‘6122 – To Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode’

❉ This is a noteworthy tribute to Fletch’s contribution to Depeche Mode from a diverse collection of artists, writes Ange Chan.

‘6122 – To Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode’

In September of this year, the shock news resounded around the world that founding band member Andrew (Andy) “Fletch” Fletcher of Depeche Mode had passed away, aged 60.  Fans could barely believe the awful news and as the realisation set in, we began to wonder what the future now held for the band as their much-loved synth player had passed away.  A few weeks after this terrible news, a live cast announcement was made by Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, the remaining members of Depeche Mode, announcing a new album and tour in 2023.  The album title had been chosen prior to Fletch’s untimely demise and somewhat sadly, is called Memento Mori which poignantly translates as “Remember, we all must die.”

Curated by Daniel Gierke of The Brute, an album of cover versions of Depeche Mode’s back catalogue by international artists has been released (on 25 November 2022) to commemorate the life and works of Fletch’s contribution to Depeche Mode and is poignantly called 6122 to reflect his birth/death years.  Whilst not an ‘official’ Depeche Mode release, the project has an impressive array of related luminaries; Gareth Jones, the producer of three Depeche Mode albums and hits like People Are People has participated in this project, as well as Bernhard Lloyd (known as a member of Alphaville, who wrote in the 80s synth-pop anthems like Big In Japan and Forever Young) with his current project Atlantic Popes. The aim was to bring together different artists from different decades, old musical companions of Fletch, as well as known artists across different genres, and promising new bands who have been influenced by Depeche Mode’s sound.  From Rock, Electronic, Alternative, Pop, Crossover to Synthwave, everything is represented on this album.

6122 is a truly international affair with artists from not only Europe, but all over the globe, including Watershed from South Africa, who rose to global fame with their 2002 hit Indigo Girl, the UK’s Shelter, Northern Kind, Tin Gun, Polly Scattergood and Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb. The iconic electronic music pioneers from Italy, Kirlian Camera, and Carlos Peron co-founder of the Swiss band Yello. Markus Reinhardt, formerly a member of German band Wolfsheim, Nico Wieditz of And One, Roy Jones, and The Brute.

In total, there are twenty-nine acts from the UK, the US, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, Sweden, Italy, Hungary, South Africa and Switzerland who are saying See You Fletch, in such a stylish way.  This is a truly diverse, international collection of artists who have really excelled in their tributes to Fletch, and Daniel is to be congratulated for curating such a noteworthy tribute.

The profits from the album are being donated to the German Children’s Cancer Trust and Jessie’s Fund, a music therapy trust for children based in York, whose previous patron was the much-missed comedian, writer, actor and producer Victoria Wood, prior to her passing in 2016.

The album opens with Daniel’s own musical project, The Brute and their version of A Question of Time from the 1986 album Black Celebration.  This cover version stays pretty faithful to the original version with the vocals sounding spookily similar to that of Mode’s leader singer, Dave Gahan.  It’s a great choice for an opener, introducing the album on a high.

Next, we hear from Watershed and their version of one of my own personal favourite Depeche Mode songs, namely Never Let me Down Again, in which they’ve produced a more melancholic take on the original.

NightNight’s In Your Room offers a darkly ethereal version of the song, originally from the 1993 album Songs of Faith and Devotion.  This slowed down version is a great example of a cover version and gives something from NightNight’s own ethos, which I love.  With the lyrics delivered in a slower way, the track takes on a darker, more haunting feel which really works well.

The pared-down takes continue with Renard featuring Mary Ann who chose an early Depeche Mode number, fan-favourite Ice Machine from the B-side of the 1981 hit Dreaming of Me. Again, I really like this interpretation and it was great to hear a new take on an old favourite.  At the close, there’s a short montage of an instrumental from the original version which provides a thoughtful juxtaposition.

The pace is picked up with Redeem’s version of Broken providing an industrial treatment, with strong beats and Germanic vocals, which I like.  Its energetic take would sound similarly amazing in a live setting, with a strong drum presentation.  Starlights Live chose the successful Depeche Mode single Stripped (again from 1986 album Black Celebration) which loses none of majesty of the original version and celebration the use of the synthesizer making this a perfect celebration to the band’s synth man Fletch.

Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode.

Apsurde feat. Manoya chose an early track from Depeche Mode’s first album Speak and Spell, and another personal favourite The Sun and the Rainfall. Their version offers a new take on this old favourite which made me want to re-listen to the track over and over again (see what I did there?).  Northern Kind also perform a version of this song on the album, however their version remains truer to the original Depeche Mode sound, albeit with female vocals offering a slightly different ethos to the track.

Continuing with the early song releases, we’re also treated to Cold Connection’s version of Secret Garden taken from their 1982 album A Broken Frame, and also the b-side of their hit Leave in Silence which is heavy on the analogue synths and offers a similar sound of the original song but with their own unique take.  This song represents Fletch at the beginning of his career with Depeche Mode and was the first album they released as a trio after the departure of Vince Clarke.  The album was wholly written by Martin Gore, showcasing his song-writing abilities, and thus securing Depeche Mode’s future after Vince’s unexpected exit.

Another track worthy of mentioning is Bon Harris’ version of In Sympathy.  Bon is from the industrial band Nitzer Ebb, also from Essex and who have publicly stated that they are heavily influenced by Depeche Mode, so it’s good to hear this particular track.  The song presented here is a gentler version of the song, which focuses on the analogue synth sounds and really works very well indeed.  It’s particularly interesting to hear Bon release a different sound to the EDM/industrial tomes of Nitzer Ebb that we’re usually used to.  Great track.

Picking up the tempo is LeBen’s version of Depeche Mode’s best-known hit, Enjoy the Silence (taken from the 1991 album Violator) offering a rockier version of the song. This version is heavier on the drums, and produces a completely different take on the original, which is pleasing.  The synths here have been used to strong effect in co-ordination with the live drum melody.  Taken from the same album, UK-based synth songstress Polly Scattergood interprets Personal Jesus in her own unique way.  I love this song anyway, but here I particularly liked the middle eight melding into an instrumental ending which had me strutting round the kitchen like Dave Gahan on acid!

Kirlian Camera chose Wrong from Depeche Mode’s 2009 Sounds of the Universe album which was physically released as their 46th single in April of that year, having been released digitally in the February.  In complete contrast to the original, this version starts out quietly and slowly builds to a crescendo.  It’s a great interpretation of the song and is one of the standout tracks for me.

Shelter, who have performed and recorded extensively with Erasure, decided to go back to the very beginning of Depeche Mode’s career with the song Photographic which was originally released on a compilation album called the Some Bizzare Album, which also launched the career of original label mates, Soft Cell. This version offers Shelter’s trademark upbeat pop style and uses synth sounds and drum machines to an astounding effect.

Slowing the pace down somewhat, we have Tin Gun’s version of I Feel You. Providing all of the confident swagger of the original track, from the album Songs of Faith and Devotion, Tin Gun’s version delivers precisely en pointe; emphasising the lyric “this is the dawning of our love” and heavier where it needs to be, and I look forward to hearing this track performed live when I next see the band in concert!

The album ends with another track from The Brute feat. Rachel Delgado, namely Breathe which is usually sung by Martin Gore and which lyrically defies rumours about a particular relationship.  It’s true to the original but it’s good to hear the song sung from a female perspective, which offers a new slant of the original song taken from the 2001 album, Exciter.

It’s absolutely impossible to have reviewed each and every one of the vast array of 28 tracks on this album, so inevitably I have missed some of the artists/tracks out of my review. This is normally where the cover version is so similar to the original track that I have nothing further to add.  However, their contribution to this overall project is greatly valued and it’s been wonderful to hear all the different interpretations of a band I have loved for so many years.

Track Listing

CD1

01 A Question Of Time – The Brute :
02 Never Let Me Down Again – Watershed
03 In Your Room – NightNight
04 Ice Machine – Renard feat. Mary Ann
05 Broken – Redeem
06 Stripped – Starlights Live
07 Little 15 – Atlantic Popes
08 The Sun And The Rainfall – Apsürde feat. Manoya
09 My Secret Garden – Cold Connection
10 It’s No Good – Oxic Inc. feat. De La Morte
11 Dream On – Roy Jones & Red Beat
12 Should Be Higher – The Rude Awakening
13 Somebody – Toal, The Brute :, People Theatre
14 In Sympathy – Bon Harris (Nitzer Ebb)
15 Heaven – Zentrum Ost 71

CD2

1 Enjoy The Silence – LeBen
2 Personal Jesus – Polly Scattergood
3 Wrong – Kirlian Camera
4 Policy Of Truth – Rohn-Lederman
5 To Have And To Hold – Page Of Quire
6 Angel – Tom Meeloo
7 The Sun And The Rainfall – Northern Kind
8 Photographic – Shelter
9 A Barrel Of A Gun (El Presidente Peron Yeah John) – Carlos Peron
10 I Feel You – Tin Gun
11 I Feel Loved – Daniel Hall feat. Stephen Newton
12 Oberkorn (It’s A Small Town) – Electrogenetic by Gareth Jones
13 Clean – Neocoma
14 Breathe – The Brute : feat. Rachel Delgado


❉ Originally released on 25 November 2022, ‘6122’ is available to buy via in its physical form from www.thebrute.com/6122

 A lifelong lover of music and prominent contributor to Me and the Starman (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon), Ange Chan is a Freelance Writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry.

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