La Rochelle, November 1985
My very dear Eponine,
Yes, it’s victory; yes it’s relief. Even though battle is not completely over.
But I’ve been so joyful on this set, so excited that you all were here in this euphoric mood; and opportunities like this one are quite rare; I let my feelings explode by mixing. It even amuses Virgil when I’m an extrovert like that.
It was obvious for me to put Propaganda on it. Not only because we all love the band, but also because people generally don’t know any other song than “Duel”; and “P.Machinery” which was released as a single in September.
The whole album is a treasure, in its entire unfolding that tells a story.
I’m not a specialist of the band, by far, but I’m gonna tell you what I know and what I feel about them; hoping it will give you some ideas for your work. I noticed them as the new nugget of ZTT label; who also produced stuffs that I love like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Art of Noise and ( sob !) Anne Pigalle ( exquisite; in Everything Could Be So Perfect)
To me, Propaganda is the expression of elegance, and themselves told that they wanted to do some sort of elitist music…for everyone! There is in all details of their work a researched sophistication, in themselves first ; Ralf Dörper and his early experimental recordings already noticed by John Peel, Michael Mertens and his classical background as musician and composer and of course, of course the girls. The precise and metallic sound of Susanne’s voice, and the warmer and more pop inflections in Claudia’s vocals, they both form a mesmerizing duo which sometimes blows hot and cold on the synthesizer layers, sometimes take turns rising on enraged drum machines.
I am of course thinking on “Jewel”, which approach is not obvious. Some “Duel” lovers hate this track, hearing only an uncontrolled outburst over a profusion of effects in it. Others like me remain breathless in front of such a daring construction which figures so intensely the discharge of aggressiveness going with the “Rough Cut”. Duel is a perfect composition combining the roar which inflicts cuts and the jubilant rythm of a dancefloor tune; Jewel is the shameful and awesome outpouring of it. That’s why you heard me playing, not “Jewel” , but the longer ”Jewelled” in my set. I’ve taken it in a brand new album for the American club market : Wishful Thinking, composed of remixes of tracks from A Secret Wish.
You can recognize on it, in a more stylized visual, the iron meshes of the corset, or of the armor which holds the center of A Secret Wish cover. This instrument, eventually worn by Claudia; as well as the war paintings on their necks and bare shoulders evoke the martial aspect of several songs like “Duel”, “Frozen Faces”, “The Murder Of Love”.
You won’t avoid documenting yourself about the german cultural background on this album from our four Dortmunder members. The musical heritage of electronical pioneers like Kraftwerk , from Düsseldorf; but also the cinematographic universe of Fritz Lang which of course underlies “ Dr Mabuse”; but also “P.Machinery” with direct reference to Metropolis.
The opening and closing of the album to finish, which echoe in the verses of Edgar Poe; in the first long track “ A Dream Within A dream” , with his languid saxophone, and just after the wonderful final “Strength to dream” ; and its symphonic scale on a stormy background; Susanne’s voice saying again
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
Well , these are just impressions, thrown without real order on my page; they’re a bit subjective, for I really felt in love with A Secret Wish; and you’ll be glad to know that Martin Gore did too…
I’ll try to study more and bring you technical precisions, but I guess I guess Colin will do the same on his side.
It’s such a pleasure to have met you both; and your parents. Your mother reminds me a german teacher I had in my last year in the Collège Saint-Exupéry when I was fifteen. Both seem so discreet, but with such an accurate sense of humor… The lady I’m talking about came to France when she was 18, and eventually, in her first year of marriage , became so attached to La Rochelle and its history that she settled there.
They adopted a big red cat that she didn’t like very much because of his “hypocrite manners” ; she called him Richelieu …
I don’t what for this anecdote will be useful to you, but you know me now; I can’t stop talking.
Have such a great November time, dear lark; we shall see each other with Colin again in La Rochelle around Christmas; Virgile and I are invited to mix in a night club, for a very different atmosphere ; you’ll see…
Loads of kisses
( Most of my pictures are taken on Lansure’s Music Paraphernalia. http://lansuresmusicparaphernalia.blogspot.com/
Thanks to him !!! )