80's, Electro, Experimental, Hovering, Intimist, Melancholic
"Vince Clarke's 'Songs of Silence' is an intimate, oppressive ambient album which, despite its length, proves to be an electronic success."
ADRIANSTORK (03.01.2024)  
(0) opinions (1) comment(s)
Vince Clarke is a real jack of all trades. A founding member of Depeche Mode, which he left after the release of their first album, he then teamed up with Alison Moyet in Yazoo, hitting the jackpot with the hits "Don't Go" and "Only You". But relations between the duo were frosty, and Vince Clarke went in search of new partners, which he thought he had found in Feargal Sharkey, lead singer of the Undertones, and Eric Radcliffe. Despite an excellent single, 'Never Never', The Assembly quickly disbanded. In the end, it was with an unknown man called Andy Bell that Vince Clarke returned to the limelight, and for good. There's no need to introduce Erasure and their unstoppable synthpop tracks ('Oh L'Amour', 'Sometimes', 'Blue Savannah'). The keyboardist, who used to play guitar, has also collaborated with many other artists: VCMG (with his former accomplice Martin Gore), 'Automatic' (with Jean-Michel Jarre), The Clarke & Ware Experiment (with Martyn Ware)... which perhaps explains why Vince Clarke has not released any albums under his own name. A debut album, "Lucky Bastard", released in 1993, featured minimalist electronic experimentation but seemed to be little more than a joke. It would be fair to say that 'Songs Of Silence' is Vince Clarke's first proper solo album. 

Lovers of luminous synthpop should be surprised by the very first minutes of this opus. 'Songs Of Silence' invites us into wide, oppressive spaces, like the aptly named 'Cathedral', which opens the album in a massive, austere fashion. Vince Clarke successfully ventures into the world of ambient, mastering the modular synthesizers that are the main ingredients of the opus. Other elements are also woven around these electronic loops, such as the guitar that punctuates 'Scarper'. The album's masterpiece, the oriental 'The Lamentations Of Jeremiah', features Reed Hayes' eloquent cello, which takes us back to the sinister moods of King Crimson's 'Islands'. There are also a number of links to fellow artists such as John Foxx ('Cathedral' seems to evoke 'Cathedral Oceans'), Tangerine Dream ('White Rabbit') and even Pink Floyd (the loops on 'Mitosis' reminds 'On The Run' on 'The Dark Side Of The Moon'). This intimate, dark spirit is not unrelated to the context of the album's gestation, which was conceived in solitude in New York during the episode of the Covid's confinement.

The album is not entirely instrumental, however. On 'Passage', backing vocalist Caroline Joy provides a little warmth, and on 'Blackleg', a mysterious voice declaims 'Blackleg Miner', a nineteenth-century folk song. Despite its qualities, some of the minimalist constructions (particularly on 'Imminent') do feel a little long, even though none of the tracks are longer than 5 minutes. With 'Songs Of Silence', we have between our ears the rare album of a musician emblematic of an entire generation. An open door into the wonderful but icy world of ambient.

01. Cathedral
02. White Rabbit
03. Passage
04. Imminent
05. Red Planet
06. The Lamentations Of Jeremiah
07. Mitosis
08. Blackleg
09. Scarper
10. Last Transmission

Vince Clarke: Claviers
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(1) COMMENT(S)    
Merci pour ce joli coup de projecteur sur Vince CLARKE, formidable artiste multi-facettes injustement méconnu en France !
Celles et ceux qui apprécient le volet ERASURE-esque de sa carrière sont cordialement invité-e-s à rejoindre notre page facebook "ERASURE - Les Fans Francophones" :
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