Recoil and Cabaret Voltaire


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.


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

5 thoughts on “Recoil and Cabaret Voltaire”

  1. Just my personal view, obviously, but I’d go further than that. For me, they’ve been treading water since Watson left. With many years’ hindsight, he seems to have embodied what for me constituted their essence.

  2. PS – Apparently latter-day CV is just Richard H Kirk, which I didn’t know till just now, so there you go.

  3. I wouldn’t call the work of the Virgin-era group “treading water”, especially the Crackdown 12-inch. I started to lose interest when they moved to Parlophone and the edges got smoothed from their sound and their attitude.

    I think Body And Soul was the last CV album that Mallinder appeared on. Subsequent albums have been credited to “Kirk/Mallinder” but I think that may be more to do with having rights to the name than any creative input. As I said above, if Kirk is Cabaret Voltaire, and the music sounds no different to so many of his solo albums then what’s the point?

  4. It should be noted that the organizer of the crowdfunding project to restore & release this short movie (Nik Allday/Sam Spruce himself) ripped off all kind contributors for the project and didn’t release it at all, keeping the money he collected, and didn’t even share the movie to anyone or care to give any explanation. This copy uploaded to Vimeo leaked from one of the contributors who helped him restoring it, it has been uploaded to many sites since then, although Allday keeps deleting it when he finds out. The name of the Vimeo uploader is obviously a joke.

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