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on 1 March 2005
As a punk this music sounded fresh, mechanical and maniacal. At the time I didn't see this as an early dance trend but something growing out of the non-commercial extremes of the music of the time. No one called it industrialist then.
With hind-sight you can see the roots of much of the dreadful trance and other such crap that was to come.
But this is not that crap.
This album is full of what was then new ideas. Nag Nag Nag sounds as good today as it did when first released, as does No Escape. These are classics.
If you want a good intro to CV, buy this album.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 27 March 2005
Formed in the early 70s and influenced by Burroughs, Dada, Dub and 'Ziggy Stardust', Cabaret Voltaire (Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder & Chris Watson) were electronic-pionners from Sheffield and deserve to be ranked alongside such forward-thinking pioneers as Suicide & Throbbing Gristle. This compilation takes in their early years as a three-piece and the records they released on Factory and Rough Trade; it can be seen as an update/replacement for previous compilation 'The Living Legends.' Some people prefer the early compilation- the absence of their cover of The Velvets' 'Here She Comes Now' seems a tragic-ommission...
The Cabs took an approach toward their music heavily influenced by culture: Ballard-Bunuel-Anger-Roxy-Ziggy-Perry-Coltrane-Cage-Sun Ra-James Brown-Burroughs-Gysin-Clinton-Neu!-The Beach Boys-Northern Soul-Miles Davis-Warhol-Velvets-Eno-Popol Vuh etc. They were electronic before many of their peers who now get the credit (notably Depeche Mode and New Order). This compilation takes in their electronic-experimental sound, which sometimes slips into mutant-pop, & provides a companion to the 80s-volume of 'The Original Sound of Sheffield' (more pop than mutant) & the 'Conform to Deform' box-set.
The early songs here are sometimes not songs- 'Do the Mussolini (Headkick)'& 'The Set Up' stem from the 'Extended Play' release on Rough Trade and showcase a collision of cut-up techniques and dub. The Factory-release 'Baader Meinhof' samples German words on the notorious terrorist-collective (the sleevenotes have a picture of them)& sounds like the missing link between Silver Apples' 'Program' & Eno/Byrne's 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.' Robo-voices and electro-jazz-hail dirge along and it's clear that Throbbing Gristle were not alone...
Things become more tuneful with SF-surf classic 'Nag Nag Nag', which is like Jan & Dean meets Suicide and remains a hypnotic joy of its era and one to file next to 'Being Boiled', 'Warm Leatherette', 'Ghost Rider' & 'Hot on the Heels of Love.' 'Silent Command' (recently found on a free compilation with Mojo-magazine) continues the samples of foreign-voices, but displays an influence apparent from Lee Perry's 'Dub-Triptych', as well as a cleaner-techno sound & scraping-guitars (there's even a brief sample of the terrifying 'We Hate You (Little Girls)' by Throbbing Gristle!). Mallinder's vocals are messed with, Brion Gysin's 'Arkology' approach?...'No Escape' reminds me a lot of Joy Division- or should that be the other way around?- Mallinder's vocal delivery is very Ian Curtis here (could be a Northern-thing...).
1980's 'Voice of America' took the band to alien-climes, 'This is Entertainment' & 'Obssession' becoming more dub-orientated; meanwhile ethnic (what might be called 'world music') inflections were appearing in the music- the apex of this being the epic 'Yashar'-single from 1982, which makes sense alongside those Jah Wobble collaborations with Czuckay & Liebzeit, and 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts', & 'Journey Through a Body' & 'Big Science' etc...
'The Original Sound of Sheffield 1978/1982' is a pretty much definitive primer in Cabaret Voltaire's early sound (after the 'Methodology' compilation of their very early work). I think it stands the test of time and easily ranks up there with the electronic-pionners of the 1970s: Kraftwerk, Neu!, Can, Moroder, TG, Suicide, Popol Vuh, Eno, Bowie, Cluster et al.
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Alien sounds, the machine rhythms echoing from the caverns of the old industrial warehouses of 60's Sheffield. Cabaret Voltaire marked the shift from welding sparks to shopping malls as the steelworks became Meadowhall.

In the 60's machine work was deafening noise mired in filth, black smoke and the smell of tar, now replaced with mid range far eastern made sports clothes.

Cabaret Voltaire encapsulated early proto 60's memories. Railways, coal, steel and black chimneys spun kinetic energy. By the 80's it had all ground to a standstill. Any Man Who Fell to Earth could land in Sheffield and feel at home, an arid desolate blackened wasteland. The Cabs produced the bleeps and squiggles speading through the atmosphere moulding them into primal beats and rhythms from bedrooms amongst this debris.

A vanguard of change dealing with anger and isolation. Introspective sounds changing the tempo of the city. After the punch in the face, Sheffield hit the canvas. The Cabs helped it to is collective feet. "Do the Mussolini Headkick", bashed, beaten and waterboarded in a secret cavern in Switzerland. Tristan Tzara proclaiming the ethos of Black Shirted Farinacci to all; the cosh and the castor oil.

"Baader Meinhof" kidnaps the close caustrophobia of the late 70's. Whilst the Clash shook their fists and proclaimed the outward revolution, the Cabs searched inside for meaning. "Nag Nag Nag", the early signature tune, BBC Radiophonics workshop over run by Cybermen relaying their brutal manifesto via the Short Wave dial. "Seconds Too Late", eerie frequencies emanating from a malevolent moon somewhere out there in the cosmos. Dark Matter; the early period marked the intense personal journeys and forays into another time and space.

Eschewing dance and rock, this was an attempt to create the Year Zero, the purity of new sounds, drawing from a Dada manifesto. It is worth travelling back in time to feel the alienation of the 70's. As the 90's euphoric rush has ended, the 21st century is now heralding new recessive growth restraints. New music has little left to explore, perhaps the psychological map has been defined.

This is the music for reflection when confidence in future consumption wanes.
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Taking their name from a nightlcub and Dada-ist hangout, the Cabs were relentlessly experimental. It is disputable whether they were hugely influential, ahead of their time, or just perversely opposed to the music of their era. These are not so much songs, as relentless urban soundscapes, inhabited by snatches of found audio, inaudible or cryptic lyrics, sound treatments and synthesiser noises. The group consisted of Chris Watson, Richard H. Kirk, and the man with the coolest name in music, Stephen Mallinder. They were initially even more experimental, and after this produced more obviously commercial proto dance music. Stephen recently completed a PhD and is teaching at University of Brighton.

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In the year 2019, the year that Blade Runner was originally set, Ridley Scott will return to the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles. He previously used the building in Blade Runner, and this time he will use it as the principle set for a remake of the Outer Limits script, "the Demon with a Glass Hand", by Harlan Ellison. The original "Demon with a Glass Hand" featured Robert Culp as the quarry of the mysterious Kyben. He took orders from his glass hand, and sought to make it whole by finding the missing digits. The entire soundtrack will consist of remixed versions of the Cabaret Voltaire track Yashar.

zzzzzZzzZZZz There's 70 billion people on Earth; where are they hiding? zzzzzZzzZZZz

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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2002
Following on from last year’s Original Sound ‘82-6 this compilation delves further back into the CV catalogue. Their ‘electronik musik’ set a pattern for much dance/industrial to come, and one can see the influence they had on the current ‘electro-clash’ scene. That’s not to say they were completely unique or original – at times they sound much like Suicide, Killing Joke, PiL etc. Nevertheless CV’s influence remains important today.
The early material here is often really post-punk, done with keyboards and synths. ‘Do The Mussolini Headkick’ is an impressive opener, and ‘hit’ single ‘Nag Nag Nag’ is droning, repetitive and still very good. Listened to individually, tracks such as (the largely instrumental) ‘Yashar’ are certainly good-to-ok, but as a whole the album does blend into one. That’s not too bad, and at least you get 65 minutes of the best of CV from this period for your money. Personally though, I prefer the slightly more commercial edge of 1984’s Microphonies (‘Do Right’, ‘Sensoria’). This sounds rather dated, but in fairness it’s 20 years old. A worthwhile introduction to this period, but not the best.
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on 27 December 2015
Brilliant album I'd forgotten just how good they were
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on 29 October 2013
I guess the rather odd noises are relatively inoffensive. But not particularly music, let alone *good* music. Great for qualifying as a hipster though.
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