Cabaret Voltaire – 2X45 – 2LP – Rough Trade 1982
Cabaret Voltaire was formed in the early 70’s in Sheffield, England. They were named after “The Cabaret Voltaire”, a nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland, circa WWI. The group comprised of Stephen Mallinder, Richard H. Kirk and Chris Watson. Their early work involved a lot of performance art and experimentation with tape machines & other avant-garde sounds which helped pioneer the creation of the “Industrial” music genre alongside acts like Throbbing Gristle and Einsturzende Neubauten. By the mid-80s, their music became more commercially successful blending their industrial roots with synth-pop & techno, however “2X45” is one of their last projects on Rough Trade (circa 1982) and clearly exhibits the bands allure to being one of the most influential industrial electronic bands ever.
“2 x 45” is the bands 4th studio album & was originally released on two 45 RPM 12″ records hence the title. Heavy with post punk and electronic influences, Cabaret Voltaire create a world of sound that is disorienting and complex, but groovy at the same time. Layers of synth sounds and tape samples float over steady drums and rhythmic melodies. “Breathe Deep”, the opening track, sounds like a cross between !!! & LCD Soundsystem. “Yashar” features a sample from 60’s American sci-fi TV show “The Outer Limits” from the episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”. The sample- “There’s 70 billion people of Earth; where are they hiding?” loops in and out of the track over eerie Middle-Eastern sounding synths and hypnotic drums. Richard H. Kirk’s sax playing is at the forefront of “Protection”- a spaced out trip with swirly sax and spacey sounding synths. Steven Mallinders voice sounds like Cevin Key (of Skinny Puppy) layered with lots of reverb and effects here. “War Of Nerves (T.E.S.)” and “Wait And Shuffle” sound like the dub-tinged post punk of P.I.L. without the high-pitched vocals of front man John Lydon. The last track, “Get Out Of My Face”, is a 13 minute-long opus that seems to take elements of all previous tracks and melds it into one long trip. A perfect way to end this album.
All of Cabaret Voltaire’s members are still active today. Richard H. Kirk put an album out earlier this year. Kirk, who has released material under dozens of aliases over the years (most notably as part of influential techno act “Sweet Exorcist”, who were named after Curtis Mayfield’s album of the same name) is definitely the most decorated of the trio. Chris Watson has worked with notable experimental electronic musicians like Pan Sonic & Fennesz. Stephen Mallinder is currently working with Steve Cobby, one half of Fila Brazilia.