There are few terms in music journalism more overused than the old warhorse “return to form,” but what the hell else can you call it when Depeche Mode’s new album, Delta Machine, brings the band back to the kind of dark, trenchant sound the synth-poppers haven’t mined this successfully since 1990’s Violator -- “back to big, bad, and brooding,” perhaps? Whatever you want to call it, the arrival of Delta Machine also offers an opportunity to reflect on the electronic innovations that are an integral part of DM’s 32-year recording career. Never mind all the artists they’ve influenced, even a roll call of acts who have sampled Depeche Mode tracks yields an impressive array, so here’s a five of the most intriguing examples.
1. Girl Talk, “Get It Get It”
When you’re dealing with the sample-crazy Girl Talk it would remarkable if a Depeche Mode track didn’t pop up at some point, especially in a song that samples everyone from Ice Cube to Katy Perry. But when that bubbly synth riff from DM’s 1981 milestone, “Just Can’t Get Enough,” emerges, all other samples must bow down to its irrepressible might.
2. 3rd Bass, “Wordz of Wisdom, Pt. 2”
The storied NYC trio’s collective heart may have moved to a pure hip-hop beat, but the remix version of “Wordz of Wisdom” was fueled by the riff from Depeche Mode’s 1987 hit “Never Let Me Down Again.”
3. Ja Rule, “Life Ain’t a Game”
Not only did Ja Rule contribute to the Platinum-selling soundtrack for 2001 Vin Diesel vehicle The Fast and the Furious, he even appeared in the movie. But his soundtrack cut “Life Ain’t a Game” wouldn’t even have existed without the skeleton of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove” to hang its hat on.
4. Shakira, “Ready for the Good Times”
Say you’re Shakira, and you need some low, ominous riffs to undercut the effervescence of an otherwise perky, party-starting track on your breakthrough album, Laundry Service. Who you gonna call? How about whoever’s guarding the gate to Depeche Mode’s 1990 smash “Enjoy the Silence?”
5. Café Tacuba, "Dejate Caer"
On your first listen to this authoritatively thumping track by Rock En Español heroes Café Tacuba, you might well assume it’s already got everything it needs from the get-go. But when the synth lick from “Policy of Truth” appears, fully three minutes into the song, it brings the whole damn thing up another notch. Good call, guys!