VCMG - Ssss (4 stars)

VCMG - Ssss

Vince Clark and Martin Gore minimal techno album is great fun


For many, the news that Vince Clark and Martin Gore were making minimal techno together seemed the perfect coda to the screenplay-like story of their respective musical lives. The former Depeche Mode bandmates’ last musical contact came in 1981, before Clarke’s departure to found Yazoo and Erasure, and before Depeche became global titans.

Both are heavy-hitting songwriters with distinctive back catalogues, but the result of their collaboration sounds nothing like either’s previous work. Ssss is vocal-free, with none of the weighty, often earnest melodies of Depeche Mode, but also darker and less melody-driven than Erasure. It’s stripped back and heavy. It lives in Berlin and only comes out at night, wearing little else than a cheeky grin and a swagger. In short, it’s great fun.

The production is crisp and flawless – but after 30-plus years apiece in electronic music game you’d expect nothing less. Although the pair constructed this entirely via email, without ever meeting, it still sounds like they’re having a whale of a time, especially on bona fide stompers ‘Windup Robot’ and ‘Bendy Bass’. Crucially, it’s just as much fun to listen to.

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