There’s a vision…
It’s perhaps difficult to grasp that Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark have clocked up four decades of delivering accomplished electronic music. But the band that had originally started out with the release of ‘Electricity’ on the fledgling Factory label back in 1979 have been busy celebrating their 40th Anniversary in style.
2018 saw OMD offer up an impressive performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. It was also the year that saw the publication of the brand new OMD book Pretending To See The Future (see TEC review previously) as well as the reissue of the band’s first four albums on vinyl.
But it’s perhaps the announcement of a new singles compilation and box set that’s the crown of these anniversary projects. Souvenir will feature no less than five CDs of material (including a CD dedicated to previously unreleased OMD material) combined with two DVDs of rare video footage. Topping off this OMD archive is a hardback book, poster and a series of 10″ prints. The book contains unseen photos, single sleeve artwork, an introduction by Paul Morley and sleeve notes to accompany the archive material by Andy McCluskey (see our sister site Messages for a more in-depth look at the box set contents).
The centre piece of this release is a comprehensive collection of every UK OMD single release. This includes OMD’s latest single release ‘Don’t Go’, which was recently unveiled (and also fittingly marks the band’s 40th single release).
OMD’s latest outing is a plaintive offering that deals with themes of loss and regret. The musical arrangement kicks off with plucked synth tones that lend the track an earthy foundation. For fans of OMD’s 2013 album English Electric, ‘Don’t Go’ will feel familiar with its nods to ‘Metroland’ alongside a splash of ‘Night Cafe’. The steady rhythms and machine-like delivery, similarly, have distinct Kraftwerk influences that will please those who like their synth-pop cut from the classic style.
Meanwhile, Andy McCluskey’s vocals deliver an emotive punch that at times suggests a companion piece to 2013’s ‘Stay With Me’ with their heartfelt longing (“It’s a feeling that can never fade”).
‘Don’t Go’ slots in behind ‘What Have We Done’, OMD’s last single (culled from 2017’s The Punishment Of Luxury album) and caps off 40 singles that show a dizzying array of styles and approaches from Wirral’s finest. The band’s evolution can be tracked over those various releases, from their iconic single releases from the classic four albums era; across the Crush/The Pacific Age years; the McCluskey-led OMD years in the 1990s through to the post-reformation period kicked off with 2010’s History Of Modern.
It’s not an over-estimation to state that OMD have carved out a stunning career as one of the UK’s pioneers in synth-pop history. Vince Clarke’s own electronic music catalyst had been sparked by the release of ‘Electricity’- and in returning the favour, Clarke has remixed OMD’s debut single B-side ‘Almost’ for a special 7″ release later this year.
While other bands might have settled for simply a new Greatest Hits album and a few live shows, OMD’s anniversary projects have demonstrated an impressive direction that does justice to their musical legacy.
Souvenir is released 4th October 2019 and can be pre-ordered via: https://store.omd.uk.com/collections/music/products/souvenir-5cd-2dvd-deluxe-boxset
Official OMD Website:
Our sister site Messages has a long-form analysis of the Souvenir box set.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.