The legendary Cabaret Voltaire have just announced their first new studio album in over 26 years. Mute Records are thrilled to release ‘Shadow Of Fear’ on November 20th.
Sheffield’s Cabaret Voltaire were originally active between 1973-1994. Creating a challenging sound of electronics, dub, found sounds, Dadaist absurdity and punk, their sonics were hugely influential on the creation of industrial, house and techno. They were lightyears ahead of their time and classify as one of the most influential groups in the history of industrial and electronic music.
Their 2014 performance at Berlin’s Atonal festival was the start of a new era for the pioneering Sheffield outfit. Whilst most artists may take the conventional route and write material to be able to tour, Kirk took the unique approach and began to form a new album plucked from a series of pulverising live shows. Shadow Of Fear is Cabaret Voltaire’s first release with Richard H Kirk as the sole member of the band and the result is an album that defies categorisation. The tone and personality of Cabaret Voltaire is ingrained into its core as it dances across techno, dub, house, 1970s Kosmische, and general esoteric explorations coupled with mangled vocal samples. It’s a voyage through the history of electronic music that arrives at a new destination.
Cabaret Voltaire has always been a group ahead of their time, even prescient at times, and this album carries on that evolution. “The album was finished just as all the weirdness was starting to kick in,” Kirk says. “Shadow Of Fear feels like a strangely appropriate title. The current situation didn’t have much of an influence on what I was doing – all the vocal content was already in place before the panic set in – but maybe due to my nature of being a bit paranoid there are hints in there about stuff going a bit weird and capturing the current state of affairs.” Although, as with a lot of Kirk’s work, concrete meaning and narrative is ripe for interpretation rather than being spelled out. “Surrealism has always been really important to Cabaret Voltaire,” says Kirk. “And that’s still present too.”
The genesis of the new album was the 2014 Berlin Atonal festival where Kirk played the first show on his own as Cabaret Voltaire. This began a new era for the pioneering Sheffield outfit whose influence across electronic, post-punk and industrial music remains an untouchable one today. Kirk explains “The mission statement from the off was no nostalgia. Normal rules do not apply. Something for the 21st Century. No old material.”
Kirk has since gone on to perform at festivals and concerts across Europe, shaping the sound of Cabaret Voltaire’s future. “I started developing tracks specifically for live performance,” he says. “Stuff that was quite stripped back and crude. Every time I would visit a new place to perform, I would write something fresh.”
Recorded at the latest location of Western Works, the studio used throughout Cabaret Voltaire’s history, Kirk toyed with upgrading his old set up to digital but after a computer failure he decided to retain his original equipment. “Making this album reminded me a bit of the old days with Cabaret Voltaire because there wasn’t that much equipment, so you really had to use your imagination.”
That’s as far as the comparisons to olden days Cabaret Voltaire go. This is new music for a new era. “It’s nice that people appreciate what you’ve done in the past,” says Kirk. “But it’s a dangerous place to dwell.”
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