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Cabaret Voltaire

Cabaret Voltaire

Artist Biography

Cabaret Voltaire, who alongside Human League, Throbbing Gristle, Fad Gadget and The Normal, were at the forefront of the UK Electronic Movement of the late '70s and are one of the most truly influential and innovative acts of the last twenty five years.

Initially a three piece, Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson began by playing around with recorded sounds manipulated by basic reel-to-reel tape recorders in Sheffield in 1973. Way ahead of their time, these ideas cumulated in 1975, when the three staged their first performance of these sound experiments and assumed the name Cabaret Voltaire, taken from the name of the club started in Zurich by the principals of the Dada art movement during the First World War. As part of the confrontational energy of punk, itself inspired by the Dada and Situationist art movements, the early titles of the records didn’t mince words - ‘Baader Meinhof’ and ‘Do The Mussolini (Headkick)’ were indicators that were bound to lead to a certain notoriety. To the press they appeared to be immersed in a world of paranoia fed by conspiracy theories, political control and the use of drugs to both liberate and inhibit the individual.

The band began working with Rough Trade in 1978, producing a string of brilliant singles and the now seminal triumvirate of albums “Mix Up” (1979), “Voice of America” (1980) and their most prophetic album “Red Mecca” (1981). Cabaret Voltaire’s rare but much anticipated live performances, with their innovative use of film and video, were documented on the three live albums, “Live at the YMCA” (1979), “Live at the Lyceum” (1981) and “HAI” live in Japan (1982), and the 90 minute video “Doublevision presents...” (1982). Chris Watson left the group in October 1981, but Kirk and Mallinder went on to record further great albums throughout the Eighties, having a huge influence on the developing House and Techno scenes in both America and Europe. Cabaret Voltaire were instrumental in defining a strand of popular music which became known as experimental or “industrial”, whose practitioners Cabaret Voltaire moved on to leave far behind them and they continue to be a major inspiration to this day.


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