Are the recent DM albums lacking in production

Discussion for Depeche Mode, and Depeche Mode related topics.

Are the recent DM albums lacking in production

Postby headstar1969 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:20 am

As this discussion was taking over the New lbum thread and potentially could be an interesting thread I've started a new thread....


headstar1969 wrote:I did say "may have". Martin always said he had no interest in that part. What may have got to him, may have been that Alan changed large arrangements and chord structures that were an important part of the song to Martin. The SOFAD demos on the boxset, show IFY to be almost identical, while WIMS and Judas to bear a quite different resemblence. Maybe this was the first time things got altered so drastically and Martin was unhappy, but out voted on what happened. If two people have very different ideas, then it's very probable there will only one winner. This is the wrong thread to be discussing Alan and SOFAD, so I will agree to disagree with you.


I think Bell created a very pure electric sound, which was shown in his remixes and the sound of the production on some of his albums. I still believe it's what DM wanted at the time. Some of the songs have a very delicate air about them, and it seems they all tried to achieve an area of space in the songs (When the body speaks and possibly Freelove are examples of this) meaning that less is more.

Hillier and his team used very obvious techniques borrowed from throughout their career. On the video we see the coins on the drum, lots of old synthisers being run through various loops and Martin adding guitars. It's then put though computers to manipulate the sounds. I felt the feel of the two albums to be quite retro. A song like Peace, just sounded like a Yazoo instrumental as it started which I thought was very cool.

I listen to everything over big floorstanding speakers at home and I think they achieve good production on everything they've done. I don't hear anything over their 30 year spa that I think, they should have done that differently. We can't change anything anyway, the recordings are flies in amber now.;)


DRE7861 wrote:Headstar, very good comments!

Again I would like to urge everyone with an opinion about thes matters to rewatch the short films for each album that came with the recent remastered reissues. In some way I think those films are designed to answer all our questions and put to bed some of the raging debates but, as typical with the band, they do it in an understated way. Just in regards to Exciter, Martin clearly states that he wanted to do something very different from the last album and something very different from Depeche Mode. In that he succeeded because even the most casual listener would say that Exciter has a different feel.

When you go back and rewatch the short films you see that Alan was starting to gripe and complain that all the producing work was falling on his shoulders as far back as Black Celebration, where the rest of the band is nipping off to take in the night life and Alan is staying in the studio to work on the tracks. In some strange way I really think that Alan's leaving help remedy the situation that help bring about the split in that now the band appears to be spending more time with the production side of things then they ever did before. One thing that amazes me is how they can sit there and listen to one track over and over in order to come up with the version they think is best without going bonkers. That has to be some tedious work.

But I agree with Pelicanito we have veered from the topic. So to help us get back onn track who else out there is psyched when you read Fletch say that he thinks the band has a couple of more albums in them! The best news of the year. Hopefully that will give a rest to the Doomers and Gloomers who after watching the Barcelona DVD were ready to pack the band off to the Old Geezers Nursing Home!


Shadowman82 wrote:Why should I dislike the project Martin and Vince are working on ? I like all of Vince's non DM work .

I want DM to keep on making music as long as possible .


Shadowman82 wrote:Yes I can see why a composer would be upset if his song was changed quite a bit but again if Martin didn't like that he could have bothered to learn production .

As for Exciter yes sometimes less definetly is more which is why I prefer the Flood mix of Freelove over the album version . Flood was wise enough to do away with all of the gimmick noises Mark Bell put into the track and gave the track a proper beat . I also think the Flood Mix shows how good Exciter could have been if a better producer like Flood had produced it . I like "When the Body speaks" .

I have nothing against the retro sound of the Hillier albums but I think they both suffer from not enough bass and bottom end as well as weak drum samples and a few needless gimmicks such as musically incoherent noises and overuse of vocoder effects .
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Postby headstar1969 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:30 am

Shadowman82 wrote:Yes I can see why a composer would be upset if his song was changed quite a bit but again if Martin didn't like that he could have bothered to learn production .

As for Exciter yes sometimes less definetly is more which is why I prefer the Flood mix of Freelove over the album version . Flood was wise enough to do away with all of the gimmick noises Mark Bell put into the track and gave the track a proper beat . I also think the Flood Mix shows how good Exciter could have been if a better producer like Flood had produced it . I like "When the Body speaks" .

I have nothing against the retro sound of the Hillier albums but I think they both suffer from not enough bass and bottom end as well as weak drum samples and a few needless gimmicks such as musically incoherent noises and overuse of vocoder effects .


I disagree about Flood's mix being better. It is an example of a very poor piece of production IMO. The bass is too loud and causing too much hum, which on alot of people's stereos must sound awful. I prefer the mix Steve Osbourne did which was a similar edit to the album version.

The gimmick noises are probably very evident to you on Dream On as well, but I think this made an interesting idea when played against the acoustic guitar.

You're right about there not being alot of bass and bottom end on the recent albums. I think they still wanted PTA and SOTU to be fairly minimal and not be flooded out (excuse the pun!) by overpowering basslines.

As for arrangements being changed in a song, that is nothing to do with production, that is someone adjusting the composition. I've never heard Martin say he was happy with the final song arrangements on SOFAD, though he praised Alan for the endless amount of time he took creating the sounds and mixing that album, which is something different.
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Postby nowhereman » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:03 am

I think we can some this up real quick.


Q - Are the recent DM albums lacking in production?

A - No
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Postby inthemodeagain » Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:11 am

SOFAD was overly produced!
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Postby Shadowman82 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:25 am

headstar1969 wrote:I disagree about Flood's mix being better. It is an example of a very poor piece of production IMO. The bass is too loud and causing too much hum, which on alot of people's stereos must sound awful. I prefer the mix Steve Osbourne did which was a similar edit to the album version.

The gimmick noises are probably very evident to you on Dream On as well, but I think this made an interesting idea when played against the acoustic guitar.

You're right about there not being alot of bass and bottom end on the recent albums. I think they still wanted PTA and SOTU to be fairly minimal and not be flooded out (excuse the pun!) by overpowering basslines.

As for arrangements being changed in a song, that is nothing to do with production, that is someone adjusting the composition. I've never heard Martin say he was happy with the final song arrangements on SOFAD, though he praised Alan for the endless amount of time he took creating the sounds and mixing that album, which is something different.


There is nothing wrong with Flood's mix of Freelove .

As for Dream on I think the song sounded better when it was played Live by Dave on the Paper Monsters tour or in the intro to the Exciter tour .

Well be that as it may I think it's time DM should go back to a fuller sound again . It just suits Martin's songs better .
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Postby headstar1969 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:45 am

nowhereman wrote:I think we can some this up real quick.


Q - Are the recent DM albums lacking in production?

A - No



Totally agree. They've just achieved different results intentionly
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Postby headstar1969 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:48 am

inthemodeagain wrote:SOFAD was overly produced!


I wouldn't say over produced, but some songs can sound very busy. WIMS has felt that way sometimes.

I think this is a testament to Alan's abilites really. It's very rich and very layered.
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Postby Shadowman82 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:15 am

That's what I liked about Alan , he could turn the arrangements almost into synth orchestras which I think suits DM . Putting in too many layers only really becomes problematic when they are not musically coherent but with Alan that was not case . Although I will say Little 15 lost a little something from demo to finished product .

I can totally see what DM were trying to do sound wise with Exciter , PTA and SOTU and that's fine . The problem is other artists have used similar approaches before with all around better results . I could link to several examples but I don't know how the admin. treats links to copyrighted material by other bands .
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Postby headstar1969 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:16 am

Shadowman82 wrote:There is nothing wrong with Flood's mix of Freelove .

As for Dream on I think the song sounded better when it was played Live by Dave on the Paper Monsters tour or in the intro to the Exciter tour .

Well be that as it may I think it's time DM should go back to a fuller sound again . It just suits Martin's songs better .


Ahh. So it's not production you've been on about really, it's having a richer, fuller soiund. I do agree that their music nowadays is a little more subtle and minimal in comparison with their 3 90s albums.

That has always made SOFAD and Ultra a very immersive listening experience and if that's what it is you miss then I can understand why you find the recent ones less fulfilling.

In 1989/90 when Violator came out fans were unhappy that Depeche were openly using guitars, when they were such a great electronic band. The first time I played Personal Jesus, I'd recorded it off the radio prior to it's release, and I played it three times, then went back to MFTM, not really that impressed with it. It didn't take me long for it to grow on me, but it was a bigger change of direction at that time than it seems when you look back on it.

I wasn't a fan back in 1983, but imagine how some fans would have felt after all the pop songs they loved, like See You, Just Can't Get Enough, Leave In Silence and Photographic were then suddenly presented with an album with harsher sounding tracks like Pipeline, Told You So and Work Hard. It was a pivitol change of direction, but not every fan was going to apreciate that.

The same is true of the latter three albums. The layers are more subtle. If they hadn't done this I think their albums would have all started to sound very similar which has never really been their way.

As for Dream On, I can also take your point, though I think alot of the remixes also showcase how good a recording it is. The Bushwacka Blunt Mix uses alot of sounds from the album version in a different way and creates a great listening experience. The band used the bassline from this mix during the instrumental break on their live version.

Dave's version of Dream On may have sounded better, but it was very guitar based, just like he did with AQOT, NLMDA, Useless and PJ which is fine, but as a recording on a Depeche Mode album I prefer the studio versions to having something with amped up guitars in this case
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Postby ryan mc govern » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:28 am

nowhereman wrote:I think we can some this up real quick.


Q - Are the recent DM albums lacking in production?

A - No

well I kinda dont agree and please I hope the get a new set of ears in on the next recording sessions as the last two albums where good ,but sound near the same and I dont even listen much to the last album as it was just a 5.5/10 FRAGILE TENSION was the ;)only real track that was original
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