Imagine you have no distractions for 47 minutes.
And, then, can listen to a piece of music intensely, giving it your full attention.
Yeah, quite a rare opportunity for many people.
And this isn’t about plugging in an MP3 player on the train ride to work – you can still find yourself looking out of the window or checking a mobile phone for messages.
Let’s face it – total immersion in music is a unique experience nowadays.
Add to the equation the chance to listen to that body of work on a high quality soundsystem, and the chances narrow even further (using decent headphones on a home music system does not count).
Last weekend, the Classic Album Sundays event was a good opportunity to get out on the road and start evangelising about Violator and the Halo book.
Organised by the wonderfully energetic and knowledgeable Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy, CAS showcases a landmark album with a mixture of a presentation, audience Q&A, with a play-back on a soundsystem brought in specially for the event.
And so, with 25 years from the release date coming up soon, it was Depeche Mode and Violator’s turn.
The discussion part of the event was interesting and fun to do (but will leave others to comment, as Murphy and I are obviously biased!), covering the history of Violator from the production to its impact on the band and fans.
But it was the play-back section which, I suspect, most people will remember fondly for a long time to come.
For the pros or the curious, the “audio menu”, as Murphy calls it, was as follows:
Audio Menu: Dynavector D17D3 MC Cartridge, Rega P9 Turntable, Rega IOS Reference MC Phono Stage, Audio Note Jinro Integrated Amp, Chord Signature Speaker Cable, Chord Signature Tuned Aray interconnects, ISOL-8 Substation Integra Power Conditioner, Klipsch SW-115 Subwoofers and Klipschorn Loudspeakers.
On other words: extremely powerful.
So the audience of about 70 people sat in silence (phones switched off!), in the semi-dark (just a few ribbons of lights on the floor for company), listening to all 47 minutes of Violator… on vinyl.
Zero interruptions – apart from flipping over the record between Waiting For The Night and Enjoy The Silence (remember having to do that?).
The beauty and enjoyment of listening to Violator in such a unique setting was extraordinary.
Quite often, when a piece of music is played extremely loudly in an open environment, a lot of the original intricate parts are lost to the acoustic reverb in the room, natural elements when outside, or the system simply being unable to cope very well with the volume.
As someone later told me:
“It’s quite a privilege to hear an album that you know so well on a soundsystem like that – incomparable to MP3s!”
It is difficult to identify all the stand-out moments of the playback – the overall experience was fabulous and fascinating.
But in particular, Policy Of Truth (for the rhythm section), World In My Eyes (is there a better opener to any Depeche album?), Halo (for the strings) and Clean (for the grinding bass).
Even the hardcore Depeche fans in the audience appeared quite moved by the experience 🙂 .
It was, in short, a wonderful event to participate in.
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Murphy deserves a lot of credit for the CAS concept. So huge thanks to her for organising the event and the opportunity to chew the fat with people about Violator (and the Halo book).
Check out the website for forthcoming sessions, when another long-player will be reviewed and get the fantastic CAS audio treatment.
The events take place regularly in London, New York and Oslo.
Thanks to all those who came and said hello, especially those who I I’ve met “virtually” on the numerous Depeche forums and groups.
Funnily enough, at the exact moment whilst we were celebrating a landmark album, Andy Fletcher and his son Joe were celebrating a Chelsea win at Wembley Stadium.
Oh well, nobody’s perfect… Sorry, Fletch 😉