After Vince Clark left Depeche Mode for Yazoo in 1981, the band transitioned from purveyors of sleek electropop to another gloomy-but-not-quite-goth synth band. Yeah, they still knew how to write good singles, but the most of their LPs were dominated by intellectually hollow philosophy rather than any truly meaningful political or social commentary (ex. “Blasphemous Rumours”). Yet somehow (possibly since their leftist concerns were often as beige as soviet slacks),
neo-Nazi alt-right spokesperson Richard Spencer missed the message and claimed the group as the official band of the alt-right, a sentiment immediately scoffed at by the public and forcefully rejected by the band. The controversy coincided with Depeche Mode’s announcement of their 14th album Spirit, another record which appears to have all the trappings of insurrection without any real urgency.
Contrast the vanilla liberalism of Depeche Mode with the vehement protest anthems of Algiers, and their commissioning of the Atlanta band to remix “Where’s the Revolution” seems like an odd decision. After all, Algiers’ commitment to activism comes with a raised fist tribute to civil rights warriors and a genuine understanding of the fraught racial history of America, while Depeche Mode jog alongside the social justice bandwagon offering platitudes best left on the dancefloor.
“Where’s the Revolution” is built on the same analog synths which made the UK stalwarts famous, but the darkness is tempered by a more organic full-band sound. Instead of completely chopping up the mix, Algiers choose to anchor the track over sparse percussion reminiscent of Southside’s production techniques mixed with hints of early techno. These revisions are slight but allow for haunting shifts in mood which pulse with musical and ideological weight. More than simply boosting synth lines or reworking the beat, Algiers lend “Where’s the Revolution” the authenticity it so desperately needs. Listen below.
As for their own material, Algiers are currently working on the follow-up to their eponymous debut. Tentatively titled The Underside of Power, the LP was recorded at Real World Studios (UK) and produced by Adrian Uitley (Portishead) and Ali Chant this past summer. Look for the record to come out this spring.