Friday, 22 November 2013

Music - Part 146 - Cabaret Voltaire

Cabaret Voltaire - #8385 (Collected Works 1983-1985) (Mute)
Out Now

Pioneers of British electronic music, Cabaret Voltaire, are given the box set treatment.

A six cd, four LP, 2 DVD with 40 page 12” booklet containing the mid-period Cabaret Voltaire releases is the stuff that dreams are made of.  It’s here.  There is a God.  With cd versions of 1985’s ‘The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord’ only available for £40+, this is a very welcome package.

In the late 70s, Voltaire were well ahead of their time with their often experimental mix of techno, dance and dub.  Possibly too far ahead of their time to be accepted.  Their crashing beats, screeching synths and repeated loops were a trademark and their influence was widespread and still is to this day.

Celebrating thirty years since its release, ‘The Crackdown’ is a weird trip into electronic experimentation.  From the jazz skip of ‘Moscow’ through to the near post punk/electro funk sound of ’24-24’ the album and its accompanying EP were ground-breaking to say the least.  Yes, some of it sounds dated given the sounds and technology now available, but a rap on a British release in 1983 was pretty unique, and that was Voltaire’s strongpoint.  Always ahead of the crowd, always fresh an exciting.

1984 album, ‘Micro-Phonies’ was certainly a triumph and made folk sit up and listen.  Opener ‘Do Right’ had the sound that would come in later works (and their nearly hits ‘Here To Go’ and ‘Don’t Argue’), and tracks like ‘James Brown’ and ‘Sensoria’ which helped to mould their reputation which undoubtedly came before them.

Four trademark extended tracks appear on the semi-legendary ‘Drinking Gasoline’.  The funky Cabaret Voltaire now in full swing with soundbytes before they were ever so fashionable.  ‘Big Funk’ can do nothing but make you sit up and want to move in your seat.  ‘Ghost Talk’, ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘Kino’ complete this mini album with the latter being an extraordinary track even to this day.

If, like me, you’ve always treasured your cassette copy of ‘The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord’ wishing that one day it would be available on cd for an affordable price, then you’ll be a very happy man.  An album of sheer bliss, power, aggression, danceability, experimentation and originality.  From the opening of ‘The Web’ the album makes an instant impression.  In many people’s eyes, their finest moment.  The fine funky bass on ‘Golden Halo’ and the fragmented pounding drumbeat of ‘Hells Home’ are shining beacons.  The album highlight, ‘I Want You’ still sounds superb after almost twenty years.

Combined with DVDs in the shape of ‘Live’ with two performances from 1984, and ‘Gasoline In Your Eye’ available digitally for the first time, and an additional cd of unreleased tracks and mixes, ‘#8385’ is a superb collection for a band that should really be on everyone’s radar.  Undoubtedly, one of the most influential acts of the last 35 years.



Published on Louder Than War 21/11/13 – here

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