Recoil and Cabaret Voltaire

recoil1.jpg

Since it was announced this week that Cabaret Voltaire will release a new album in November, here’s a short Cabs-related film that used to be impossible to see. A Sheffield art student, Nick Allday, made Recoil in 1981 as part of his course work, and managed to persuade Cabaret Voltaire to create a soundtrack:

The concept originated with raw material of video feedback and some sparse nuclear bomb footage available at the time. The idea was to represent in abstract form the cruel chaotic dysfunctional nature of the human condition with all its potential for self destruction. It was conceived as a manifestation of wretched anger, fury, and regret. (more)

Very typical of the early 1980s, in other words. The film was mentioned in a few of the group’s interviews around this time, and was also screened before some of their performances, but it otherwise remained a mystery until the footage was rediscovered and restored a few years ago. The copy of Recoil at Vimeo was uploaded by the organiser of the Gofundme launched to pay for the restoration, revealing music that sounds like an outtake from Red Mecca. (According to the post linked above this was mostly the work of Stephen Mallinder rather than the group as a whole.) And having written about Last and First Men a couple of days ago, it’s worth mentioning that Chris Watson, who was still a member of Cabaret Voltaire in 1981, recorded the natural sounds for Jóhann Jóhannsson’s film.

recoil2.jpg

As to the forthcoming album, Shadow Of Fear, I’m not the only person who finds everything credited to the group since Plasticity (1992) to be barely distinguishable from many of Richard Kirk’s solo works. Stephen Mallinder seems to be present in name only on these albums which makes you wonder what there is about a CV release that differs from a Kirk release, especially when the preview track, Vasto, sounds like more of the same. The real shadow of fear is the worry that a worthwhile project is being perpetuated for no good reason.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Pow-Wow by Stephen Mallinder
TV Wipeout revisited
Doublevision Presents Cabaret Voltaire
Just the ticket: Cabaret Voltaire
European Rendezvous by CTI
TV Wipeout
Seven Songs by 23 Skidoo
Elemental 7 by CTI
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire
Neville Brody and Fetish Records

Pow-Wow by Stephen Mallinder

pow-wow1.jpg

The debut solo album by Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire received an overdue reissue on the Ice Machine label a few weeks ago; my CD turned up yesterday. Pow-Wow was one of the last albums released by Fetish Records in 1982, and it’s always been one I preferred to the solo recordings by Mallinder’s much more prolific colleague, Richard H. Kirk. Away from Cabaret Voltaire, Kirk and Mallinder’s music is mostly instrumental but the latter had a very different sound, dubbier and much more rhythmic than Kirk’s abrasive distortions. The longer pieces on Pow-Wow work variations on the energetic industrial funk developed by the Cabs and 23 Skidoo, benefiting a great deal from Mallinder’s dominant bass and insistent rhythms for which he was aided by Cabaret Voltaire’s regular percussionist, Alan Fish. Last Few Days, the most mysterious of Britain’s early Industrial groups, receive a credit for “chance element”. Mallinder sings on a couple of the tracks (if his whispered growl can be described as singing) while taped voices fill out the spaces elsewhere: a ménage à trois on Three Piece Swing, a voice from an assassination drama (Executive Action?) identifying the speaker as “Lee Harvey Oswald”, and so on. A handful of shorter pieces that run for less than two minutes are little more than looped sketches, but the unidentifiable analogue sources still sound unusual and original today, unlike synth-heavy albums from the same period.

pow-wow2.jpg

Mallinder’s other solo recordings from this time were just as good: a 12-inch single, Temperature Drop/Cool Down, and Del Sol, his uptempo contribution to the Fetish compilation/memorial album, The Last Testament. Cabs-affiliated groups like Hula and Chakk aimed for a similar blend of industrial menace and danceable grooves but the results were seldom as successful. Mallinder’s greater experience shows on these recordings, the best of which are the equal of anything that Cabaret Voltaire was doing at the time.

pow-wow4.jpg

A Fetish ad from the Neville Brody-designed event booklet for The Final Academy, 1982.

The sleeve design by Neville Brody is another plus, vying with his cover art for Thirst by Clock DVA for being the most cryptic design among the many covers he produced for Fetish Records. The designer revealed his rationale in The Graphic Language of Neville Brody (1988):

This sleeve was about human ritual and human slaughter. In the media world of newscasters and advertisers everybody becomes a viewer; conditioned to regard other people’s sufferings as no more than a form of entertainment. The bullring is a metaphor for this.

A good example, then, of a cover that means more to the designer than to the record owner.

pow-wow3.jpg

All design by Neville Brody.

The new edition of Pow-Wow improves on the original and the scarce reissues by bundling the album with Del Sol, both tracks from the 12-inch single and an edit of Cool Down from a Japanese release. It also includes one of the shorter tracks which for some reason was missing from previous reissues (this and the long version of Cool Down are from vinyl sources). I’ve had all of this material for many years so didn’t really need the CD, but my records are a little worn through over-use, and besides which, these are cult works.

Previously on { feuilleton }
TV Wipeout revisited
Doublevision Presents Cabaret Voltaire
Just the ticket: Cabaret Voltaire
European Rendezvous by CTI
TV Wipeout
Seven Songs by 23 Skidoo
Elemental 7 by CTI
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire
Neville Brody and Fetish Records

Weekend links 477

starling.jpg

Edge of Industry (2009) by Anne Starling.

• “In her darkroom with her silver salts and gelatine plates, she experimented with the mercurial effects of light, time and temperature.” Hailey Maxwell on the photographic art of Dora Maar.

• A Visionary Work Renew’d: A conversational review of Swan River Press edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland by the late Sam Gafford & The joey Zone.

Brian Blomerth’s graphic novel Bicycle Day tells the story of the psychedelic ride made in 1943 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann while he was researching LSD.

• “The cinema is not the industrial cinema. The cinema is independent cinema.” Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now and related matters.

• More lunacy: “Fireworks, wild swans and super-cannons were propelling people mentally Moonwards long before 1969,” says David Seed.

• Mix of the week: Then Beautiful Swift Sparrows Led You Over the Black Earth by The Ephemeral Man.

Working (You Are), a new recording by Stephen Mallinder, his first solo work since Pow Wow in 1982.

Lost Proust stories of homosexual love finally published (but only in French for the moment).

Oren Ambarchi‘s favourite albums.

My White Bicycle (1967) by Tomorrow | Trip On An Orange Bicycle (1968) by The Orange Bicycle | Blue Bicycle (2008) by Hauschka

Weekend links 396

laswell.jpg

Cover art for Outer Dark (1994) by Bill Laswell. Photography by Thi-Linh Le.

• “In an era where music, among other creative endeavors, has been devalued as mere ‘content,’ freely accessed through the new digital medium, the very survival of those who create music and art and culture has been threatened. Bassist, iconic producer, and sonic visionary Bill Laswell becomes the latest legendary talent to fall victim to the vagaries of these crazy times. Beset by health problems while trying to navigate this harsh and uncertain economic landscape, Laswell is struggling to maintain Orange Music, the legendary New Jersey studio that he as helmed for the last 20 years. He is putting the call out to all fans, friends, and fellow artists alike: If you can help, please do so now. No contribution is too small.”

A Perspex Town is a video by Ian Hodgson (aka Moon Wiring Club) for Applied Music Vol.2: Plastics Today, a new album by Jon Brooks (aka The Advisory Circle).

• The strangeness in the land: Adam Scovell on the BBC’s Play for Today adaptation of Red Shift by Alan Garner. I’d recommend reading the novel as well.

• “My last album was pretty perfect,” says Scott Walker. Sundog, a book of his lyrics, is out now from Faber.

Popular Graphic Arts at the Library of Congress, a new resource of free-to-use, high-resolution scans.

• At The Quietus: LoneLady & Stephen Mallinder offer playlists of music they’ve enjoyed recently.

• Another Green World: Lewis Gordon on how Japanese ambient music found a new audience.

• The discography of Drew Mullholland (aka Mount Vernon Arts Lab) is now at Bandcamp.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 635 by Riobamba, XLR8R Podcast 526 by DJ Sports.

The occult roots of higher dimensional research in physics.

• Animated Britain: a YouTube playlist from the BFI.

Pye Corner Audio remixes Knightstown.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: John Waters Day.

• A World Of Different Dimensions (1979) by Tomita | Into The Fourth Dimension (Essenes In Starlight) (1991) by The Orb | New Dimensions In (2010) by The Advisory Circle

Weekend links 324

waliszewska.jpg

Untitled painting by Aleksandra Waliszewska. The artist is profiled by S. Elizabeth at Dirge Magazine.

• “…from my point of view, the only thing to do with any genre, any medium, is pretty much to break it, to transcend it, to find out what its limits are, and then go beyond them, and see what happens.” Alan Moore (again) talking to Heidi MacDonald about his novel, Jerusalem, which is out next month.

• A Monument to Outlast Humanity: Dana Goodyear gets the reclusive Michael Heizer to talk about his decade-spanning sculptural project, City, work on which is almost finished.

William Burroughs’ appearances in adult men’s magazines: a catalogue which includes some downloads of uncollected Burroughs essays and other writings.

• Mixes of the week: Homegirls & Handgrenades Mix by Moor Mother, Secret Thirteen Mix 194 by Kareem, and hieroglyphics #014 by Temples.

Remoteness of Light is a new album by The Stargazer’s Assistant inspired by the depths of the oceans and the vastness of space.

• RIP Gilli Smyth. “The silliness ran deep in Gong, but they could groove like mothers, too,” says Joe Muggs.

Guide to Computing: historic computers presented by James Ball as though they were new machines.

• “Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is one of the greatest love letters ever written,” says Colm Tóibín.

• “Will You Dance With Me?” Derek Jarman films dancers in a gay club in 1984.

• Snapshots from an editor: Donald Weise on working with Edmund White.

Stupid by Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter and Benge).

The Rutt-Etra-Izer

Dynamite/I Am Your Animal (1971) by Gong | Witch’s Song/I Am Your Pussy (1973) by Gong | Prostitute Poem (1973) by Gong