After Teasing For Several Years, Cabaret Voltaire Are Back, Back, BACK…Just In Time For The Real ‘Crackdown’

cabaret voltaire - shadow of fear double album purple vinyl

Mute Records | UK | 2xLP [purple] | 2020 | CABS30

There were few bands I was more avidly buying every one of their many releases in the early to mid 80s than Cabaret Voltaire. When all bands around me were decaying, Cabaret Voltaire only moved from strength to strength. Their ’83-’87 period of badass industrial cut-up funk was peerless to my years. Of course, they eventually found their Waterloo in their ill-advised House album, “Groovy, Laidback + Nasty.” A record so tame that a friend gave me her copy only for me to give it back. After all, it was only fair that she get the trade-in value for it!

cabaret voltaire body + soul civer artFollowing that album, I stayed on the bus long enough for their 1991 effort, “Body + Soul,” but it was barely working for me. The balance in the band saw Stephen Mallinder retreating from vocals and I can’t remember any of his bass on this one. The music was chilled out computer electronica. The next year I bought their “Technology” and “Plasticity” albums only to find them desolate, barren albums full of bloodless minimal techno. Neither stayed very long in the Record Cell.

In the new century, I have seen their catalog feted with many releases, and I soaked up all of he ones that saw substantial amounts of previously unreleased material from their imperial period finally reaching our ears decades later. About six years ago, I noted that Richard H. Kirk, alone, had re-emerged with the Cabaret Voltaire name while Stephen Mallinder was busy in academia. Kirk had mentioned that he wanted to release new Cabaret Voltaire music under that name again and had begun to play live sets at various events. Naturally, he was resistant to nostalgia, and never played any old material; preferring to forge new paths under the brand that were all about the now, as he saw it.

<insert 6 year gap…>

cabaret voltaire - shadow of fear cover art

Mute Records: | UK | CD | 2020 | CABS30CD

Cabaret Voltaire: Shadow Of Fear – UK – CD [2020]

  1. Be Free
  2. The Power [Of Their Knowledge]
  3. Night Of The Jackal
  4. Microscopic Flesh Fragment
  5. Papa Nine Zero Delta United
  6. Universal Energy
  7. Vasto
  8. What’s Goin’ On

I have sampled the pre-release track “Vesto,” and although it was an instrumental with vocal samples; not my absolute favorite thing, it was also a far cry from the dry, and bloodless techno that I didn’t respond to in the 90s. The cut featured an hissing steam rhythm that was inhuman and relentless; speaking well for the cultivated sense of paranoia of Kirk’s that had served Cabaret Voltaire so well. Another factor that made this sound more inviting, perhaps, was down to Kirk having a computer failure which led him to using the old tech in his Western Works studio. That couldn’t have hurt any! The cut had a pounding menace that was less funky than the CV of old, but still with that all important sense of paranoia hard-wired into the DNA of the music.

“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.” – Richard H. Kirk

With the sewage tornado that is 2020 getting worse by the day, Kirk may have arrived just in the nick of time to unleash the patented BS detector of CabVolt on the modern environment that utilizes systems of control beyond the dreams of any 20th century dictator. “Vesto” sounded tough and intriguing enough for me to once again have an interest in getting the new cabaret Voltaire album. Which, as usual, comes in a dizzying array of formats. But all of them have the exact same music, thank goodness!

As shown up front, there’s the conventional 2xLP in purple wax. There’s also a white vinyl edition of 500. For me, there’s a CD, and it being 2020, a cassette is also offered. Along with DL copies that go from 320 MP3 to 24-bit WAV. And various bundles if you have the collector’s sickness. T-shirts in there, too. All at price points I can’t balk at. White vinyl ltd. ed and DLs available here at The album reaches our ears on November 20th, 2020 and can be pre-ordered below [solo or various bundles] from the band’s MusicGlue store. I have to say I’m intrigued. With Stephen Mallinder back and making music with my name on it, it’s good to have Kirk taking the CabVolt name to a compelling place on his own.

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16 Responses to After Teasing For Several Years, Cabaret Voltaire Are Back, Back, BACK…Just In Time For The Real ‘Crackdown’

  1. jsd says:

    I dunno man, I love CV but it’s not really CV with just Kirk involved. The new track doesn’t really change my mind. It sounds just like his solo stuff from the past few decades. Not bad, but mostly background music techno. The stuff Mal has been putting out (Wrangler, Creepshow) sounds much more like what I think of when I think of CV.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      jsd – I agree that Mal has the most CV mojo in his work [and I only have the 1st Wrangler album in house, shamefully] but the last time I heard Kirk was in the 90s and I find this is still miles more interesting than that was. I do admire his insistence on not allowing nostalgia. I wish more musicians had that sort of courage. Similarly, I found I much preferred the Dieter Meier solo album over the last 30 years of Yello where I felt he had been marginalized. Boris Blank on his own will make banging dance music but without the weird x-factor that Meier brought to the mix. Mal had that sort of contribution to CV thought I sort of gather that he was crucial to the group doing a House album in Chicago, so our mileage may vary. I’m interested in hearing more before I decide on the new CV, which is at least encouraging from a name that offered me nothing in the last 30 years.


  2. Gavin says:

    As a lifelong fan of CV,I’m afraid this preview track did nothing for me and I also agree that it is just Kirk,NOT CV-I cannot believe he has been allowed to sell it as such.
    His early , 80s solo stuff was quite good,as was Mal’s but I gave up after “Don’t Argue” which was the last CV thing I bought.I have heard many later recordings,but found them to be lazy filler material.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – So among the CB fans here, I’m the only one who’s cautiously optimistic??!! All the others are negative?? All that therapy is working out, then! Hooray!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Echorich says:

        Yeah, afraid I am firmly in the Mal camp when it comes to where the CB mojo went. Vasto is a fine track, but it feels very Richard H. Kirk. Short antecdote – back around the time they were prepping or working on Code, the boys were in NYC for a couple weeks. They spent a lot of evenings at The Limelight, and I of course knew exactly who they were, made sure they enjoyed their time there and found that Mal was very happy to just sit and chat with friends while RHK was down on the catwalk over the dance floor an awful lot. His post Cabs output has been filled with dancefloor experimentation and this seems to continue in that vein, while certainly having some echoes of CB – just maybe not enough for me.


  3. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,
    Glad you mentioned this. I’ve been waiting for the announcement
    for quite some time.

    I have a very, very long history with this band, and have stuck with them
    from the early 80’s until now, and have no intention of stopping. Along
    with the solo projects, and side projects, almost all of it is essential to me.
    Whether its house, techno, minimal bleeps, alternative, or experimental.

    I look forward to this project, and can’t wait to hear it. Not sure which
    formats I will be getting, but there’s something for everyone.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I’ve only been buying since 1981 but there are swaths of CV that mean nothing to me. I felt this was similar to the 90s material but more grounded and less abstract, so I’m interested in hearing more. If the time for CabVolt to return isn’t now than when is?


  4. slur says:

    Even if RHK has been left as the sole member and has the right to publish as CV I find himself appearing as such still questionable. At first glance I hoped he would have teamed up with Mal for this. I guess this is more a pragmatic decision and a ‘Why Not’ attitude.

    Well anyway, I’ve been following CV and both solo careers constantly through the years and there have been very few let-downs, mostly the transition from ‘Code’, ‘Groovy Laidback’ and the following ‘Body And Soul’ Albums. But in the vast amount of releases by CV and RHK there was an awful lot interesting and enjoyable in different ways so I won’t stop buying them (even if I think the last new Mallinder and related releases where pretty boring).

    A first glance was had some time ago on the Berlin Atonal Compilation 3 (2015) and live and there was nothing to dislike. Of course the use of CV as project name reaches a wider audience than another RHK alias and I would not need a coloured vinyl edition of this, but I’m really pleased to see he did not retire completely as it seemed since “Dasein” from 2017 – a record I found very ‘CV-ish’ by the way and suspected to be the abandoned CV release.


  5. slur says:

    Great news, even if the use of the CV name for this is somehow irritating it’s good to see RHK did not retire completely.
    I followed them through all of their periods (and the solo releases) and besides a weak period starting with ‘Code’ up to ‘Body & Soul’ there where hardly any let-downs so I really look forward to this (even if I don’t need a coloured vinyl edition and t-shirt to go along).


    • postpunkmonk says:

      slur – I felt that “Code” was too “digital/clean” following the “digital/dirty” sound of “The Covenant…” [which is my favorite album by CabVolt] but I soon warmed to “Code” quite a bit in the years after. GL+N? Not at all. “Body + Soul” had ONE TRACK that I felt was a good throwback to the Rough Trade era. This is worth a listen.


      • slur says:

        Yes, Code was an embarrassment right from the point on when Mallinder tried to sing more poppy. My expectations when I found that Adrian Sherwood was producing it had been risen too and sadly it turned out to be one of his smooth commissioned works with only hints of what could have been.
        Groovy Laidback… was such an anti-CV record I really dug the irony after ignoring it for more than 20 years. Even the vocals are worked out accordingly for this. CV reached the end of commercial compromising with this and where never ashamed of it – as the inclusion of mixes, live etc. in the Conform To Deform Box showed.
        Well, after them returning into more independent publishing and the Sweet Exorcist releases I received Body And Soul for reviewing. I really tried getting into it. But the cheap artwork somehow said it all; A distanced, joyless and utterly bleak affair. Toying around with what might have been leftovers from the Bleep sessions. . A certain bleakness was always there but not as pointless executed, utterly bizarre as this sounds like they had to fulfill a contract.
        Well anyway – they found a way out of this getting on track with the Percussion Force and Colours EP’s and I really love the following Albums altogether, each in his own right.


  6. negative1ne says:

    Finished listening to the album. Very good effort from the band. It’s not great, but its solid. Nice long takes on all the usual paranoid, anti-establishment themes. The usual sampling along with beats, and breaks.

    It evokes some memories from the crackdown, yashar, code, and other elements that they use. I think its a nice update, and lives up to the name.

    The only downside is no vocals on it, which would have helped. Still worth check out.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – That about what I was imagining from the “Vasto” track. I’m more willing than most here in the comments to give this a try since I was feeling the thematic core of Cab Volt that you rightly cite in what I had heard. Those paranoid, anti-establishment themes were the essence of CV for me, even if there’s no Mallinder on them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. Monk,

    very sorry to report. but richard k hirk has passed away. i feel very strongly and sad now. he was huge in his field, and very influential. his genius will be missed. i was happy to hear the group coming back. best wishes to his family.



  8. Pingback: Richard H. Kirk: 1956-2021 | Post-Punk Monk

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