Since the spring release of Depeche Mode’s politically charged fourteenth full-length, Spirit, much of the world’s existential crisis has only deepened. Meditations on our society à la Mavin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” aren’t abundant in electronic music, but that’s never stopped these genre innovators from speaking their mind.
On 1983’s Construction Time Again they took aim at corporate greed and corruption (“Everything Counts”), poverty (“Shame”), and the threat of nuclear war (“Two Minute Warning”). “People Are People,” an anti-racism anthem, followed along similar thematic lines on 1984’s Some Great Reward.
Spirit is a musical sign o’ the times that’s full of disbelief fueled by a belief that we can all do better, but it’s bogged down in preaching to the converted. This 12-pack of remixes sets that dichotomy aside and takes one of Spirit‘s best tracks to the dance floor and the meditation room.
The Belleville Three — Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson — rinse “Going Backwards” with classic techno-house Detroit vibes, forging a righteous Motor City remix of timeless synth-driven strings and four-to-the-floor thump. Maya Jane Coles and Solomun do a solid job of moulding the somber number to work in the main room, while Point Point turn in a slo-mo version flavored with cosmic boom-bap. The bundle is rounded out by the Soulsavers’ re-rub of “Poison Heart” and the Latroit remix of “You Move,” which are both on the money.
The most compelling iteration is Chris Liebing’s Slow Burn Mix. It’s a brooding, stripped down remix that forgoes euphoria in favor of a beatless, meditative soundscape. The song’s urgent lyrics remain front and center: “We’re going backwards / Turning back our history / Going backwards / Piling on the misery.” Its contemplative arc is thoughtful and purposeful. If only the same could be said for our politics.