Cabaret Voltaire
November 1, 2011 4:00 AM   Subscribe

"Red Mecca" is their best work.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:42 AM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm a huge Cabs fan - but when I hear stuff like this I'm still blown away at how ahead of their time they were. Thanks!

As a side note, Richard H Kirk (1/2 of the duo) has made some incredible music under a number of monikers - Sandoz, Electric Eye, etc. Kirk is one of the very few "electronic" artists who has a style I instantly recognize and never get tired of.
posted by entire_owl at 4:43 AM on November 1, 2011

Whenever I hear them I'm instantly back in high school driving down to Tijuana at midnight... So great.
posted by Huck500 at 5:07 AM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Lovely! Definitely the best driving music ever. Great tracks.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:33 AM on November 1, 2011

I used to regularly drop Shakedown (Dub) into techno/electro DJ sets. Love the mix of dub, industrial, and electro all interweaving so effortlessly.. CV were great at getting really far-out experimental, but without ever losing the underlying accessible grooves that you can instantly get into.
posted by p3t3 at 5:41 AM on November 1, 2011

Nag Nag Nag
posted by peterkins at 6:10 AM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

and of course, the Cabs were not initially a duo - their third member was the great Chris Watson.
posted by peterkins at 6:11 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't hear Cabaret Voltaire without thinking of Medusa’s in Chicago in the 80's or Snub-TV (which I think I saw via Night Flight).

My fave from the Cabs is Kino - which will now be running through my head all morning.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:39 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Damn, I forgot about "I Want You" - a song I put on way too many mix tapes. It's definitely going to be a Cabaret morning at the Slack house this morning.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:43 AM on November 1, 2011

I was a DJ back in the day when Cab-Volt (as we called them) were on the ascendancy. They became sort of the poster boys for what one of my fellows called the "diminishing returns" syndrome. That is, the better they learned to play their instruments (and figure out their technology), the worse they got. The early stuff was all noise, hard edges, angst (Nag Nag Nag) or just plain experimental... but that sadly gave way to polish (for lack of a better word), conspicuous hair and stiletto-heeled rock vids (Just Fascination) and all the cliches that came to define the 80s.

Anyway, thanks, twoleftfeet, for focusing mostly only the early stuff.
posted by philip-random at 7:50 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

They became sort of the poster boys for what one of my fellows called the "diminishing returns" syndrome.

Oh, yeah. The Cabs were at their best when they didn't know they were doing. I find anything after the likes of Red Mecca or 2X45 to have a layer of forced competency that negated that rawness that made them interesting to me.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2011

Later-period Cabs videos, from the Gasoline in Your Eye videocassette (my own uploads to YT): posted by neckro23 at 8:16 AM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Faster: The YouTube Playlist
posted by mrgrimm at 8:33 AM on November 1, 2011

Vocalist Stephen Mallinder recently earned a PhD; this week sees the re-release of a CD recorded as part of Ku-Ling Bros. whilst living in Australia a decade or so ago.

Richard H. Kirk just remixed the soundtrack for a "reimagining" of the short film Johnny Yesno, which was originally released in 1983. He's been doing a number of remixes recently under the Cabaret Voltaire name, of which he now seems to be the sole owner.

I'd argue that Kirk hit his musical peak as a solo artist in the mid-90s; Virtual State is a superb 1994 release and a great introduction to his work. Also worthy of checking out: Closed Circuit (recorded as Electronic Eye) and One Million and Three (as Al Jabr). That said, ask any Kirk fan to name his best work and you'll get a bazillion different answers, I'm sure.
posted by bassomatic at 8:38 AM on November 1, 2011

Cabs Cabs....

Red Mecca is great in an intense noodling way that's good for thinking if I remember correctly, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord is a Tour De Force that's the template for every good techno/industrial band that came out after 1985, A little dated sounding due to the equipment/sequencing of the time, but still, pretty excellent (Here's I Want You. I dare you not to hear, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Early Ministry, Dead or Alive, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, Practically everything Wax Trax put out in the early/mid-90s in that). Of course perhaps they were influenced by New Order's Blue Monday...

And Yashar has one of my favorite evil voice loops of all time (which I think is from one of the Planet of the Apes, films not sure):

-There's 70 billion people on the earth


posted by Skygazer at 11:07 AM on November 1, 2011

Check that: They were definitely influenced by Blue Monday/The Beach and the rest of the sequency-Midi stuff New Order (Everything's Gone Green, the Low Life Stuff) was doing in the early 80s.
posted by Skygazer at 11:15 AM on November 1, 2011

Skygazer: The Yashar clip comes from Demon with a Glass Hand, an episode of The Outer Limits. A much longer sampling from the show appears on Soulenoid (Scream at the Right Time), a track on the 1992 Cabs release Plasticity.
posted by bassomatic at 11:42 AM on November 1, 2011

Yes, that's right! Thanks for that, I remember hearing that line and having a Eureka moment years ago...I'm getting the POTA quotes possibly mixed up with another song.

Thanks for that.
posted by Skygazer at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2011

Takes me back to Bar Two and NowSoc...
posted by fallingbadgers at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2011

> They became sort of the poster boys for what one of my fellows called the "diminishing returns" syndrome.

man i would totally disagree. the cabs had(have) three distinct phases in their history--the early stuff which was more noise oriented, the middle when they were pretty much a techno/electronic band, and the third phase when they did house.

i mean it's kind of hard to see where a band that put out something like 'your agent man' with something like 'brutal but clean.' yeah maybe 'project 80' might be an example of noise late in their career but it is a little different.

hard to say which one i liked best. not a big fan of the early stuff but it has it's moments, especially voice of america. during the middle phase it's hard to decide between the covenant et. al. and code, the album produced with adrian sherwood. the conversation is a great example of their latter work, though it's sometimes hard to call it house.
posted by lester at 8:08 PM on November 1, 2011

"diminishing returns"

This is true of all EBM/Industrial, really. I think it has less to do with learning to play instruments as the shift from A) wonky analog synthesis and tape loops to B) sterile, locked-down MIDI-sequenced rhythms, digitally sampled drums (I'm looking at you, Kawai R-100 snare sound!), and digital synthesis.

In other words, it was the eighties.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:54 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

(And, yeah, 2x45 FTW.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:56 PM on November 1, 2011

In other words, it was the eighties.

decade of diminishing returns ... until hip-hop kicked in with full-force around '87, whenever Public Enemy's A Nation Of Millions hit.
posted by philip-random at 12:00 AM on November 2, 2011

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