There was a time when you could walk into your average record store and find the singles section by spotting the big block of black rows. These rows signaled the whereabouts of the Ds and tended to eat up a disproportionate space of the singles section. In 2004, the Mute label condensed all of these releases into Remixes 81-04, which itself was ironically (or fittingly) presented in multiple versions. This particular version is a triple-disc set that attempts to function as a representative sampling of Depeche Mode's innumerable remixes. It does an admirable job, making a point to highlight glorified extended versions and radical reworkings alike.
English multi-instrumentalist John Surman has been known on a worldwide level, but never recognized as he deserved to be in the United States. A collaboration with John McLaughlin, or fellow Brits on the fusion or free jazz scene increased his cache a bit, but being a part of the ECM label had to have increased his visibility to a larger degree. This quite different recording of overdubbed woodwind and electronics has a suitable palate and soundscape profile for the European label, enhanced by the immaculate production values of the Rainbow Studio in Oslo, Norway, and fortified by Surman's heady and spacy revelations on this project of deep, introspective, and divine music. At his most heartfelt from the outset, a haunting refrain with flutes and recorder above synthesizers underpins a lilting bass clarinet melody on "Portrait of a Romantic," while the reverse sentiment of emptiness in a Terry Riley or Cluster like minimalism identifies "Not Love Perhaps" under Surman's soprano sax. "Roundelay" is stunning and unique to this set, with bass clarinet as an ostinato bass, buoying a full array of overdubbed saxophones sounding like an interactive quartet in a laid-back frame of sheer beauty.