It’s about that time again: we’re heading back through the earlier days of modern electronic music. All of our favorite artists gained their inspirations from somewhere, and learning about the history and roots of the past will help us to appreciate our scene even more. Last month was all about Kraftwerk, with various albums and songs that inspired many. Now, join us as we touch on various events and songs by artists that are staples in our current electronic music scene.
Events in History: June 1988
It all starts in the early 80s during the New Wave era in Britain. Students Vince Clarke, Andy Fletcher, and Martin Gore met after working in various different bands but came together to form Composition of Sound in March 1980. Shortly afterward, Clarke heard the Wirral band Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, which inspired him to make the switch to electronic music (p. 41). Fletcher and Clarke switched to synthesizers and worked various odd jobs to earn money to purchase new instruments. Dave Gahan joined the group not long afterward in 1980 after Clarke heard him perform a cover of David Bowie’s Heroes at a local jam session. From there, Depeche Mode was born.
While playing at the Bridge House in Canning Town, Daniel Miller, the founder of Mute Records, reached out to the group to record their first single on his rapidly growing electronic music label. This brought about their first single Dreaming of Me, which they released in February 1981. Their debut album Speak & Spell released in October 1981, peaking at #10 on the UK album charts. Clarke left the group shortly afterward in November.
In late 1981, Depeche Mode put out an anonymous ad in the magazine Melody Maker looking for an additional band member. Alan Wilder responded to the ad, and after two auditions they added him to the group as a touring keyboardist. Wilder would later be described as the “Musical Director” and was responsible for the group’s sound until he departed in 1995.
The group continued on to release various singles and albums that commented on political and social themes, such as Construction Time Again and Some Great Reward. Depeche Mode garnered a lot of success in European countries. They continued that trend even after adjusting to a darker tone with more pessimistic lyrics on their album Black Celebration in 1986. It wasn’t until their album Music for the Masses and their following tour that they began to garner mainstream regard in the U.S.
Music for the Masses was an album in which the group wanted to sample more synth experimentation. While their main singles from the album Strangelove, Never Let Me Down Again, and Behind the Wheel did poorly on the UK charts, they performed well in countries where Depeche Mode had not previously, such as the U.S., Brazil, Canada, West Germany, and Sweden. They began their Music For the Masses tour shortly after the release of the album, concluding the tour on June 18, 1988, in Pasadena, California. Depeche Mode performed at the Pasadena Rose Bowl that year, with over 60,000 people in attendance (p. 265). It was the highest number of people in paid attendance at the venue in over eight years. The tour was a breakthrough for the band, especially in the United States where they previously struggled to gain momentum.
Songs in History: June 2000
In other parts of the world, other genres were beginning to spread through various outlets. The psychedelic trance duo, Infected Mushroom was continuing to grow in Israel and the surrounding areas. The group, consisting of duo Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani, formed in 1996 in Haifa. Drawing on inspirations from classical training, The Prodigy, Metallica, X-Dream, and Transwave, they began to take a unique approach to traditional psy trance sounds. They released their first album The Gathering in 1999, which was the first time Israeli psy trance was expanding to mainstream audiences. One of it’s most popular tracks, Psycho even featured in the 1997 Batman & Robin movie.
On June 20, 2000, the Israeli psychedelic duo releases their second studio album Classical Mushroom. In contrast to their first album, Infected Mushroom used their classical backgrounds to incorporate a different sound. The album was an experimentation of classical music and electronic music, featuring samples from films such as Dracula, Excaliber, Virus, Merlin, Tomorrow Never Dies and more! The track Bust a Move was one of the most regarded off the album and features samples from Species II. Some consider it one of their most praised productions, and the group’s best efforts as they continue their sonic revolution. Infected Mushroom has some of the highest grossing domestic and international album sales for an Israeli musician.
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