Recoil Live at El Rey Theatre: Alan Wilder on Touring for the First Time Since Leaving Depeche Mode
Friday night, Alan Wilder brought his long-running electronic music project Recoil to the El Rey. For fans of the former Depeche Mode member's work, it was a momentous occasion. This was Wilder's first tour since he left Depeche Mode in the mid-1990s. However, this wasn't a typical concert.
Liz Ohanesian Alan Wilder backstage at the El Rey
Recoil is an interesting project. It was sample-heavy and guest vocalist-based long before those elements had become fashionable, let alone before they began to drive fans into concert seats. There are typically large gaps of time left between albums. One couldn't help but wonder why Wilder chose this year, with his latest album being the retrospective Selected, to hit the road.
"It was just the idea that we had to do some promotion, not had to, but needed to do, wanted to do some promotion from this album," said Wilder backstage at the El Rey. "I thought that I can't just turn up and shake hands every time we do a promo and not do anything else."
He added, "The idea was to do a really small presentation with a bit of music and a bit of film." But "A Strange Hour," as the events are called, became more than that.
"It evolved into a much bigger campaign into what was initially intended."
This tour is quite different from the live shows with which he had been involved in the past.
"I was really nervous, I'll tell you that," said Wilder. "I didn't know what to do with myself because with Mode, on the last tour, I did drumming, I was quite physical, I had quite a lot to do. I like a challenge. With this, I realized that this is more of a prepared presentation. I don't necessarily do that much on stage. So, I felt a bit anxious, then I relaxed found a few more things to do and realized that I could relax and enjoy the music."
On stage, Wilder is joined by frequent collaborator, producer Paul Kendall. They perform what could be described as a live remix sort of set. Much of the music, Wilder mentioned, is prepared beforehand, but they used Ableton on stage to add effects and otherwise alter the recorded work. They slipped in a few non-Recoil tracks, like a wild version of The Normal's seminal electronic jam "Warm Leatherette" and a few heavily-altered snippets of Wilder-era Depeche Mode hits ("Never Let Me Down," "Personal Jesus"). Behind them, a series of short films created specifically for the events played on a large screen. Multiple filmmakers contributed to the project, including Dimitry Semenov, who Wilder had met when the Russian director sent him a clip he had made for the track "Allelujah," from the 2007 album subHuman.