AOM Logo June 1998

Depeche Mode: Ultra

Mute/Intercord 7243 4 84456 2 9

Playing time: 60:11

Christopher Tocher

Depeche Mode Ultra Cover Image"Been there, done that!". Sadly, an all-too-familiar phrase I've heard when speaking of Depeche Mode's latest release, Ultra. I would suggest, however, that you take one hour and eleven seconds of your time to sit and listen. I think you'll be in agreement with me that Ultra is an emotional departure from traditional Depeche Mode, but still maintains the razor-sharp style and raw passion for which they are known and loved.

Ultra has come after Depeche Mode's seven year hiatus from touring and recording. Within a few short months the album reached world-wide number one, with hits such as Barrel of a Gun and It's No Good. Mercifully, all other tracks have remained unscathed from radio play overkill which has probably helped in maintaining the intrigue that, at times, surrounds this most elusive of bands.

This release reveals a powerful partnership between chief songwriter Martin Gore and the rich, expressive vocal quality of singer Dave Gahan. Each song is constructed carefully, with flow, texture and emotion taking this listener on an emotional roller coaster ride. Thus, Ultra resonates with hauntingly beautiful melodies backed by superior musicianship, yet still retains the band's driving force. The creative layering of each track is topped with Gahan's impassioned vocals (undoubtedly his most ardent effort to date), the recipients of which will have their heartstrings pulled in many directions.

Commencing in the fall of '98, Depeche Mode will embark on their "The Singles Tour 86-98", in support not only of Ultra, but of an upcoming singles release. Europe is the first stop on the tour, scheduled for September and October, while the U.S. dates begin sometime in November. One can keep abreast of all the band's activities at

If you're into predictability, instrumental drivel, or incessant top-40 airplay, then Depeche Mode's Ultra is a domain into which you should never enter. The result of this substantial effort is the musical replication of real life through musical passion. As such, Ultra is the consummate release of a band that has realized its musical maturation point and has now set its own stage for great future performances.

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