and produced after his pullout. Wilder picked ‘In Chains’ from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’, and this is simply a perfect choice.

Wilder's ‘In Chains’ version is rather a re-production than just a remix. He restructures the song, leaves out some key elements while adding a few new ones, and he gives the song a lot of time to breathe a new life. It takes three and a half minutes for the song to build up - quite a few Pop songs are over when the times clocks in at 3:30! But Wilder created a seven-minute monster which starts with haunting synth layers and a few distorted vocal samples. The minimal and sparse sounds give Dave Gahan's vocals, kicking in at 1:45, a lot space to flower out to full effect. Interestingly Wilder uses the chorus of the song only once, and only in a significantly rearranged way as a bridge to the main part of the track. Wilder adds by and by some live drums, new chords, additional string sections, and even a few samples from other DEPECHE MODE songs as ‘I Want it All’, ‘My Joy’ or ‘I Am You’. A very carefully composed version of this song which adds a lot of depth and atmosphere to this song, turning this rather funky DEPECHE MODE song into a dark anthem. Only problem here - apart from the longish intro perhaps - is that this is exactly what most people expected from Wilder's remix! And those who thought this remix would show how recent DEPECHE Mode would sound if Alan Wilder had never left probably won't get a satisfying answer - this track sounds rather like Alan Wilder's solo project RECOIL than, let's say, ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’. Alan Wilder delivers exactly what people were expecting from him - while this means that his version lacks the element of surprise a little it also means that you get quality and a accurately produced dark anthem with a lot of love for details. No matter how you look at it, Alan Wilder's ‘In Chains’ is one of the highlights of this compilation.

The other ex-member of DEPECHE MODE has also appearance on ‘Remixes 2’: VINCE CLARK picked ‘Behind The Wheel’ for a personal overhaul, and in some ways it's the complete opposite of what Alan Wilder did. Clark took the dark and brooding DEPECHE MODE original, stripped of its trademark bass line to replace it with a drifting club beat. It's not a pushy and importunate club stomper like Shep Pettibone's remix of the same song in 1988, for example, but rather a gently driving, compelling dance tune. A completely different interpretation of the song, and fortunately it is still a song and not just some random beat with a few samples from the original thrown in, like way too many dance remixes of today. Vince Clark proves here that he is a true master in his own territories. The rest of disc three is less club orientated, although SIE MEDWAY-SMITH (quite good) and ALEX METRIC (brilliant!) deliver great dance versions of ‘Personal Jesus’, which most fans will already know from the ‘Personal Jesus 2011’ single. RÖYKSOPP did a pretty sweet remix of ‘Puppets’, a completely revised version of the ‘Speak & Spell’ track which sounds like RÖYKSOPP with the young Dave Gahan singing.

Another song from the DEPECHE MODE debut is ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’, reconstructed for ‘Remixes 2’ by Karlsson & Winnberg from MIIKE SNOW. The track starts very strong with a massive bass line but in the further course they chop up the song, overload it with effects and breaks and truncate the vocals. Could have become a great remix but this way it's neither something that would work on the dance-floor nor something that would pleasant enough to listen to it at home. A bit nerve-wrecking, I have to say. I rather go for CLARO INTELECTO's ‘The Last Time’ version of ‘Leave In Silence’, a very laid-back and loungy interpretation of the 1982 classic which is simply beautiful. But Karlsson and Winnberg prove that they could do better and also deliver an interesting and quite charming version of ‘When The Body Speaks’ from 2001's ‘Exciter’ album. While I can see that opinions on this mix will differ among DEPECHE MODE's fan base, I'm surely among those who quite like it. Karlsson and Winnberg demonstrate that steel drums (sic!) work within a DEPECHE MODE context and give us a dreamy and somewhat happier version of this song. One of the biggest names among the remixers is of course ERIC PRYDZ, and while he remixed ‘Personal Jesus’ for the lead single of ‘Remixes 2’ he is represented with a dance version of ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ on the album itself. He adds a brilliant bass line to the song, loops the trademark intro guitar over it, throws in a few vocals - and that's it actually! Sounds great but doesn't go anywhere in the long run. One great idea per song is just not enough.

How to do it better shows JOE BOT's remix of ‘A Question Of Time’, which is ironically slowed down heavily but still good club fodder. Lots of nice little ideas, lots of original sounds tweaked and twiddled, and fans will be delighted that JOE BOT kept Dave Gahan's vocals unspoiled. The remix ends with a short Breakbeat orgy as if PRODIGY would lurk around the corner, which is quite fun. Last but not least CLARK (‘Freestate’) and ROLAND M. DILL (‘I Want It All’) also contribute their versions of DEPECHE MODE songs. ‘Freestate’ is a bit of a missed chance, this song from the ‘Ultra’ album has the potential to be up there with ‘Enjoy The Silence’ if DEPECHE MODE did not decide to turn this fine tune into a long-winded, slow ballad. CLARK missed the chance to correct this mistake and deliver a bubbly, reduced beat with some vocals on top. ‘I Want It All’ by ROLAND M. DILL goes in a similar direction but in this case it simply works better, thanks to a much more interesting arrangement which makes it feel more like a song than just a remix, if you know what I mean.

‘Remixes 2: 81-11’ is in the end a very nice sequel to DEPECHE MODE's first remix collection from the year 2004. Fans will be delighted that most remixes in this collection are not just unrecognisable club instrumentals with a few samples of the original song but careful reinterpretations of the primary material. There's also a 1-disc version of ‘Remixes 2: 81-11’ but why should you bother with it when you can get two extra discs - including the one with the most interesting remixes - for just a few bucks more?

Tracklist (including remix rating) - 3-Disc version

Disc 1
01. Dream On (Bushwacka Tough Guy Mix) – 5/10
02. Suffer Well (M83 Remix) – 7/10
03. John The Revelator (UNKLE Reconstruction) – 7/10
04. In Chains (Tigerskin's No Sleep Remix) – 8/10
05. Peace (SixToes Remix) – 10/10
06. Lilian (Chab Vocal Remix Edit) – 4/10
07. Never Let Me Down Again (Digitalism Remix) – 4/10
08. Corrupt (Efdemin Remix) – 3/10
09. Everything Counts (Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzin Dub) – 9/10
10. Happiest Girl (Pulsating Orbital Vocal Mix) – 8/10
11. Walking In My Shoes (Anandamidic Mix) – 6/10
12. Personal Jesus (The Stargate Mix ) – 9/10
13. Slowblow (Darren Price Remix) – 7/10

Disc 2
01. Wrong (Trentemöller Club Remix) – 9/10
02. World In My Eyes (Dub In My Eyes) – 8/10
03. Fragile Tension (Peter Bjorn and John Remix) – 9/10
04. Strangelove (Tim Simenon / Mark Saunders Remix) – 9/10
05. A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) – 6/10
06. The Darkest Star (Monolake Remix) – 7/10
07. I Feel You (Helmet At The Helm Mix) – 5/10
08. Higher Love (Adrenaline Mix Edit) – 6/10
09. Fly On The Windscreen (Death Mix) – 8/10
10. Barrel Of A Gun (United Mix) – 5/10
11. Only When I Lose Myself (Dan The Automator Mix) – 6/10
12. Ghost (Le Weekend Remix) – 6/10

Disc 3
01. Personal Jesus (Alex Metric Remix Edit) – 8/10
02. Never Let Me Down Again (Eric Prydz Remix) – 6/10
03. Behind The Wheel (Vince Clarke Remix) – 8/10
04. Leave In Silence (Claro Intelecto The Last Time Remix) – 9/10
05. In Chains (Alan Wilder Remix) – 9/10
06. When The Body Speaks (Karlsson & Winnberg Remix) – 9/10
07. Puppets (Röyksopp Remix) – 8/10
08. Tora! Tora! Tora! (Karlsson & Winnberg Remix) – 7/10
09. Freestate (Clark Remix) – 4/10
10. I Want It All (Roland M. Dill Remix) – 8/10
11. Question Of Time (Joebot Presents 'Radio Face' Remix) – 8/10
12. Personal Jesus (Sie Medway-Smith Remix) – 8/10

Download bonus tracks*
Some download retailers offer bonus tracks and when you buy this collection at you will get dub mixes and instrumental version instead of the vocal versions for many songs:
In Chains (Myer vs Wilder Deconstruction)
Leave In Silence (Claro Intelecto 'Walk Away' Remix)
Master & Servant [RSS Remix]
Sister Of Night (Ida Engberg 'Giving Voice To The Flame' Remix]
Sweetest Perfection (Phil Kieran Vocal Mix)
The Sinner In Me (SixToes Remix)
The Sun & The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey Further Excerpts)
* incomplete list – please check your retailer


Dave Gahan
Martin Gore
Andrew Fletcher
*Alan Wilder ('82-'95)
**Vince Clark ('80-'81)

Website /

Cover Picture



Music: 7
Sound: 9
Extras: 8 (2 additional CDs with the 3-disc box version)
Total: 8 / 10

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