Shadows Of Funk : Cabaret Voltaire Now & Here and Everywhere

2020 was also the return of a mighty shade from the Past; Richard H. Kirk’s Cabaret Voltaire Album on Mute did stir up the desired wave of attention, raised eyebrows and startled collectors inclusive.

Shadow Of Fear” was simultaneously released as purple double Vinyl album, CD in cardboard wallet, digital files and (gasp) Cassette via long time reissue / archive alley mute. Also a free ltd. 7″ with an Electronic Sound magazine (thankfully not with exclusive tracks only edits) appeared.
This is the first fully worked out CV release after several live appearences from Richard H. Kirk as Cabaret Voltaire starting in 2015 at Berlin Atonal (and two tracks on the accompanying compilation triple 12″). His first reclaim of the groups name for current works where the remix albums “Kora Kora Kora” and “National Service Rewind” for Amrik Rai’s Shiva Records already back in 2009/10, reportedly not being well received by Stephen Mallinder.
So, after an stream of archive, live and studio, remastered and redesigned releases with some excellent results (Johnny YesNo Redux, Drinking Gasoline, Live From London, Chance Vs. Causality) there was finally a new album.
Well, almost. The 8 tracks published where recorded between July 2014 to April 2020, an endless process for someone like RHK who used to drop up to 3 or 4 albums a year in different monikers for several years. Two of these had already been on the Atonal Compilation in diffent versions. So I guess the main effort was to get the balance right between RHK’s own style, expectations coupled to the CV name / brand and proper marketing. As a whole this is good, but not extraordinary and if it had been sold to me as a new RHK album under whatever moniker I had had no problems with it. Seeing it as a continuation of the last Cabaret Voltaire albums – Plasticity, International Language and The Conversation does not really work for me as he plays it safer than needed.

When he published his excellent solo album “Dasein” on his own Intone label after a long silence back in 2017 this felt to me more like his mind had wandered through the different approaches and phases of the past and making a stand for the future.

Dasein

Of course besides a little press and his die hard followers the waves stirred up for this one where foreseeable smaller and the bleak b/w image did not attract occasional listeners in the first place too.

While excitment was still allover the place 3 (!) more new releases had been announced in January; a limited 12″ EP (in funky curacaou Vinyl) for February

…and two one track Drone derivates for March and April. The later again as Double Vinyl Album (in white), CD and digitally available for pre-order.

All design / photography / layout by Richard’s long time allies Phil Barnes and Phil Wolstenholme, mastered to perfection by Denis Blackham.

Rewind : Here as a recent mix of the last years of CV active as the duo Kirk / Mallinder:

Low Cool
The Message (An Original Hollywood Theme)
Searchin’
Colours (Thunder Mix)
Easy Life (Jive Turkey Mix)
Brutal But Clean
Ride Baby Ride (Acid)
Hypnotised
Smooth
Don’t Walk Away
Keep On (Clubbing)
Keep On Pushin’
No Resistance
Afterglow
What Is Real
Alright
Rescue Me (City Lights)
Resonator

2020 Shortlist : Chronological

Due to the global pandemic slowdown 2020 was musicwize a great year for unexpected archive releases and supporting artists with no other income via digital purchases.
Concerts I’ve missed where I already had tickets for (Heaven 17 and Drew McDowall). Other tours and events, like the James Bond Movie f.e. and the cabaret shows I had in mind just disappeared
but at least no one I live along was seriously ill and suffered which allows me to keep some hope left for the better.

Like so many I’ve spent unexpectedly much time at home which brought the bonus of listening to more longform pieces and much more music in general. One of the artists I discovered and listened a lot to was OhmikRon, a Musician and DJ from Hungary with many mixes online at soundcloud and a batch of releases spread over various platforms and labels. I already featured one of his extraordinary dubtech tracks here month ago but as the according album was issued in early February I won’t miss the chance to include it here.

Another early bird of 2020 when we still thought Donald Trump and his likeminded fans where one of the greatest global Problems was the 2nd Album from the US Ska / Pop act Heavensbee. Different line-up and new singers but lyrically and musically a great pleasure to listen to, especially when it get’s a little more sunny outside. I kept this one always on my phone;

In March thing looked more grim already and an emotional snapshot of mixed feelings, effects of isolation, unforeseeable future developments, danger through social habits reached me via Marco Milanesio’s new label hum_an. Italy was by then more haunted than Germany as I recall and it was hard to believe the news.
A collaboration of DsorDNE with Onda Lunga, the resulting 20+ Minutes left an lasting impression on me.

May brought a new 10″ single by an artist I’ve been following through the years, since I discovered the first Bourbonese Qualk album in a 2nd Hand store and discovered a pretty unique approach
leading to many styles and releases I enjoyed a lot. Since the end of BoQu he released two brilliant albums as solo artist, the second more electronically based and more easily to obtain appeared in 2018 and this was the first new release I found issued in dubplate form on a small french label with a version on the flip. Digitally not fully available online but really worth tracking down.

Also in May ŽEN from Croatia issued this free / pay what you want Remix Album to celebrate their 10th Anniversary I stumbled upon while looking up whatever happened to Borghesia, a pretty underrated ex-yugoslavian band I’ve been listening a lot to somewhen in the last century. While their regular Albums are recommended on their own too this more electronically / experimental approach collected here works surprisingly well and I’m sure their lyrics are full of passion and sense too.

June brought the next fruits of the Cousin Silas / Glove Of Bones colloboration, actually the 4th already and this one connects even more wildly than it’s predecessor Afrodubism with a fictious Africa, Voodoo and Experimental Dub. It can be reminiscent of African Head Charge at their heights while adding the spiritual freedom of The Grateful Dead and after repeated listening it get’s addictive. Great Stuff, you’re warned. And it was releases on Cassette too. Who could have believed we’ll return to buying tapes casually in 2020?

Always a pleasure is a new release by Little Annie Anxiety, while never sure if it will be more Torch, Experimental or Blues orientated her lyrics and incredible smokey voice classified her years ago as the diva of our generation. Her history is as interesting as her whole ouvre – working with Crass, On-U Sound, Coil, painting, writing and during the last years being involved with Italian group Larsen a lot she returned with a new album which bears one of the very best suitable titles for 2020 imho; ‘A Bar Too Far’. Contrary to her last one this leans more into the blue hours, recorded with Paul Wallfisch on the Piano once more after a break of 10 years and also featuring Kid Congo Powers on several tracks. Since July only available digital with full cd graphics enclosed on a ‘pay what you want/can’ base, all proceeds are donated to a good cause in her local community at Miami, Florida.

Shriekback where one of the artists who took their chances to empty their archives this year in full. Nearly no month without a release passed by and I still did not manage to catch up with it. Besides rare live and session material, collaborations and solo stuff now nearly their complete catalouge is now available digitally too but only via their homepage.
No other way supports the artist more directly, so check it out, also a wealth of free downloads can be found there to wet your tastes. Stic Basin was an project started by Barry Andrews years ago and besides my chance to get the first release finally he also found time to get this 30 Minute something Album out in October, even physically as limited DIY CD in hand stamped and personalized digipak too. The only fault I could find was – it is too short.

stic basin - 2 cover

Coincidentally another 17 years came to fruition for Denise Sherwood, the eldest of Adrian (ON-U Sound) Sherwood’s daughters. ‘This Road’ as she frankly admits in interviews was devoloped, rethought, re-recorded in parts nearly endlessly. Still it sounds like a ‘Fairy Tale’ and fulfils all the promises her contribution to 2019’s excellent ‘Pay It All Back, Vol. 7’ compilation ‘Ghost Heart’ made. This is charming, groovy and – dare I say – soulful at once.
Of course it helps if you have Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Skip McDonald, Doug Wimbish, George Oban, Keith LeBlanc, Carlton Oglive, Mark Stewart and equally talented guests at hand and a great producer and engineer as father. I just wished she could have gotten her mother – Kishi – to do one of the classy ON-U sleeves for this, while I understand that the japanese styled aquarell of flowers in a broken vase in mellow colors might be for her the perfect fitting artwork. Available in all formats, a real gem.

Released in late Autumn, End of October came Drew McDowall’s 4th solo album, his closest to Ritual Music and to his time with Coil yet. A differentiated and very delictate but minimimal and ambient work. Coupled with utterly bizarre artwork by NY artist Caroline Schub who sees her work as public record of chronic illness and published by Dais Records in a variety of formats including limited beautiful grey smoke Vinyl, green transparent and unlimited black Vinyl. Digital it comes along with it and two extra tracks. I did not expect too much from this to be honest but working on Coil reissues he was involved in and the Time Machines live project it seems he found his way now more focused again. ‘Agalma’ is a sublime pleasure, where musicanship, vision and well crafted mastering and production meet.

Beginning of December a 19 track fundraiser compilation supported and initated by local artists with all donations going to Our Kitchen on The Isle Of Thanet (1hr away from London on the coast of Kent) was published via bandcamp digital only. While for me the unknown and exclusive tracks of artists I knew – Adrian Sherwood Mixes, Mark Stewart Vs. NoHumanEye, Youth and one of the last mixes done by Andrew Weatherall for Meatraffle – did not let me think very long about the 5 P.St. asked for it. Especially after using the chance listening to it as a whole I was impressed with many of the tracks by artists I’ve hardly ever heard of. This is an outstanding compilation and worth every Penny.

Of course this listing can only be a glimpse, there have been several more outstanding and remarkable releases throughout the year and most likely even more I simply missed and find about in years to come.

Seasonal Highlights :The Legendary Pink Dots

Another dear tradition of the ever generous Pink Dots is the festive closure of the year with a special EP, sometimes more reminiscent of an audio play (Well actually two as there is a Halloween Special, too).

Enjoy…. and ‘Sing While You May’

“The journey’s tough but the destination is divine.”
Edward Ka-Spel, A Red Winter Night’s Dream, November 2020.

Seasonal Highlights :The Cleaners From Venus

One of the great tunesmiths of our time, gardener and poet, well actually a relict of the jangling 60’s – Martin Newell from Wivenhoe, Essex has published this year’s “almost traditional Christmas EP” as usual as pay what you want / can release:

Listen and Enjoy.

Martin Newell 2020

He also overhauled his online presence after years and besides a new homepage and bandcamp he can be found on twitter, fb and instagram easily.

And while I’m at it; there’s also a documentary in the makes which should be published in one way or another next year – watch the trailer on yt;

Besides staying inside like what felt the whole year many re-mastered releases and nearly lost albums made it back in the limelight and to my pleasure the very first real Cleaners From Venus post 1980’s album, the excellent “English Electric” whose title was immediately snatched by O.M.D. found it’s way back in November too.

An American Dream

And I was dreaming in my sleep
Saw through you all
And I was dreaming still on my feet
Saw through you all

And I saw what you could be
And you just don’t feel free

And I saw what you could be
But you just won’t be real to me

So let’s blame this excess
On an American dream
So let’s blame the success
Of an American dream

Are you confused by the chaos
In everyones wandering eyes
Do you dream of running naked
In warm rain
Are you confused by the chaos
It’s no, it’s no surprise
We all stand next to Jesus
Close to Satan we’re both the same

These birds can’t fly away away
These birds can’t fly away

So let’s blame this excess
On an American dream

So let’s blame the success
Of an American dream (x4)
Feeling so high and low
It’s the American dream (x4)

Daniel Ash / David J. Haskins / Kevin Haskins 1986

DsorDNE Lontano Da Dove?

Recorded during the later 90’s with new and old collaborators it remained nearly unpublished besides a small promo CD edition and got nearly lost. With Cinzia La Fauci‘s vocals – also known from Maisie and today’s Snowdonia Label – it’s astonishingly accessible without loosing the edges.
Now remastered at O.F.F. by Marco Milanesio and available as Digital & Vinyl in October with new artwork – thanks to Details Sound, Italy.

In short, of course this is recommended. Autumn is here and where to now from here no one knows… Music likely won’t save the world but maybe enlighten some spirits. Human expressions and emotions are to be treasured in times of ignorance and blind faith.

Lontano Da Dove? is a bittersweet romance – promising and exciting but also vague and misty.”

RICHARD H. KIRK – SHADOWS OF CABARET VOLTAIRE

‘Vasto’ is taken from the forthcoming Cabaret Voltaire album, Shadow of Fear, to be released on Mute on 20 November 2020.
[CABS30] CD/Vinyl/DL/T-Shirt – Pre-order here.

“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.”

Since RHK reclaimed the Cabaret Voltaire name for his works, at first for special remix albums like Kora!Kora!Kora! (2009) or National Service Rewind (2010) the discussion started if this is really CV as we know it. Mallinder is reportedly not lucky about this move but he left the band in the 90’s and won’t come back. So legally RHK owns the name and does what he does.

A series of live performances followed with all new material starting with the revitalised Atonal Festival in 2015 and the only released material so far came as two tracks on the triple 12″ document recording. This had been promising but Kirk got sidetracked once more into archival releases via Mute; a RHK and a Sandoz Box with extra material, the long lost ‘Chance Versus Causality‘ Soundtrack from 1979 being the most interesting of them besides the hardly promoted excellent ‘Drinking Gasoline’ CD/DVD package.

This will be the first new material since 2017’s ‘Dasein‘ and hopefully not the last to be heard by Richard H Kirk.
Stephen Mallinder in the meantime went into overdrive frenzy with different projects like Wrangler (Analogue Revival Formation), Creep Show (with added Prog-blues singer) and his 2019 solo album ‘Um Dada’ (Clubmusic).

Ökologisches Liedgut Für Junge Aktivisten Und Zur Moralischen Bewertung Veralteter Ideologiekonzepte!

Kann eine Band mit Titeln wie “Normalitätsempfindungsanpassung” oder “Wollte, Würde, Hätte” schlecht sein? Warum jagt uns eine Krise nach der anderen? Was wurde aus Zero Moment Of Truth seit dem tollen Debüt von Anfang 2019?

ZMOT spielen live im Garten Ausschnitte aus ihrem neuen Album “Ökologisches Liedgut für junge Aktivisten
Dazu Video-Erinnerungsfetzen an die Geschehnisse und Erlebnisse der letzen Monate.

[straight from youtube aktuell]

Das ganze seit kurzem auch als Download Album mit PDF booklet nach dem Motto reinhören, zuhören und zuschlagen (Trieb- und Gewissensbefriedigung durch Kauf von 100% wiederverwertbaren Bits und Bytes).

Severed Heads Finally Escaped From Further Zombification

In Autumn last year Tom Ellard finally succeeded to get rid of the name “Severed Heads” which stuck to the group from 1979 onwards and even with him when the group started to evolve into a one man project beginning in the late 80’s.
He stated fair enough it was not his choice (Australian for Talking Heads?) but even with side projects and solo efforts he had just put to much energy into it to drop it like that. After all Severed Heads where rooted in the same Australian diy scene as S.P.K. and a well-known name (brand?) in early electronic experiments with tape, loops, found noises which continued with their constant use of available technology including video productions and screening containing defamiliarized images and a mixture of psychedelic mutations of electronics starting as early as 1982.

The audiovisual band featured Stephen Jones on Video Synthesizers and headed into their strongest phase starting with “City Slab Horror”. When they toured “The Big Bigot” in 1986 I had the luck to see them in Munich (together with Indie Rockers Inca Babies, Gaye Bikers On Acid and the then recently reformed Wire) and was heavily impressed of the futuristic sounds and graphics they produced. Distribution and licensing deals with Ink Records (UK), Nettwerk (USA) and Volition (AUS) where in place and all looked very promising until their gear was stolen. Slightly demoralised and back in Australia they started working on what became the ill fated breakthrough album “Bad Mood Guy” featuring the heavily promoted single ‘Hot With Fleas’.

This was the first of many attempts to create a hit single and please the labels.

“Rotound For Success” followed in 1989, aiming even more directly into the area of electronic dance music with pop appeal leading to a mediocre album where electro, ebm/industrial and experimental roots shone through only in the technical craftsmanship. The pointless Pumpkin on the cover nearly said all, I actually waited years until I got a cheap and perfect copy just for completion. No less than three 12″ singles had been issued surrounding this one to feed the happy dancing crowd – ‘Big Car’, ‘All Saints Day’ and ‘Greater Reward’ the best of the lot.
Further attempts to popularize the band – meanwhile Ellard and Jones – where made in 1988 with the “Bulkhead” Compilation which lead to a first revival of ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ and in 1991 with the newer Remix collection “Retread”. The last proper Album for Nettwerk followed with “Cuisine (with Piscatorial)”. While it started great with ‘Pilot In Hell’ everything that followed went downhill with only a few exceptions. The balance between commercial appeal, wierdo Pop and interesting electronica of the times was just too much too handle. Ellard later said in interviews we tried to make club music for drugged party people while we never went to clubs or took drugs – so it basically could’nt work. Nettwerk dropped them afterwards (I guess the extra experimental section Piscatorial at the end of the CD did not help) in favour of female singers and rappers while distancing from the whole ebm/electronica acts which made them big. The European distribution via PIAS got lost along the way.

1994 saw Severed Heads (now Tom Ellard solo) return with “Gigapus” on Volition in Australia, with ‘Heart Of The Party’ issued as single on the heels of the ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ Remixes by long term collaborator Robert Racic. 1995 a Carlos Perón remastered version in Europe and 1996 an USA version. Several versions include VHS, CDRom content etc. Again a hell for collectors but nothing helped to increase the fading popularity and the crash of Volution Records ended basically their career with the music industry for good.

Back to basics Tom Ellard as always interested in technical progress was one of the first musicians to embrace the DIY of home-burned CD-R’s and perhaps the first to offer downloadable music from his SevCom pages. The new found freedom had it’s price, loads of equipment was sold, full time jobs etc. The Music Server series was started (Muzak to create working atmospheres 1998 – 2002) followed by the idea of an ever evolving Magazine like release (OP 2002 – 2007) and more. The first of these was licensed as soundtrack for the Australian movie “The Illustrated Family Doctor” and Parts used as Soundtrack won the ARIA, the Australian Music Industry Award in 2005.

‘Haul Ass’ in 1998 and ‘Under Gail Succubus’ (2006) where the only regular Studio Albums issued and they showed a return to form.
The later, coupled with the first of the Barbara Series led to another series of (including this) 4 releases up to 2018, the other volumes credited to Tom Ellard. A highly welcome work crossing all borders.

Besides LTM issued a Heads Live CD, a double Best Of called “Commmerz” and the collectors label Vinyl On Demand a Box with old and oldest recordings, revised and supervised back in 2008. So the first Ending hat not really a chance to stand. Severed Heads stepped out of the grave once more….

These activities lead to a revival in reissues, performing and reworking releases and videos. Also some solo stuff. Also free stuff. Side Projects and remasters. Installing an ever-changing bandcamp site and facsimile reproductions on Vinyl. Besides the usual strange stuff, Tom Ellard Solo & a dive into new and unusual concepts and formats whenever possible.

As a final goodbye there was a limited CD available (now digitally available) to elaborate on what he felt like performing the ‘greatest Hits’ over and over again:

‘The Living Museum’ features the tracks in their final updated versions as performed on the last live Shows in Europe, US and Australia during 2019. This is the 2nd serious and most likely final attempt of Ellard severing ties with Severed Heads and progress actively forward.
The new banner which greated visitors of the SEVCOM home over a period of months announcing his new organisation :

[click it’s online now]

lost in musick II