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Electronic/Dance - Released July 1, 2014 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 30, 2019 | Mute

Industrial pioneers Cabaret Voltaire created the soundtrack to Babeth Mondini's 1979 film Chance Versus Causality after meeting the director at a concert in which the trio shared a bill with Joy Division and William S. Burroughs. However, instead of providing an advance cut of the film so the band could painstakingly compose music to precisely fit each scene, Mondini simply told them to improvise in a similar manner to their concerts. No further guidelines or instructions were given, and the group had no clue what the film was about (in fact, they never saw it). The album essentially lives up to its title, with looped voices, slashing guitar feedback, and dripping drum machines appearing and disappearing seemingly at random, yet there's still at least some semblance of logical progression. The general mood is sinister and foreboding, but also quite whimsical, particularly in the artists' choice of samples, which are often absurd and humorous. The third track features a loop of a woman stating that a 12-foot-long ant held her positively transfixed, while the final track starts out with a bizarre squawking noise that could either be a baby or an animal. It seems obvious that the group was having fun coming up with weird sounds and chucking them in the mix, and it keeps the album amusing and intriguing. Even compared to other Cabaret Voltaire output from this period, this is nothing like their more punk-influenced Rough Trade releases. It's much more in the vein of what Industrial Records would release as 1974-76 (reissued by Mute in 2019, at the same time as this soundtrack) or the early experiments included on Methodology '74/'78: The Attic Tapes. Not a lost classic by any means, but still highly entertaining. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electronic/Dance - Released December 17, 2013 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released May 1, 1982 | Mute

Collecting two separate sessions, one with Chris Watson and one without (the former also with guest drummer Alan Fish of fellow Sheffield experimentalists Hula), 2X45 shows the Cabs now well on their way to the perversely upbeat yet ominous funk of their early-'80s days. A song like "Breathe Deep" may have things like Richard H. Kirk's sax and clarinet lines over the stripped-down polyrhythms of Alan Fish and Stephen Mallinder, yet the way Mallinder husks the vocals and the claustrophobic feel of the recording don't entirely lend themselves to just going ahead and tearing the roof off the sucker. It's a careful balance the Cabs maintain, but it does work more often than not, while the influence on later industrial-affiliated acts is immediately apparent. Watson's work in the band at this point isn't as noticeable as before, but the drop-in samples on "Yashar" of intense voices asking where all the people on earth are hiding give a sense of where he still turns up. The second session, with Nort and Eric Random on drums, guitar, and percussion, is a touch murkier at points but only just. "War of Nerves (T.E.S.)" may start with a tape of a guy talking about tortures involving rats and may have Mallinder's distorted, demonic vocals in full effect, but the crisp rhythm punch is still predominant. "Wait and Shuffle" is even, dare it be said, perkier, with a brisk, reggae-touched drum and bass combination and some sprightly keyboards playing around with the sax wails and further found-sound oddities. The lengthy "Get out of My Face" concludes the session and release on perhaps the quirkiest note yet. Mallinder's cryptic sloganeering peppers things throughout, but it's Kirk's intriguing guitar and the relentless but still somehow fun rhythm push which define the song best of all. ~ Ned Raggett
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Electronic/Dance - Released December 12, 2006 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released December 17, 2013 | Mute

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Rock - Released April 22, 2014 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released December 17, 2013 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released February 19, 2002 | Mute

The Voice of America introduces itself with a Southern policeman delivering instructions to what could be a riot squad. Part of the instructions direct those offering security to a first aid van to obtain earplugs, "so as to keep you from having a headache." A little self-mocking humor? Some thinly veiled advice for the listener, perhaps? Probably both. Like Mix-Up, The Voice of America displays in various ways how noisy, abrasive, and unpleasant an album can be in the oft-used ten-song/40-minute format, providing the nag-nag-nag that Cabaret Voltaire does so well without the drag-drag-drag associated with a lot of electronic experimentalism. Generally speaking, The Voice of America has more of an anchor than Mix-Up with its increased use of rhythm, whether it's from those rickety drum machines or actual drums. The sickly and sometimes demented drones of cacophony are twisted and doctored in new ways and make for more compelling listening. In "News From Nowhere," it sounds as if recordings of dive-bombing war planes have been intertwined and distorted, which is only part of the thrill; there's a dubby rhythm that's equally anemic in the background. "Premonition" is the most antagonistic moment, placing a number of electro-surges behind a deep, growling voice that can only be described as comic doom. On the closing "Messages Received," the structure is similar to that of "Nag Nag Nag," but all the assaultiveness of that song is wiped away and turned into a melancholy number, helped especially by an emotionally drained vocal turn. Not as spectacular as what would follow, and not without its own set of thrills. ~ Andy Kellman
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 30, 1992 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 2, 1990 | Mute

Silent during Britain's acid-house revolution, Cabaret Voltaire returned in 1990 with a clever house crossover album, for which they actually traveled to Chicago and recorded with house producer Marshall Jefferson in an early British-American meeting of the minds. The result is an album more groovy than nasty, as Mallinder's vocals sound much more pop-oriented than before. Despite possessing a somewhat dated feel even soon after its release, the album showed CV's continued contributions to the growing electronic revolution. ~ John Bush
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 7, 1987 | Mute

1987's Code, co-produced by On-U Sound mastermind Adrian Sherwood, finds Cabaret Voltaire at their loosest and most accessible. Though its subject matter remains dark and paranoid, in sound Code is the closest thing CV ever made to a party record. Aided perhaps by Sherwood's rhythmic expertise, it achieved a genuine mechanistic funkiness reminiscent of late-'70s Kraftwerk. That didn't necessarily endear it, of course, to fans of the Cabs' harsher, more challenging material. Many of them dismissed Code as lightweight, but the rest of us can find much to enjoy here. "Sex, Money, Freaks" answers the eternal question, What would it sound like if Roger Troutman of Zapp joined Cabaret Voltaire? "Trouble (Won't Stop)" dips one toe into the blues, with harmonica making a surprising appearance and Bill Nelson providing atmospheric guitar. Code's most memorable song, though, is "Here to Go," a hook-laden and bass-heavy concoction that offers the paradoxical advice, "Sharpen up, relax/ Lighten up, get serious/ Stick with it, sit back/ Live with it, commit yourself." ~ Bill Cassel
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Electronic/Dance - Released December 16, 2013 | Mute

One major component in an in-depth series of remastered releases overseen by founding member Richard H. Kirk, #8385 Collected Works 1983-1985 contains a core of The Crackdown, Micro-Phonies, Drinking Gasoline, and The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. An additional disc compiles crucial 12" versions -- the format that allowed this era of CV to truly thrive -- while another features unreleased material recorded during the same period. A pair of DVDs documents two 1984 gigs, recirculates the experimental film Gasoline in Your Eye (previously available on VHS only), and four videos. All the discs are standard foldout sleeves with individual artwork. There's a substantial book, 40 pages in length and heavy on images, with notes from Kirk and an essay from CV sleeve artist Phil Barnes. Around the time of the release of this box -- available in CD and vinyl-with-CD editions -- the studio albums were also reissued separately. For serious listeners not content with the original vinyl and/or CD pressings, this excellent and thorough package is essential. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electronic/Dance - Released November 15, 2011 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released December 12, 2008 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released February 19, 2002 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released February 16, 2010 | Mute

It's true that Cabaret Voltaire's first two proper studio albums hardly match the greatness of later works like Red Mecca, 2 X 45, and even 3 Crepuscule Tracks. Despite this, both Mix-Up and The Voice of America -- rather similar records that were released back to back in 1979 and 1980 -- only helped solidify Cabaret Voltaire's status as an integral part of the extended frisson of 1978-1982 post-punk, so if they had ceased to exist before their best work, it would still be very correct to refer to them as "important." ("Yes, important, but were they any good?") Mix-Up, their first album, impressively harnesses noise, primitive rhythm box percolations, tape loops, garbled vocals, and blasts of Farfisa. "Kirlian Photograph" is an ugly slab of dub with frizzling snaps of white-heat buzz, clunky percussion, and a plodding bassline forming its skanking, roiling rhythm. Both the bass and incidental vocals are relegated to the back of the mix as the piercing detritus takes center stage. A cover of the Seeds' "No Escape" evidences Cabaret Voltaire's paradox as a seemingly anti-rockist band who -- at their heart (for the first several years, at least) -- was a garage band. For all the manual binning and sandblasting of rock's elemental properties, the band could take an acid-damaged rock song like "No Escape" and make it sound even more damaged while retaining its spirit, nerve, and structure. The remainder of the album hisses and hectors in a similar fashion, tidily bundling pop-song length pieces that will do nothing for that headache of yours. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electronic/Dance - Released May 1, 1980 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released May 29, 1990 | Mute

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Electronic/Dance - Released March 1, 2004 | Mute