Cabaret Voltaire – #7885 (Electropunk to Technopop 1978-1985) (Mute)
Experimental electro legends Cabaret Voltaire release a new compilation. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
As the story goes, if as many people were at the 150 capacity Manchester Free Trade Hall in June 1976 for a certain Sex Pistols gig as say they were, there would have been around 4,000 attendees. Similarly, if all the people that claimed they have always been huge fans of Cabaret Voltaire had bought their records, then they would have had a string of Number 1 albums to accompany their arena tours.
The year of Voltaire digital releases continues with an essential retrospective containing tracks from their Rough Trade period of experimental post-punk electro to the Some Bizarre (on Virgin) dance-orientated and similarly experimental years up to 1985.
For anyone wanting a quick introduction to the group, this is the album for you. Opening with their harsh, raw, sometimes difficult to listen electro punk efforts such as Do The Mussolini and the incredible Nag Nag Nag, the then trio broke down and created new boundaries in music as the likes of Human League and Daniel Miller’s The Normal watched on in awe and envy. Combining the punk attitude with electronics was undoubtedly ground breaking and the steel walls of Sheffield were soon knocked down.
As Kneel To The Boss and Landslide could well have been influences on The The’s classic Soul Mining album, any other track on this collection could have been the catalyst for any artist since. Inserting sound bytes before anyone else had even contemplated the idea, another Voltaire trademark became common place in the years to follow.
The ‘other’ side to the group came after the early 80s departure of Chris Watson which left the duo of Kirk Mallinder and Richard H Kirk (now the sole member) to continue as a more dance/funk/house outfit but still with that anarchic ethos born in the previous decade.
For the first time on CD the 7” versions of some of their later releases are present. From the throbbing bass of Just Fascination to the unique sound of Crackdown, from the rolling drumbeats of Sensoria and Kino to the amazing I Want You which still sounds as fresh today as when it was recorded. Ending with the perverted sexual overtones of Warm this is a superb line up of tracks from one of the most influential groups of the last 40 years who were so ahead of their time it’s almost untrue.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.