“The infinite shades of sounds you can create with just the tiniest tweak of a knob or slider continues to fascinate me.” – Vince Clarke
Electronic music legend Vince Clarke has announced details of his debut solo album, Songs of Silence, a 10-track instrumental album of uncategorizable ambient beauty. The album will be available on vinyl, CD, and digitally via Mute on the 17th of November 2023, and launches today with ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’, the first piece of music to be shared from the project. Shockingly, the co-founder of Erasure, Yazoo, and Depeche Mode, who has an Ivor Novello award amongst his laurels, has, until now, never released solo work.
The cinematic composition of ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’ features a haunting cello performance by composer Reed Hays’ cello forlornly played over a Clarke’s drone from Eurorack, a modular synthesizer format, famed for its limitless configurations. During the album’s creation, Clarke set himself two rules: first, that the sounds he generated for the album would come solely from Eurorack, and second, that each track would be based around one note, maintaining a single key throughout.
“I could have gone on forever, I could have not stopped,” explains Clarke, “I was enjoying the process so much and wasn’t thinking about anyone else hearing it. But hearing it develop in my studio, in my head, learning new tricks – that’s been the best thing about this. I was in a state of shock, actually, when Mute said they wanted to release this album.” With charming self-deprecation, Clarke continues: “Nobody in my household is particularly interested in what I get up to in the studio. Even the cat used to leave after an hour or so of listening to drones.”
This isn’t that catchy, electronic jingle you’d tie to Vince Clarke – this takes on more of a cinematic tone, reminiscent of the likes of Max Richter or Philip Glass. Think Eno’s ambient vibes and the stringed notes of New Music composer Caleb Burhans.
The visuals -stark, monochromatic artistry, are courtesy of director Ebru Yildiz, a Turkish talent now based in New York, who has also worked with Laurie Anderson and David Byrne: “When I first heard the song, I felt like it contained a whole lifetime within itself,” Yildiz explains. “All of the drama and peace, anxiousness and calmness, tension and hope, and everything in between. I wanted the visuals to feel like all those extremes as well.”
In the video, Clarke lingers in some forsaken manour house…he muses, traipses, and flits his fingers in that curious void, making eyes at himself in some dusty relic of a mirror. Meanwhile the light plays tricks upon the walls and his face, marking time’s fickle dance. Just as the strings flutter about, so does Clarke with his reserved movements.
In the midst of the silent serenades of Songs of Silence, there’s a whiff of the cosmos disrupted abruptly by jarring intrusions: a pilot’s frantic radio cry, or Miss Caroline Joy’s voice, as haunting as an old ghost. And there, shining like a relic, the 1844 ballad ‘Blackleg Miner‘ becomes a veritable statement. Clarke, that clever fellow, weaves in pulsating rhythms, growing speeds, droning hums reminiscent of the old Moog, twinkling bits of synth, and the rise and fall of manipulated guitars. It’s all rather electrifying. with Clarke describing the tracks as “having a sense of sadness, of things going bad, things crumbling.”
Pre-order Songs of Silence from Mute Records here.
SONGS OF SILENCE TRACKLISTING:
- White Rabbit
- Red Planet
- The Lamentations of Jeremiah
- Last Transmission