In case you haven’t heard, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, who last worked together 30 […]
In case you haven’t heard, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, who last worked together 30 years ago during the early days of Depeche Mode, have unexpectedly reunited to create minimal techno under the name VCMG. We’re just as surprised as you are, although the shock stems more from questions of “why now?” than any sort of bewilderment about the pair’s stylistic shift. In reality, it’s not that huge of a leap from the pair’s various synth-heavy endeavors to the world of techno. Nevertheless, that’s also no guarantee that the music cooked up by VCMG will actually be any good.
In reality, Spock isn’t a bad record. Both Clarke and Gore are electronic-music veterans, so the production here is professional and clean—if anything, maybe a little too clean. More importantly, the pair has managed to avoid any embarassing stylistic gaffes. The EP’s title track is a pretty standard piece of German-indebted techno, a pulsing, not-quite-minimal affair with a chunky bassline and various dramatic synth sweeps. “Spock” strives to be the sort of taut tune that guides the late-night dancefloors of places like Berghain, and although it doesn’t quite succeed, it’s certainly not a bad attempt. The track’s strongest elements are the extended buzzing tones which come to the forefront about two minutes in, but they are unfortunately abandoned in favor of more pedestrian elements.
The remainder of the Spock EP consists of four remixes of the title track. The most prominent (and best) is likely that of DVS1, who strips down the song to its core elements, only to construct an extended, hypnotic journey with a metronome-like beat and a deliciously looping melody. A surpsingly solid effort is also turned in by XOQ, a new moniker being utilized by Uberzone (yes, that Uberzone), who transforms “Spock” into an effective dancefloor cut with thick bass tones and borderline-haunting synth melodies. It’s a bit ravey and the breakdown in the middle teeters dangerously close to cheeseball territory, but the track fortunately never gets too over the top. The same can’t be said for the Edit Select remix, which draws out the melodies and attempts to forge something epic, but ultimately sounds a tad dated. The Regis remix fares better by whittling down the bombast of the original, but might be the least memorable of the bunch.
In the end, Spock is an adequate release. It’s not amazing, but the remixes are serviceable and the record is not going to wind up as a black mark on anyone’s resume. It’s also only the first in a series of EPs from VCMG, all of which precede a forthcoming full-length album. For now, we’re willing to wait and see before making some sort of definitive judgement about the project.