My friends James and Adrian were having a social gathering, and I knew that the time was right to test out the new 5.1 Depeche Mode remaster. Apparently, Rhino is releasing an initial wave of three, the band's debut Speak & Spell, 1990's Violator, and this particular album. I sincerely hope that they'll get around to a 5.1 mix of 1984's Some Great Reward, because if this initial wave is any indication, they know what they're doing. I haven't had this kind of a joyous response to a 5.1 remix of a beloved album since last year's remaster of R.E.M.'s New Adventures in Hi-Fi, so take that as high praise.
The album sounds gorgeous on both the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the DTS track. The latter had a bit more going on with some of the electronic noises on the Aggro Mix of Never Let Me Down Again (one of the many bonus tracks that has also been remixed into 5.1 surround sound), but I found both tracks to be simply delightful. The slow build of "The Things You Said" was like a ghostly visitation, and the spinning hubcap at the beginning of Behind The Wheel felt like it was there in the room.
The album itself is one of the band's best and most consistent, and its remaster here is nicely appreciated. The folks at Warner went all out to make this a nice release, and the only possible complaint that I have is to the paucity of remixes. Especially after hearing how 80s remix technology lends itself beautifully to 5.1 separation on the aforementioned Aggro Mix and on the Glitter Mix of Pleasure Little Treasure, I can't help but wonder how amazing the Maximix of Strangelove or the Ivan Ivan Behind The Wheel/Route 66 Megamix would sound given a similar treatment.
But why pick hairs, as this is the kind of love that Music For The Masses has been demanding for quite some time. With the consistency that Warner is showing its 5.1 projects based on this, The Flaming Lips discs, and those R.E.M. remasters, I can honestly say that I look forward to their next undertaking. Just as long as Some Great Reward and Black Celebration are in the next wave.