Monday, August 20, 2018

ADHD thoughts on Depeche Mode's Songs of Faith and Devotion

I've been spending a lot of time lately learning and listening to production. I went down this rabbit hole thanks to Rick Beato's YouTube channel. He has a series of videos called What Makes This Song Great where he takes a hit song from a band and breaks down the tracks and talks about the song writing, the production techniques and the sounds of different bands. He covers classic rock, grunge and even some pop. It got me thinking about albums that I love the overall sound of.

Two albums that, in my mind, changed how things were recorded and produced were U2's Achtung Baby and Depeche Mode's Songs of Faith and Devotion. There is a shift in how things are approached that you hear a lot more in the mid to late 90's on. This now makes sense when I learned that both albums were engineered by famed producer Flood. Flood also made the jump to producer on Faith and Devotion.

By today's standards it's not a particularly dense album. But there is a depth to it that we don't hear a lot of today. Up to that time Depeche Mode was known for using drum machines and keyboards but SoFaD brought in acoustic drums and has guitars all over it. It's known as being a bit more of a "rock" album as far as synth pop bands go. The looser feel of the live drums contribute to this and the songs them selves seem darker and more driven than much of their earlier material. Live versions of Stripped and Black Celebration had pointed to earlier potential of this.

SoFaD is an album that so many bands from Linkin Park to the Deftones have listed as heavily influential. While some of my rock friends turned down their noses at "that keyboard band" I've spoken with a lot of other musicians who agree with me.

Dave Gahan with a Jackson into a Marshall
I was listening to it last night and was surprised to hear just how much guitar is on the album. Some times just laying down textures in the back ground. Listen to Walking in my Shoes which has what sounds to me like a guitar filtered through a wah and into what I'm guessing is a JCM900. It's panned left with the reverb on the right and at times there is a second guitar on the right with it's reverb on the left. I've often thought of doing a cover of the song Rush in a rock band format of guitar bass and drums.

If you've never checked them out spend some time listening to SoFaD and Achtung Baby from U2. While there are a few before them the influence of electronica on rock albums really comes from these two albums and you'll hear sounds and patterns that influenced a lot of modern rock albums in the last 20 years.

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