Has Depeche Mode's David Gahan found God?
Not bloody likely, even if his new solo album, Hourglass, due out Oct. 23 on Mute/Virgin Records, does reflect a preoccupation with spiritual matters.
Now clean and sober, after years of excessive living, Gahan brings forth an electronic tour de force that lays bare the inner turmoil of an artist struggling with issues of temptation, guilt and religious ambiguity.
The glorious sonic supernova "Kingdom," the first single, is an obvious highlight, but the sleazy, bass-heavy trip-hop of "Deeper & Deeper," a sinister, polyrhythmic relation to Massive Attack's Mezzanine, and the intermittent, industrial clangor of "21 Days" pack an unexpected wallop. Compared to Gahan's last album, Paper Monsters, Hourglass is a more stylish, yet harder edged, electronic affair, thanks to contributions from current Depeche Mode drummer Christian Eigner, guitarist Andrew Phillpott and engineer Tony Hoffer.
Of "Deeper And Deeper," Gahan, in press materials accompanying the release, says, "It is very sexual and very animal."
Opposite of that is "Miracles," a quiet pool of warm electronica that speaks to Gahan's quest for inner peace and includes the line "I don't believe in Jesus, but I'm praying anyway."
"It's one of my favorites, because it is so exposed," says Gahan. "Visually, it's kind of like coming in and out of the fog. Exposing a bit of what I believe in but not really. I'm going to tell you that I don't believe in Jesus but I'm gonna continue praying. Religion is not a concept that I ... I think it's archaic. But at the same time, there are many times I've found myself praying to something."
As for "Kingdom," Gahan feels more earthbound. "It's this idea that there's a better place, and it's not up there in the clouds, it's right here. And it's about becoming more accepting of life and the way it is. I would be lying if I said the world didn't affect me. I have children and I want to protect them; and sometimes I don't really have the ability to do that."
If you go and pick this one up on Oct. 23, let me know what you think. Or, if you're of a certain mind to do it, let me know what your favorite Depeche Mode songs or albums are, and whether or not you think Gahan's solo material has measured up.