ALBUMS: Martin Gore Isn’t Monkeying Around on New EP

The Third Chimpanzee finds the Depeche Mode guitarist and songwriter diving deeper into his experimental side

Martin Gore The Third Chimpanzee, Mute 2021

Depeche Mode albums may not come as fast and furious as they did in the ‘80s, at a clip of almost one album a year.

But that doesn’t mean Martin Gore, the principal songwriter for the iconic group, is on a creative hiatus in between Depeche Mode releases. 

The prolific Gore is always in his Electric Ladyboy Studios (presumably a play on New York City’s famed Electric Lady Studios) in Santa Barbara, California. Here, he has amassed a collection of old and new gear, which he plays with constantly. Without the pressure of creating another Depeche Mode masterpiece—which he has consistently done, and continues to do for 40+ years—noodling with his studio toys becomes a creative outlet.


Artist: Martin Gore

Album: The Third Chimpanzee

Label: Mute Records

★★★★ (4/5 stars)


The latest collection of output from these low-pressure sessions is an instrumental five-song EP, The Third Chimpanzee. The EP comes five years after his 16-track instrumental and cinematic MG album, and many years after Gore’s previous solo releases: Counterfeit EP and the Counterfeit2 album. 

Experimental and industrial, a bit like Nine Inch Nails without lyrics, The Third Chimpanzee tracks are named after various types of monkeys: “Howler,” “Mandrill,” “Capuchin,” “Vervet” and the closing reprise “Howler’s End.” The monkey theme is not intentional. None of Gore’s always thematic solo releases are, it’s just what emerges as defined tracks start forming. Plus he had read the book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, so it all fell together.

 

VIDEO: Martin Gore “Howler”

There is no need for words with these emotive and atmospheric numbers which go from dark, harsh and repetitive to soaring and emotional of the course of five minutes, e.g., “Howler.” A different dichotomy happens on “Mandrill” which begins terrifying and dystopian and shifts into bright and spirited. “Capuchin” has so much character in its instrumentation, the music sounds like it has words embedded in it. The eight-minute opus, “Vervet” is a combination of chimes, electro vibrations and shudders broken up by unexpected yowling synth patches which move so effortlessly that it’s over before you can tire of it. 

The Third Chimpanzee ends on a bold, echo-y notes with “Howler’s End,” leaving the listener feeling like they’ve been through a whirlwind of emotions in under 25 minutes. 

The EP will be released on Jan. 29, 2021 digitally as well as on CD and a limited-edition 12-inch Azure Blue vinyl, which also includes an art print by Pockets Warhol.

 

VIDEO: Martin Gore “Mandrill”

 

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Lily Moayeri

Lily Moayeri has been a freelance journalist since 1992. She has contributed to numerous publications including Billboard, NPR, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, Variety, Spin, Los Angeles Magazine, A.V. Club, and more. Lily hosts the Pictures of Lily Podcast, a bi-weekly podcast about her interviewing experiences. She has participated as moderator and panelist at numerous music conferences. She has also served as a teacher librarian since 2004 focusing on guiding students in navigating the intersection of technology and education.

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