Vince Clarke – Songs of Silence (Mute)

The Erasure co-founder and synth player’s first proper outing as a solo artist sees him release his debut solo studio album – an exploration into soundscapes with no words, hence the album title. The first track ‘Cathedral’ has ambient, expansive synth with a disembodied voice sample that sonically illustrates a light filled space of grandeur. The next track, ‘White Rabbit’, is a frenzied sequence of keys which turns into a high-speed hunt with an ominous hazard and tribal drumbeats beckoning at the end.

‘Passage’ is one of the best pieces on the album with its female operatic wails, however, like much of the album, it isn’t long enough, although this may be intentional as if it were giving the listener a glimpse into another world. The other problem with the release is that it borrows heavily off pioneering electronic influences such as John Carpenter as seen in ‘Red Planet’, with sounds such as the electronic bracketing, although the stealth of the track is marvellous. Another standout track arrives in the way of ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’, which contains the primordial strings of the electric cello played by Vince’s partner Reed Hays, as well as ‘Blackleg’: the only lyricised song on the release with a cavernous synth backdrop that relates the terrible treatment of miners.

There are other tracks on the album but which are basic in their production, making this first album a good attempt by Clarke to begin his solo career but lacking the confidence that he himself experiences on stage away from his Erasure partnership.

‘Songs of Silence’ is available now on vinyl, CD and digitally.

© Ayisha Khan.