Soulsavers ‘Angels And Ghosts’ biography (translated)

After the announcement on the official sites of the second collaboration between Dave Gahan and Soulsavers 11 days ago, there have been four interviews so far, all by Dave. One was a text interview by Pitchfork, which was actually more about his role in DM than in Soulsavers. The other three were radio interviews (here, here, and here), which did not really reveal that much detail outside of the press release.

However, we just fell upon German promotion and marketing website, where an official biography has been put up 11 days ago… in German. In this biography, many more details about the upcoming album can be found. Thus, we took the time to translate this for you. So if you can’t read German, see below! German readers can click here. P.S. Do keep in mind that translations always may contain small discrepancies between the original text and the translation. Hopefully the biography will also appear in its original English soon.

It is the beginning of the second chapter of one of the most ambitious collaborations of the rock genre in the new millennium: after Soulsavers mastermind Rich Machin released an impressively emotional album titled ‘The Light The Dead See’ in 2012 in collaboration with Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, they now finally present the long-awaited follow-up ‘Angels & Ghosts’. ‘The Light The Dead See’ enthused both fans and critics with great strings and gospel arrangements and impressive vocals three years ago, and reached twelfth place in the German charts. With ‘Angels & Ghosts’, Gahan and Machin now present an even stronger and harder musical album, which contains an old-school narrative approach and relieving optimism in the face of utter despair. All nine songs of the album were written by Dave Gahan and Soulsavers.
As a founding member of Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan has been an essential part in the creation and work of the legendary British band for more than thirty years. In addition to his live qualities as a frontman and singer, the 53-year-old also presented his improved skills as a songwriter in recent years: in addition to some songs on the last three Depeche Mode albums, ‘Playing The Angel’, ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ and ‘Delta Machine’, Gahan released ‘Paper Monsters’ and ‘Hourglass’ in 2003 and 2007, two highly acclaimed and successful solo albums.
Soulsavers originate from the British remix culture and have released three albums so far. Before Machin, a native of English city Stoke-on-Trent, met Dave Gahan, ex-Screaming Trees legend Mark Lanegan, among others, had completed the Soulsavers songs with his distinctive baritone. The Lanegan connection was also originally the reason why Gahan had become aware of Soulsavers’ music. When the two ran into each other at a studio in Los Angeles, Gahan had already long been a fan of Machin’s artistic compositions and productions. “The album, ‘It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s The Way You Land’ was exactly the record that I needed,” Dave recalls, “just like when I heard ‘London Calling’ by The Clash when I was a teenager, or Sigur Ros for the first time. I was not aware of it, but I had been looking for it and the music touched my soul.”
Machin, in turn, grew up with the music of Depeche Mode, his penchant for the band starting in 1990 with the album ‘Violator’, when he was still a teenager. “Their albums had something dark,” he recalls. “In addition to the electronics, there were always also these gospel and blues elements, which were the musical styles that I liked, and Depeche Mode were, of course, introducing me to new paths.” In their first meeting, Machin suggested to Gahan quite boldly that his Soulsavers could support Depeche Mode – a rather casually made statement, which should lead to the formation travelling the globe for six months in 2009 as the opening act of the ‘Tour of the Universe’. After completing the tour, the possibility to collaborate finally offered itself for both.
“It all came together really obviously,” says Rich. “You did not have to be a genius to see that it worked. It was interesting to use someone who is known for electronic music and to put him in an environment with live instruments. I like bringing things in a new perspective, and it all happened quite effortlessly. I’ve worked with many people, but this kind of natural chemistry, where there is simply a ‘click’, is really very rare. And when that happens, then you just have to yield to the flow of things.” After the work on ‘The Light The Dead See’ had been completed, Machin and Gahan did not go their separate ways, but continued their work. Even before the release of the first album, Dave sent Rich a voice memo from his iPhone with a core idea for the song which is now the opener of the new LP, “Shine”. In the following period, the duo sent recordings back and forth across the Atlantic, until the finished compositions could finally be recorded.
Somewhere in the lively back-and-forths between Lower Manhattan (Dave) and Stoke (Rich), those songs that are now revealed as the tracklist of ‘Angels & Ghosts’ finally materialized. Rich sent Dave instrumental demo recordings, Dave replied with his instinctive comments. “The music gives me words and melodies,” he says concisely. To record the basic tracks, Machin suggested a band out of fellow colleagues together, from around the world. “These are not session musicians, but people with whom I have worked long enough for them to understand what is at stake,” he explained. “They are part of the project. But they live scattered everywhere: on the west coast, on the east coast, in northern England, in southern England… ”
And as if the logistical nightmare to get all the musicians was not enough, Dave and Rich had also set their mind to believing that the album should sound as if it had been recorded “live in a room”. “We have listened to a lot of old Ray Charles records,” says Rich, “we wanted this organic, ‘spatial’ sound, and we could take advantage of some great rooms this time.” Among other locations, the duo settled in Sunset Sound Studio in Los Angeles, where the magnificent but never exaggerated wind and string parts were created under the masterful direction of arranger/conductor Daniele Luppi. “I have been working with him for six or seven years,” says Rich. “He puts his arm around my shoulder and lets me enter his world. He is filled with a passion that is really contagious.”
Even with the gospel-trained background singers, led by Wendi Rose, Machin has been working for more than ten years. Her contribution to all nine tracks was recorded within a single, very hectic day at Electric Lady Studio in New York. “I’ll just let these people do what they do naturally best,” says Rich. “I like it most of all, if I can just make people get to work.” Machin is a classic “Backroom Boy”, one who prefers pulling the strings in the background. Maybe he somewhat downplays his ambitious plans that drive him to add all the different musicians together into a Soulsavers sound. But that’s not enough: he also succeeds in squeezing some of the best vocal performances out of Gahan.
“The song ‘You Owe Me’ is about seeing love as a way to escape,” explains Dave. “You can see it in a lot of things, but it is ultimately aimed to also allow it in your life. But it is no one way street. This text shows a darker side of me, one that haunts me – as if you are being torn by two sides.”
Achieving such emotional and revealing complexity is usually not too often succeeded at a song length of four or five minutes, but Gahan shows once again that he is a master of this art. When he explains how it is possible for heroes like Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, and Nick Cave to speak to him so profoundly because they sing their lyrics with such conviction and faith, it becomes increasingly obvious that he himself has also arrived in this category – a singer of colossal presence and maturity.
The opening is made by the aforementioned album opener “Shine”, a combination of gospel and Chain Gang Blues, which is the starting point for the listener of a journey that they will not soon forget. The album is crafted like a vinyl record with two sides, of which the “first side” combines the electronic elements, the harmony singing, the orchestra parts and Gahan’s existential reflection into a whole, and of which the bandwidth is much too large as to be known as mere “rock music”. Immediately after the beginning of “side two”, you enter upon the song “One Thing”, which, accompanied by an oppressive mood that is dominated by a piano, reveals far deeper worries. Only at the end of the album the mood curve is going upward again, and finds in “My Sun” a truly epic finale. “I was aiming to make an album that is in flow from the beginning till the end,” says Machin.
With ‘Angels & Ghosts’, Rich Machin and Dave Gahan present a late contender for ‘Best Album of the Year 2015’. Currently, the two are planning to bring the album live on stage. Planned are a handful of concerts in selected, prestigious theatres around the world. Performances that should not be missed under any circumstances.