ARTIST: Louis Guidone
ALBUM: Destruction Time Again
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
Let's face it; Depeche Mode covers are kind of a dime a dozen. They are the most popular synthpop act of all time, after all, and a host of artists, mainstream and obscure alike, have paid their tribute, ranging from the predictable (Marilyn Manson doing "Personal Jesus") to the sublime (Color Theory's collection of personal favorites) and everywhere in between. That makes this release from prolific solo artist Louis Guidone all the more surprising, because he actually brings something new to the picture. Instead of focusing on the melancholy emotion that arguably has garnered Depeche Mode most of their fans, Guidone instead focuses on their innovative sound design and the way they brought industrial influences into the pop mainstream. His version of the instrumental "Pimpf" in particular brings to mind the experimental industrial sound of the early '80s; with its eerie looping pianos and bombastic synthesizer patches, it immediately brings to mind Coil's "Tainted Love," a similarly industrialized take on a synthpop classic. Similarly, "Work Hard" is less ironic disco than deadpan industrial pop, its bleating horn effects recalling Clock DVA's weird blend of jazz, dance and noise. That's not to say that Guidone's versions are exclusively bleak, of course; his version of "Ice Machine" is cold but funky in a retro sort of way that brings Kraftwerk to mind, and "Big Muff," another instrumental, is a joyous riot of metallic clanking. To further reinforce Guidone's emphasis on sound design, this collection also features a few covers of former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder's brilliant Recoil project, including this CD's highlight, a haunting version of "Grains" done with tender strings and lovely pianos that serves as a nice respite from the harder-edged retro electronics that surround it. While casual fans who mostly listen to Depeche Mode for Dave Gahan's brooding vocals might find Guidone's take on the band puzzling, hardcore industrial and electronic music aficionados are sure to get what he's done here; it's less a tribute to the band as a whole than a distillation of what he himself most appreciates about their music.
For more information about Louis Guidone's work, visit www.louisguidone.com.
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