During the late 80s/early 90s heyday of Depeche Mode, fans waited eagerly to receive singles from their idols, because they knew remixes would follow. While track after track made it to clubs, the side-long orchestral remix of “Enjoy the Silence” was perhaps the pinnacle of the era. The band is still together, though no tour dates are scheduled, leaving band members free to pursue their own projects.
The Third Chimpanzee was not the first solo effect from Martin Gore, or even his first instrumental entry. But the January 2021 EP left a little to be desired. Even on our instrumental-minded site, we wished for some vocals to fill the spaces of the five tracks (or four, if one combines “Howler’s End” and “Howler”). Certainly the man who brought us the classic “Compulsion” could do better, even if relocating to California? Thankfully, now he has.
The Third Chimpanzee Remixed brings fans the sounds they wanted in the first place: cavernous bass and devastating, floor-filling beats. Ten modern remixers tackle four tracks, giving each a unique spin. The set is sequenced in repeating order: Howler, Mandrill, Capuchin, Vervet, repeat one and a half times. This allows listeners to play the album as a whole without the hauntings of familiarity. But for review purposes, let’s examine the trajectory of each piece.
First there is the slow rolling “Howler,” and its sick bass. Gore writes that its “primate-like” sound inspired the title of the piece, and then the EP. With its loping tempo, the track is better heard than choreographed. Now enter the remixers. ANNA contributes a new synth line and underpinning chords. Instead of waiting until mid-track, ANNA introduces the melodic aspects early. The tempo is swifter, more inviting, with handclaps and drum layers. Now (sorry, Martin, this may not have been your intention), it sounds like Depeche Mode. The Exaltics offer a chunkier version, still crisp but darker in tone. The primate sound makes a late appearance, but the pop sheen should vibrate well at radio. Then Kangding Ray takes a shot, speeding the pace even more, making the track seem brand new. The addition of a breakbeat lends the remix a nostalgically retro tone.
Now to “Mandrill,” the track with perhaps the EP’s most distinctive sound, a distorted synth motif laid atop a pounding beat. In the original, one must decide whether to dance at 60 bpm or 120. Barker excises the latter option at first before building things up. In contrast, Rrose attacks the piece, taking it over the electronic edge and straight to the club floor. Disjointed melodies make this remix seem very un-DM-like, but highlight the value of the remix. MoReVoX removes the 60 bpm option, highlighting the mandrill’s invitation to (pardon the pop reference) dance monkey!
“Capuchin” and “Vervet” get two remixes apiece. Wehbba more than doubles “Capuchin”s length, turning it into a techno stormer, the type one would expect will be mixed into other club tracks and compilations. It already sounds like a 12”. Jlin preserves the short length and angular vision of the original, but it’s over all too soon. Conversely, JakoJako halves Gore’s long, percussive “Vervet,” but fills the nooks and crannies of the original. Chris Liebing morphs the track into a stormy, prog-trance workout, which would make a great double-A if paired with the Wehbba translation.
The bottom line: if you ignored The Third Chimpanzee, or found it too sparse, lend your ears to these re-imaginings, which do more than enhance; they improve on the originals in every way. (Richard Allen)