When he released his last ‘solo’ album in 2017 (before returning to use Cabaret Voltaire for new releases) I always felt this would be a great way to end his lifelong career. “Dasein” includes many facettes, uncomprising and still groovy, disturbing but listenable. It sums up so many of his interests and phases masterly and as such could have been the closing point of his musical career, going full circle from electro, industrial, experimental white funk, acidic house and experimental cut up’s.
[Intone CD9 – also the first Vinyl 2LP on his own label]
Mute announced today via Instagram:
It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H. Kirk has passed away.
Richard was a towering creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career.
We will miss him so much.
I did not yet come to terms with his two latest CV Drone releases yet but loved the beautiful 12″ and liked the “Shadow Of Fear” album even if I had the impression that he’s been playing it safer then necessary. Somehow I doubt it was an attempt in seniority mildness…
Classic later CV in the mix (l.t.r. Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder)
A great deal of his work was curating the Cabaret Voltaire back catalouge, licensed nearly complete to Mute. Partly remastered, remixed and reworked carefully besides many live recordings and some unreleased gems like the complete “Chance Vs. Causality” Soundtrack from 1979.
I’m running out of words for now. Thankyou for all the hours and hours music & inspiration.
In times where many thoughts lead back to what once was normal for each of us there is a little catchy ironic nostalgia as performed by Stahlnetz showing this is not really new in phases of change a pleasure to rediscover. I loved the single when it came out and was lucky enought to find the 12″ pretty soon afterwards in the bin’s when the NDW came to an bitter end and German sung pop music went English again or straight into oblivion.
Single (1981/82) aus dem Album Stahlnetz – “Wir sind glücklich” (BMG Ariola).
Produziert von Conny Plank. Musik & Text: Jochen Rausch.
Unavailable since 38 years, except as expensive 2nd hand copy LP, now a digital reissue is available carefully transferred and remastered from the original Masters via various sources. Artwork and tracklisting was altered on this occasion so hold your breath if you paid a lot for the orginal album.
Besides – an unreleased track from the Conny Plank sessions was released a few years ago via Jochen’s Soundcloud.
In December 2020 they actually released a new album (!)
“Music For Smartphones” is (of course) digital only and accompanied with an (extended) single too. But most thrilling – 51 tracks, just arround 1 Minute in length and each accompanied by a video to be found on youtube….
In an interview posted on their homepage they go into the details –
Jochen Rausch and Det Cremer from Wuppertal use a the digital voice software they called Marta and their idea to work with the restrictions following the obversation of people scrolling through their timelines with a short affection span endlessly. Of course you can find them now on Instagram, FB alike with your smarthphone (…)
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.
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.
The Message (An Original Hollywood Theme)
Colours (Thunder Mix)
Easy Life (Jive Turkey Mix)
Brutal But Clean
Ride Baby Ride (Acid)
Don’t Walk Away
Keep On (Clubbing)
Keep On Pushin’
What Is Real
Rescue Me (City Lights)
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.”
‘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).
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 :
As my thoughts go to the catastrophe in progress which hardly leaves anyone unaffected now I like many others found more time than usual to takea look how some of the musicians I follow react to it and deal with the situation of quarantine and isolation.
Not sure if this ambient experimental work by DsorDNE with Onda Lunga was recorded in hindsight of the current overall mood but it’s quite impressive transmitting a special mood;
Due the unforeseen time he had on his hands Maurizio Pustianaz aka Gerstein remastered some of his elder recordings and reissued them via his bandcamp. Two fine examples are shown below.
Also the gorgeous “Colonna D’Aria” Compilation from Snowdonia (Reissued as SP 002 several years ago) is now professionally remastered online @ Klappstuhl Records – featuring exclusive Gerstein and DsorDNE tracks hidden in one long flow of early late 80’s Italian eclectic underground music.
Ex-Italian ‘Superstars’ PANKOW are giving away their latest re(re-)leases on the Canadian Artoffact label as “pay what you want” for the time being, as do most of this label’s artists currently, among them the incredible and unforgotten Nash The Slash (R.I.P.).
Directly responding to the current pandemic is Amplify 2020 -an online action initiated by Jon Abbey of Erstwhile Records – free downloads of musical pieces created especially during this time as direct reaction. Submissions are still open for those interested to participate.
40 Year after ‘The Amazing World Of Mr. Concept‘ burst onto the tape scene here is the conclusion… “a continued rapid stream of delight”……………… true to the spirit of his early Cassette only albums this release is made and mixed for listening in one go.
Includes extensive liner notes by Mr C! as PDF booklet and of course printable artwork to make your own CD (Sorry, blank tapes are expensive nowadays).
But this is by far not the only project he was working on in the time since ‘XXXVII‘ was released, discover more Concept City productions at the new bandcamp site and enjoy the reissue as digital version or facsimile copy of the legendary ltd. Cordelia Records 1985 Album ‘November’ on LP. Currently available via Platform 23 from Nepal.
There is also a limited amount of original Klappstuhl CDr’s for those who prefer a physical product, including a free dl of the digital booklet. Rumours state it will be only 22 copies of this one which was already issued on February 20th. In any case – Mr. Concept wishes you a good time…