21 March 2018

Erasure + Echo Collective - World Beyond

World Beyond is the second album that's been by Erasure released in the last twelve months, but this time it’s different to their usual electro-pop exuberance.  World Beyond is chamber-music versions of the tracks on World Be Gone, deconstructed and reformed into new songs with the Echo Collective.  It’s a current trend for bands to attempt this with their records, but it’s interesting to see Erasure trying this sort of project at this stage of their career.  It shows that they are still wanting to explore their own sound, which can only be seen as a good thing.  Unlike their live record On the Road to Nashville, this is not a greatest hits album.  This is a direct song for song cover of the original album (apart from tracks 1 & 8 swapping places), so it begs two questions to be honest.  Is this for anyone but Erasure fans and is it just for completist fans?

01 – Oh What A World

“Oh What A World” is only one of two songs that have changed order on this album, with “Love You to the Sky”.  The first thing that got my attention is the difference between each version of this song.  The change between this and the original is stark, the first version was an industrial influenced song, more Throbbing Gristle than anything Erasure has released in a while.  This version of “Oh What A World” is transformed into an avant-garde number, with delicate passages and low cello rumbling that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end.  I love the contrast between the two versions,

02 – Be Careful What You Wish For!

“Be Careful What You Wish For!” has undergone a massive transformation on this album, whilst still essentially sounding the same.  The music is better suited to the string quartet formation, it gives this pissed off ballad a stronger presence and elevates it massively in my opinion.  The more I have listened to this song, the further under its spell I have fallen.  “Be Careful What You Wish For!” is a perfect example of this album working, whilst also surpassing its World Be Gone replicant.

03 – World Be Gone

The title track of the original album has been changed into a mournful ballad, one which will be perfect for those dark days where the heartache is at its most acute.  The change to this format is so subtle, but it works so well in the format.  Another song that benefits from the change in format.

04 – A Bitter Parting

“A Bitter Parting” is a song I was not too sure about on World Be Gone, sadly this hasn’t changed with the version on World Beyond.  It’s not a bad song, but it’s not a good one either.  Both versions of the song seem to feel listless, lacking a tiny bit of direction and feeling a little forced.  So, time to skip to the next track.

05 – Still It’s Not Over

“Still It’s Not Over” is essentially a direct cover of its original, without that much variation from the source material.  Whilst there is nothing work with this version, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original, which makes it a very slightly inferior version.  But it’s still an interesting take on their own material, you’ve got to give Erasure credit for the attempt.

06 – Take Me Out of Myself

“Take Me Out of Myself” is another song which has little to no variation from the original, if anything there is a sense of emptiness to this one.  The original had the quirky electronica noise, whilst this version is just a little too clean, a little too clinical.  But once again, you have to give props to Erasure for attempting this.

07 – Sweet Summer Loving

“Sweet Summer Loving” is a song which benefits from the change here.  The original felt a little jaded in places musically, the chorus was a little tight and conflicting.  On here with the open strings and alternative percussion, it has a new lease of life and the change cannot be understated.

08 – Love You to The Sky

“Love You to The Sky” was the opening track of World Be Gone, but has been relegated to the 8th track of World Beyond.  For the most part, it’s an interesting version, the music is slowed down and it has a different energy and progression to the original.  The chorus here suffers from the lack of electronica, the repeated words merging well with the new music.  But then they change the ending, which has been reimagined as a long and drawn out piece of music, but they could not amend the lynchpin of the song?  It is almost there, but I still find “Love You to The Sky” to be a delightful number, one which I doth my cap to Erasure for trying something different.

09 – Lousy Sum of Nothing

Now, here is something similar, but different at the same time. “Lousy Sum of Nothing” was nice enough in its original form, but there’s better track on the World Be Gone.  But this version on World Beyond, it’s been transformed into a brooding piece that makes the heart stop.  It just a few subtle changes in vocals and the way the sound is performed, and it’s now my favourite track of this album.  This is the sort of number that this experiment is perfect for, it’s giving a song a new lease of life and the results are glorious.

10 – Just A Little Love

“Just A Little Love” ends World Beyond as it did with World Be Gone.  The original was a beautiful little dancefloor number, one that works incredibly well in the live environment.  This version (if I’m honest) is held back by the nature of World Beyond, it’s a sombre number in comparison to its joyful brother.  But it still manages to make me smile, just for its message alone which is a positive way to end this album.

World Beyond is an album needs to be viewed both separately from its original work and as a natural extension at the same time.  It’s a little weird to think of this record in that way but let me explain.  On its own, the results are mixed, to say the least.  It sometimes heads down the wrong path, going down cul-de-sacs of strange noise and it’s an exercise in “right idea, wrong time”.  This has been created for its own purpose and nothing more, it could have been used for some of their earlier deeper cuts. However, when they get it right on this album, it sounds as if this was the album that was meant to be released last year.  Inevitable, this will be looked at as a companion piece to World Be Gone, and this is where it flourishes into something beautiful.  Erasure with the Echo Collective have reinterpreted their own works of art and created two distinct versions of each song which for the most part, co-existing within each other and fully independent of their twin as well.  This might be an album for the completists in some ways, but I would recommend this for all Erasure fans.  I’m also wondering if this will prime their audience for a change, to see the band step into another role as well as the band of your childhood.  But that’s a question for the future.  I think that this could bring them some new fans, but it is a record for the faithful for the most part.  Because of its dual role, I’ll be giving this album two marks.  One that looks at World Beyond and World Be Gone as one project, one as an album on its own. In summation, World Beyond is an interesting take on their latest album, which sheds new light on their work and is a bold move.  It’s great to see them taking risks in 2018, let’s see where they go from here.

World Beyond an album in its own right – 6 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.

World Beyond a companion piece to a bigger project with World Be Gone – 8 out of ten
- Now, you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track – Lousy Sum of Nothing

You can purchase World Beyond on Amazon here.

You can visit the Erasure website here.

You can visit the Erasure Facebook page here.

You can stream World Beyond on Spotify here.

You can stream World Beyond on Deezer here.

You can stream World Beyond on Tidal here.

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