At times, history has an inherent gravity, a sense of direction, some indescribable force that can mean that things will reach eventually their natural conclusion, regardless of the timescale involved. The often-inescapable process is at the heart of Modus: the new/classic album from Nature of Wires.
The album had its genesis back in the late 80s and early 90s, when the band – comprising Gary Watts and Andrew Stirling Brown for most of that period – were in the middle of a creative hot streak. Life and responsibilities got in the way of the band pursuing the material they’d put together, something the band felt now needed addressing.
The eight songs that make up CD1 of Modus were born in a time of personal and musical change, something that comes through with striking clarity in the music and lyrics; but the band do not view the album as an exercise in nostalgia. In fact, with access to top of the line music technology and connections in the music industry that were not available to them at the time, the duo have refined and reinterpreted the inner soul and meaning of each song to create something that echoes an exciting time in the history of electronica and dance music, but which also easily holds its own in the modern synthpop scenes.
Gary Watts had this to say about the album: “Modus includes songs written between 1986 and 1993, recreated using 21st century technology. We want to look back on this album in 20 years’ time and be satisfied that it is as good as it could possibly have been and so we’ve drafted in some top producers, namely Steve Whitfield (The Cure, The Mission, Shed Seven, Terrorvision, Jah Wobble, Promenade Cinema, Zeitgeist Zero) and Mike Marsh (Calvin Harris, OMD, Human League, Chemical Brothers, Moby, Shamen, Massive Attack, Erasure, 808 State, The Prodigy, Depeche Mode). Artwork is by the super-talented Vlad McNeally. It is our final farewell to our younger years, being representative of the sound we created back then,”
Vocalist Andrew agrees with those sentiments, adding: “CD1 of Modus presents the retro-electro, ‘lighter’ side of our writing, influenced by the synth-pop of the 80’s & 90’s scenes. A ‘definitive’ version of the material we had back then, but with a modern edge. It brings together the core of our older fan-favourite songs and includes the very first one we wrote and one left unfinished in 1993, finally completed over 20 years later! Of equal importance to us is CD2 of the album. We originally envisioned it as not just a collection of remixes, but as a deliberate companion or twin to Modus. We wanted it be as cohesive in design, sound and running order as CD1 (plus a couple of extras!). It provides a whole new interpretation and ‘vision’ of the cycle of songs. So, it’s not a double album, it’s a dual album.”
CD2 sees Nature of Wires curate re-imaginings of Modus CD1 – with labelmates including Room 1985, The Cowls and ATOMZERO re-interpreting the tracks, applying their own vision whilst being faithful to the spirit underlying the originals. Additionally, Leaether Strip and MESH are among the heavyweights of alternative electronica that have worked their remix magic in their own impeccable styles, adding to the sense of history that underpins Modus.
There’s a sense of finality to Modus, as well as a statement of intent. Think of the album as the last step in the rebirth of Nature of Wires, coming to terms with the past in a glorious and positive fashion, and preparing for an exciting future. With the current line-up going from strength to strength, European gigs and new music in the pipeline Modus is a fitting tribute and farewell of sorts to the first incarnation of the band.