For the best part of their first 19 years pre-reunion, pioneering Sheffield industrialist outfit Cabaret Voltaire was the shared endeavour of Stephen Mallinder, Richard Kirk and Chris Watson. As the years passed, and the project became the sole output of Kirk, co-founding member Mallinder came into his own as an innovator of UK post-punk’s musical tendrils — electro, EBM, acid, techno — shrouding himself behind myriad aliases. Um Dada signals his first named solo outing since 1983’s Pow-Wow, and sees Mallinder brandishing his immense influence like a great trophy, pulling off bold moves and down-to-business techno like he was born to do it.
Um Dada was very much worth the wait. What we have here is a set of curious almost-techno songs that are robotic but not unfriendly. Mallinder frequently manipulates his voice until it has the same tone as the singer in Mylo’s ‘Drop The Pressure’, and on cuts like ‘Working (You Are)’ and ‘Satellite’ his cyborg chants are paired off with crisp minimal drum programming and warm basslines. The early work of Hot Chip and Cut Copy, as well as the more welcoming end of Matmos’ output, is recalled by Um Dada. Let’s hope that we’re not waiting another 37 years for the next one.