Depeche Mode’s remarkable 1980s non-album singles and B-sides

My introduction to British electronic band Depeche Mode was through the video for the brilliant single Everything Counts, from their 1983 album Construction Time Again.  It was strikingly unlike anything I’d heard before and made me an instant fan.  To this day they’re one of my favorite bands.  Very few artists in popular music have created such a singularly distinctive sound, or sustained such a prolific and distinguished career.

In the 80s I devoted unreasonable proportions of my hard-won teenager’s income to obsessively collecting every release in Depeche Mode’s catalog (as best a suburban California kid could do, pre-internet) which led to uncovering quite a lot of lesser-known gems.  As the band are currently promoting a series of boxed sets of reissued singles from their early career, I’m struck by how much of their best work in the 80s could only be found on singles.

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Making the MC624 Remote (in Exhausting Detail)

I made something.

This thing is a hardwired desktop remote control unit made to interface with the Sound Skulptor MC624 stereo monitor controller.  The remote sends control commands via a serial interface to the MC624 (which performs all of the actual audio handling) and indicates the selected input, output, volume level, and other monitoring functions.

The Eye Socket MC624 Remote.

Designing and building this device was a quite complex and challenging process for me, with a number of peculiar problems to solve and new skills to learn.  The project developed sporadically over the course of seven months, from sketchy concept in February 2017 to finished piece in September.  Reflecting on this process I have decided to document it here.  My hope is that I have included enough detail to be useful to those who might be interested in building a similar device, but not to overwhelm those who are simply interested in the story.

This remote is not available as a product for sale, but all the technical details of my design, including the panel designs, part sources, wiring diagrams and open-source code, are shared freely on Github.  

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Face to Face – Big Choice reissue

My old pals face to face are celebrating 25+ years as a band with a ton of good stuff.  Their latest album Protection (released March 2016) marked their return to Fat Wreck Chords and has earned great reviews everywhere.  A new 7″ single from the album is coming out in May.  The band continues to tour all over, and in May and June of this year they will reprise their legendary 1996 “Econo Live” tour with a series of small club shows around the U.S.

The band’s classic first three albums have also received long-awaited vinyl and digital reissues through Fat Wreck, remastered by the outstanding Joe Gastwirt.  The second album Big Choice is a special case:  For the reissue, Trever and I remixed the entire album from the original multitrack master tapes.  The new mixes give the album a more honest sound, presenting the band’s performances straightforwardly and without the “studio polish” that adorned the original release.  (See below for more about this process.)

The Big Choice reissue is available on vinyl from the band’s official storeFat Wreck, Amazon, and your local record shop.  It’s also on CD and digital from iTunes, Google Play, etc.

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The Short Term – Burn This Bright

Boston alt-rock trio The Short Term have just released their debut EP Burn This Bright, following their successful Indiegogo campaign.

In what has become a true 21st century convention, we recorded the drum tracks together in a “proper” studio, Q Division in Somerville, and the band recorded the other tracks in their own studio. I then mixed and mastered the record here at the Eye Socket.

The EP is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.