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Cabaret Voltaire - The original sound of Sheffield '78/'82 (Mute) Buy from MNS

What can you say about CV? Industrial music pioneers, electronic music innovators, zeitgeist-tapping musical agitators? All of the above, but it doesn't really matter what you call them, Cabaret Voltaire are simply one of the most important electronic acts ever. Alongside their Industrial Records cohorts, Throbbing Gristle, the Cabs created sounds that were more threatening than punk, redefining the very nature of music in the late '70s and helping to lay the groundwork for the development of electronic music over the next 20 years.

This collection focuses on the years '78 to '82, when they were at their most challenging and extreme, before they slimmed down to a synthpop duo and went mainstream. The Cabs were more overtly political than TG, as evidenced by 'Do the Mussolini (headkick)', with the lyrics "blackshirts and perverts" and 'Baader Meinhof', about the German anarchist "terrorists". This, along with their name, taken from the Dadaist art movement, was what made up Messrs Kirk, Mallinder and Watson's "sonic terrorists" profile.

Musically, they remain as challenging as ever. The development of a broad range of digital equipment has allowed people to create clean and accessible electronic music with ease, but it's a million miles from the harsh and raw sounds of CV. But, just like the rock scene continually rediscovers the raw and chaotic onslaught of the Stooges, electronic musicians owe it to themselves and their listeners to go back and listen to what CV (and others) did without modern sequencers, samplers and laptops. For all their fancy equipment, few artists today come close to creating a track as enduring as 'Nag, nag, nag'.

Before there was house, techno, electro or garage, there was a handful of mavericks creating future music and Cabaret Voltaire stand proudly amongst them. Do yourself a favour, remind yourself that electronic music is about a lot more than radio-friendly, mass-produced German trance-pop and check this out.

Donnacha DeLong

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