Erasure – Chorus (Mute Records single, 1991)

mute records | 7″/12″/cd/c mute125 | 17/06/1991

‘Chorus’ was Erasure‘s first single since ‘Star’, the final single from the Wild! project. The difference between those two songs couldn’t be more stark, since ‘Chorus’ heralded a period of completely analogue focus for Vince Clarke, returning in many senses to the sounds and synths he had first used ten over years previously during his brief period with Depeche Mode. The intro to ‘Chorus’ is every bit as thrilling as the opening section of ‘Sometimes’, except here it’s a sound like an synth air-raid siren that kicks off the song, followed by some sonar sounds and an impassioned cry from Andy Bell before thudding, crisp metallic beats and a hypnotic, modulating bass melody and counterpoint bass pads drive the whole thing forward with a malevolent urgency. Andy Bell sings a cautionary tale that has post-nuclear overtones, appeasing the Body Shop doom-mongers of the day with a chorus that describes the sun dying, birds disappearing and fishes going to sleep; analogue intricacy in abundance, and a very deep message of impending environmental disaster (a la ‘Drama!’). ‘Chorus’ charted well and topped the indie charts. To me this still sounds perfect, unique and timeless and it will always have a place in my heart (to read more about this song’s influence on me, and the reason it is responsible for the idea of this site, click here).

The 7″ and cassette single feature the blissful pop of ‘Over The Rainbow’ (not the song from The Wizard Of Oz), which starts with a muffled German speaking clock, and whose line in the chorus ‘The boys are back in town / They’ll never let you down‘ always makes me smile, as Erasure have indeed never let me down. Andy sings about listening to ABBA – a clue to the later ABBA-esque EP? – and paints a beautiful picture of summering in Oslo. It has one of the best Vince Clarke synth riffs too, and all in all is one of my personal favourite Erasure b-sides. ‘Snappy’ is mostly an instrumental, featuring a nagging bassline, robotic sounds, a scary voice intoning ‘welcome to the world’, Nineties dancefloor-friendly beats and snatches of an Andy Bell vocal that has almost Indian spiritual overtones. Like a lot of dance music at the time, it moves around from idea to idea, but that bassline remains a constant force. (The US Maxi-CD labels this a 12″ remix, which it may be; I dimly remember having a shorter version of ‘Snappy’ as a bootleg, but I can’t find it now.)

Remixes come from Youth and Justin Robertson. Youth turns in two mixes, both having a leaning toward an early version of trance music, namely the entrancing vibe that emerged from the crossing-over of ambient and house which producer and Killing Joke bassist Youth was involved in via The Orb, Blue Pearl and others. His Transdental Trance mix (either the faded or unfaded versions which are on the CD and 12″) is a shifting, barely-there mix which takes recognisable sections from the Erasure original but gives the version a layered, dark, noxious ambient edge. The Pure Trance mix does the same but adds urgent breaks and beats and a sense of mysterious euphoria. Even Andy’s chorus shifts into view at one point.

Justin Robertson is a Manchester DJ / producer / remixer who has been spinning tunes since the early, hazy Balearic days of UK club music. His Spice Is Risen mix of ‘Snappy’ is a world away from his later trip-hop work as Lionrock, blending that track’s spiritual dimension with a more pronounced percussive beat and a dose of dancefloor kudos, making this a Leftfield / Spooky-esque slice of early progressive house.

The US vinyl and CD maxi-single releases retitled the song ‘Chorus (Fishes In The Sea)’ and included an additional mix by Youth (the Aggressive Trance Mix, which is a longer and harder extended take on the Pure Trance mix, and includes Andy’s full vocal).

Track listing:

A. Chorus
B. Over The Rainbow

A1. Chorus (Pure Trance Mix)
A2. Chorus
B1. Snappy (The Spice Has Risen Mix)
B2. Chorus (Transdental Trance Mix (Fade))

1. Chorus
2. Chorus (Transdental Trance Mix)
3. Snappy
4. Over The Rainbow

First published 2013; edited 2014.

(c) 2003 -2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

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