There’s nothing quite like a musicless music video to make pop stars look like tragically deluded Miss Havishams as they yelp and gyrate their way through awkward, tuneless performances. Audio saboteur Mario Wienerroither has previously performed this ego-deflating service for The Beastie Boys and the ad hoc duo of Mick Jagger and David Bowie. His latest victims/beneficiaries are British synthpop stalwarts Depeche Mode. Wienerroither has produced an alternate-universe video of the quartet performing their 1981 biggie “Just Can’t Get Enough” on French television. Wienerroither has done away with the prerecorded music, leaving the musicians to continue on in eerie near silence. The keys of their synthesizers click and clack but otherwise produce no tones. Lead singer Dave Gahan claps and twirls and occasionally approaches the microphone long enough to emit some kind of weird sound. His shoes make quite a racket, too. The only musician on stage pulling his weight here is the windup pink bunny rabbit on drums. Another interesting point is that, when said aloud by an actual Frenchman, the name of the band sounds more like “Depeche Mud.”
Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the original version of the infamous TV performance. The members of Depeche Mode seem to be singing live over a prerecorded backing track, so there’s at least a smidgen of authenticity to the proceedings. This is also an opportunity to see just how young and fresh-faced the guys from Depeche Mode appeared in the early ’80s. The only visual clues that these guys are rock stars are their slightly longish, frizzy hairdos and their chic-at-the-time skinny ties. Otherwise, they could be any four well-mannered young lads on their way to Sunday service.