The Third Chimpanzee E.P.
Martin Gore likes to sneak away from his main gig – Depeche Mode – to make solo records, experimental, instrumental, his band’s music is recognisable as resource but as Gore – or sometimes the moniker MG – he is almost hiding. Though Depeche fans would tell you straight away he’s easy to spot, hiding in plain sight.
This time perhaps the main gig – Depeche Mode – slipped away on him, via Covid’s plans as much as anything. And so in home-studio land it was either thumbs or knobs to twiddle. So We have Gore’s new EP. Each track named after a different primate, the album’s title coming directly from a book of the same name (by Jared Diamond) which points to human and ape similarities.
Gore synthesised the vocals to such a level they were unrecognisable as human; that’s his story anyway. So that’s where the thinking comes for song titles: Howler, Mandrill, Capuchin, Vervet and Howler’s End. And for the overarching concept and album title.
Anyway, what matters most is what it sounds like – and it’s a fantastic swathe of dark and moody textures. The opener creeps into place like Junkie XL soundtrack, big stomps of synth and it’s almost video-game like.
Mandrill has more of a groove to it, still the monkey swagger, the animal stomp, and it might even be more video game-like than the previous track, but it’s also hooky and more accessible.
Capuchin adds weird little Aphex Twin-like gestures of sound. Vervet, the album’s longest track, stretches out into a wafty groove much like Mortiz von Oswald’s best work. And closer, Howler’s End, is very much an album coda, at just two minutes.
Look at the cover, a big splodge of synthesising colours. That’s perfect representation of the sounds within. I’ve enjoyed Gore’s solo outings across the last decade, sporadic, always interesting. This might be the best of them, certainly the most cohesive and focused.