The Third Chimpanzee - EP
Martin Gore’s first two solo releases—1989’s Counterfeit EP and 2003’s Counterfeit 2—did not hugely differ from his work in Depeche Mode. Both highlighted his guileless tenor and gracefully downcast synth-pop; it was easy to imagine encountering any of the records’ songs on Depeche Mode’s contemporaneous albums. But Gore’s fascination with modular synthesizers has since led him in search of a different kind of sound: harder, more minimal, buzzing like a jolt of pure electricity. The Third Chimpanzee sticks with the palette established on 2012’s techno-flavored Ssss, made with Erasure’s Vince Clarke under their VCMG alias, and further developed on Gore’s 2015 solo album MG. Synth patches sizzle and zap, gurgle and squelch; jagged waveforms have the tarnished tone of rusty scrap metal. The throbbing “Mandrill” is among the hardest, meanest tracks in Gore’s catalog, with a synth lead that whines like a circular saw, but he also explores quieter, more contemplative terrain, like the slow-motion dub techno of “Vervet.” He can’t resist the occasional glance back at his past: “Howler’s End” harnesses weary brass stabs reminiscent of early albums like A Broken Frame and Construction Time Again, while the triplet accents of “Capuchin” invariably echo “Personal Jesus.” Even in new sounds, there are traces of old glories.