Dark Progression DVD Delves Deep Into Depeche Mode

by Vish Iyer

depechemode_darkprogressiondvd_150_01As an official documentary, not authorized by Depeche Mode or their record company, The Dark Progression is stripped-down and dry – no band interviews, no fancy information booklet (in fact no booklet at all), no extra music. This documentary analyzes the progression of the band through the string of four key records – Some Great Reward, Black Celebration, Violator, Songs Of Faith And Devotion – that shaped their career and made them the greatest electronic band of all time.

In the absence of band interviews (barring snippets from archived interviews of Martin Gore and Alan Wilder), the story is told mainly by former band producers and music writers. Additionally, Gary Numan shares his view of the band and the fledgling electronic music scene during Depeche Mode’s formation, as do Thomas Dolby and Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark.

Without the flair of a “rockumentary,” strictly as a one-off documentary on a Saturday afternoon on the A&E channel, The Dark Progression is entertaining. The story it is trying to tell is one that is well-known, and no new revelations come to fore from it. But it goes pretty deep into the band’s history, specifically devoting a considerable amount of time focusing on the electronic music scene before Depeche Mode’s formation and how it became a steppingstone to the band’s formation and to the whole synth-pop scene of the eighties in the UK.

A documentary not initiated by any agenda, The Dark Progression could only be inspired by a personal interest in the band. However, it doesn’t romanticize the band, nor does it dramatize the band’s stark ups, downs, and drastic metamorphosis. But by the interviews and a matter-of-fact narrative, it picks apart each stage of the band’s development, most interestingly, taking each of the four albums separately and dissecting the band’s growth with respect to each of them.

With a runtime of 97 minutes, this is no short movie, and tries to be as meticulous in its narration as possible. As an almost intellectual study of the band, The Dark Progression might not be an exciting documentary, but its characters surely are. The interviews, especially with the musicians are heartfelt and funny.

As the documentary ends with praise for Depeche Mode’s longevity, one isn’t left with amazement or surprise, but with a modest sense of respect to this enduring act.

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