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Cabaret Voltaire - This is Entertainment

Shadow of Fear

 When Richard H. Kirk decided to reclaim the name of his old band Cabaret Voltaire forty years after he co-founded the original trio in Sheffield with Stephen Mallinder and Christopher R. Watson, things seemed to have come full circle. Here was a band whose mesh of multi-media electronic experiments had been sired in the midst of northern English inner city post-industrial decline. Taking their name from the Dadaists nightclub in Zurich, over their original twenty year existence, their cut-up sonic constructions fused dub-kosmiche propulsion and fuzzed-up punk garage moved from underground paranoia to clubland mind-melding for the techno age.

 Six years since a now solo Kirk performed under the Cabaret Voltaire name for the first time since 1992, the release of the Shadow of Fear album this month seems to chime dangerously with the times. Arriving in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic, the aftermath of the American election and the UK’s looming departure from the EU, the title of the first release of original Cabaret Voltaire material since 1994 is a prescient pointer for the state we’re in.

 While the eight tracks on the album couldn’t sound more current as the record moves from the opening Be Free to the fizzing fanfares of What’s Goin’ On, there are ghosts of Cabaret Voltaire past, present and future at play here. Much of it comes from Kirk’s back to basics approach that sees him using original analog equipment in the latest incarnation of the band’s Sheffield-based Western Works studio. It was in this sonic lab that Cabaret Voltaire spliced tapes, twiddled knobs and synchronised beats from their early experiments onwards.

 The end result of Shadow of Fear for long term CV watchers is a familiar sounding rhythmic stew of electronics, distorted guitars and vocal samples that nag at the nervous system with discomforting insistence. On the one hand, tracks like Be Free or The Power (of Their Knowledge) sound like driving music for going round in circles. On the other, Universal Energy and the epic Vasto are thumping sci-fi floorshakers designed for sensory deprivation chambers.

 Inbetween, the title of Night of the Jackal and the opening percussive tease of Microscopic Flesh Fragment open out onto mini horrorscapes in their own right. Beyond the skittering electronic percussion of Papa Nine Zero Delta United are shades of A Forest by The Cure, while the fizzing synthetic fanfares of the closing What’s Goin’ On sounds like New Order’s In a Lonely Place as played by Coup era 23 Skidoo. That these undoubtedly unconscious chance-based extractions are all from 1970s/’80s contemporaries of Cabaret Voltaire speaks volumes, probably with extra-added distortion.

 But what of those who don’t know the mammoth life of Cabaret Voltaire in all its various century spanning incarnations, and who are coming to Shadow of Fear cold? For them, through the extended mash-up of unreliable memoir, hazy reminiscence, copious research and spurious interpretations that follow, like the character who opens and closes things, the future hopefully starts here.


This is Entertainment

 An Edinburgh nightclub called Cabaret Voltaire. Leap year Friday, February 2008, and it’s the Old Town club’s third anniversary as one of the city’s main small venues. Like many similar hangouts, Cab Vol is underground physically as much as ideologically, set as it is in a labyrinthine network of catacombs, adding an edge to local after-hours activity.

 To celebrate, in the main room, the club is hosting a touring version of Leeds-sired night, Sugarbeat. That night was founded by Tim Garbutt and Jez Willis of Utah Saints, who took sample-heavy electronic club music into the charts during the early 1990s with What Can I Do for You and Something Good. Sugarbeat too is celebrating its third birthday.

 By midnight, the club is packed full of twenty-something student types, attracted no doubt by the presence of Herve and Sinden, the electronic duo of Joshua Harvey and Graeme Sinden. As The Count and Sinden, the pair will shortly release Pharrell Williams-sampling single, Beeper, on Domino Records. The record will skirmish the lower reaches of the charts, and will be used on Sky Sports’ football talk show, Soccer AM.

 I’m convinced that Erol Alkan headlined the main room, but can’t find any evidence of it, though I do know he topped the bill at the following year’s Sugarbeat/Cabaret Voltaire birthday bash. Whoever played, the walls of the venue are as drippy with condensation as those packing the dance floor are sweaty.

 Away from the throng, the small second room is playing host to another artist from a now post-industrial Yorkshire a couple of generations older. As he makes his way to the table full of electronic kit in the corner not long after midnight, the four of us who’ve been waiting for him watch closely. The middle-aged goth-looking type with plum-coloured hair sips from what appears to be a Black Russian as he lays out a wallet-load of CDs in front of him.

 I’d interviewed him on the phone a couple of weeks before, the first of the original triumvirate from his old band I’d spoken to at the time, and he’d somewhat shyly asked me then if I thought anyone would turn up. Oh, aye, I said, I know loads of people who are going.

 The man with the plum-coloured hair and the Black Russian puts the first CD in the machine, and we’re off on what feels like a private listening party that mixes and matches a series of primitive electronic mash-ups. As with his huge sense-assaulting back-catalogue over the previous forty years or so under a myriad of aliases, the music worms its way through a low-attention span display of ethno-delic digital dub, kosmiche collages, music concrete experimentalism and raw pulsebeat power.

 It’s the first time I’ve seen this electronic conjurer onstage for just over a quarter of a century, and I’m keen to catch up with his extended cut-ups of rhythm-based sounds I now recognise come from an avant-garde tradition that goes beyond youthfully vague notions of Dada. The intimacy of the space and presentation too more resembles that of a new wave of noise-based experimentalists than the would-be superstar DJs next door.

 “Who’s this?” asks a voice beside me.

 “Richard H. Kirk,” I say to the twenty-something clubber who’s just appeared next to me.

 “Who’s that?” she asks, keeping her eyes focused on what passes for a stage in the corner of the second room ahead of us.

 “He used to play in a band called Cabaret Voltaire,” I say.

 “Who are they?” she persists.

 “Well,” I say, as Kirk takes a sip of his Black Russian, and pops another CD into his machine. “Let me tell you…”


 Plato’s Ballroom

 And I’m back in another club almost twenty-seven-years earlier to the day, where Kirk and the other two members of Cabaret Voltaire, Stephen Mallinder and Christopher R. Watson, are onstage playing a similar but even more primitive electronic pick and mix. A dizzying, low-attention-span flicker of slides and black and white films seemingly cut and pasted together at random flash behind them against a large sheet pinned up against the back wall.

The sound the trio make is a pulsating mish-mash of stentorian drum machine beats and brooding bass patterns, distorted guitars, alien vocals and shrieking clusters of keyboards and wailing abstract clarinet. Goodness only knows what the tape recorders are doing, as disembodied voices pierce the air.

 Together, this makes for a delirious hypnotic din that beguiles and repels in equal measure, challenging those listening to last the course. Even after midnight on a cold February Wednesday in 1981, my sixteen-year-old self was ready for anything.

 At that time, Cabaret Voltaire had released three albums on Rough Trade Records – Mix-Up, Live at the Y.M.C.A. and The Voice of America. These were dense stews of seemingly serious-minded sound collages that fused ‘60s sci-fi film hisses and weird psych sounds married to messed-up garage-band  pop melodies. At their most extreme they sounded like they’d been recorded in a nuclear bunker lit by a solitary bulb and used as a form of sense-assaulting torture.

 The club I’m watching them in is called Mr Pickwick’s, and the night is Plato’s Ballroom, a post-modern avant-garde cross-art Happening housed in a past-its-best chicken-in-a-basket cabaret club now more known for its grab-a-granny nights. The literary and philosophical references in the names of both the club and the night match Cabaret Voltaire’s own origins. I know vaguely that this is something to do with a Dadaist nightclub in Zurich, though I’m not entirely sure what that is. A bit like Plato’s Ballroom, probably, I imagined, in a less tacky interior, but with even more basic technology.



 At Plato’s Ballroom, Cabaret Voltaire were headlining a bill that opened with a band called Alvin the Aardvaark and the Fuzzy Ants. I’d later discover the band included Noko, the guitarist who formed Luxuria with former Magazine vocalist Howard Devoto. After that he’d become part of Apollo 440. Much later, Noko would play guitar with a reformed Magazine, stepping in for the by now late John McGeogh.

 Also on the bill was Jell, a band featuring Eric Random, who also played experimental solo stuff and with Eric Random and the Bedlamites. He was also one third of The Tiller Boys with Pete Shelley from Buzzcocks. All had records out on the New Hormones label. Random had played a solo set at Plato’s two weeks earlier, opening for The Durutti Column and Ludus.

 Jell were a quartet, with singer Lynn Seed, aka Lynn Walton, who also played mellotron, and was one of the Bedlamites. Someone called Lisa Lisa played clarinet and sang. With Random and a fourth member playing assorted guitars, drums and strange looking flutes, the distorted musical shapes that resulted came from the same sonic playbook as their peers in Cabaret Voltaire.

 This came as no surprise, as Random worked with CV both live and on record at various points, especially after Watson left. Random played at the January 1982 Sheffield benefit show for Polish trade union, Solidarnosc, released as an album under the name of The Pressure Company, and on tracks on CV’s 2x45 release.

 Both Mallinder and Kirk appeared on Random’s own records, including three tracks on the William S Burroughs referencing Earthbound Ghost Need, released in 1982. The six-track mini album also featured a slap-bass heavy version of Ravel’s Bolero, which saw the main melody played by trumpeter Andy Diagram, who played with the Diagram Brothers, Dislocation Dance and the Pale Fountains.

 Random recorded material at Cabaret Voltaire’s Western Works studio in Sheffield, some of which was produced by Kirk and Mallinder, and released on CV’s Doublevision imprint. As well as releasing music, Doublevision had been one of the earliest independent video companies, with CV’s own video compilation one of the first full-length video collections.

 From the Eric Random axis, Diagram would go on to play as part of David Thomas and the Two Pale Boys with Pere Ubu vocalist Thomas and guitarist Keith Moline, as well as with James and his own duo with Dislocation Dance drummer Richard Harrison as Spaceheads.

 More recently, Random appeared on Doppelvision, a CDr compilation released in 2012 by Austrian label, Klanggalerie to coincide with the label’s Doppelvision festival at Replugged in Vienna. With the collection’s title drawn from Cabaret Voltaire’s Doublevision label, the record also featured tracks by Mallinder’s current project, Wrangler. There were tracks too by Peter Hope, former vocalist with Sheffield fellow travellers Clock DVA offshoot, The Box, and some-time Richard H Kirk collaborator. 

 Klanggalerie had put out material by the Ku-Ling Brothers, one of Mallinder’s bands while resident in Australia for several years in the late 1990s and early noughties. The label also released Random’s albums, Man Dog (2014), Words Made Flesh (2016) and Two Faced (2017), plus the archive Eric Random & Free Agents album which appeared in 2020, which collected material originally recorded in the 1990s.

 Back in 1981, Jell’s sole release was a track called I Dare Say it Will Hurt a Little. This appeared on A Some Bizzare Album, the semantically unique compilation put together by electronic DJ turned alternative entrepreneur, Stevo Pearce, for his Some Bizzare label. The album also featured tracks by Depeche Mode, Soft Cell and The The, as well as Blancmange and the Burroughs referencing Naked Lunch.


Set List

 Cabaret Voltaire’s headlining set at Plato’s was a mix of old and new material. According to the set-list written in red felt tip pen on a plain sheet of A4 paper that I liberated from an onstage amp with its red sticky tape still intact, it opened with This is Entertainment, from The Voice of America, and followed it with On Every Other Street, which appeared on Mix-Up. This was followed by Your Agent Man and Sluggin’ fer Jesus, which would make up the two sides of a 12-inch single set for release the following month on exotic Belgian record label, Les Disques du Crepuscule.

 Obsession, from The Voice of America was next, bleeding into a version of the fourth Cabaret Voltaire Rough Trade 7-inch single, Seconds Too Late, released the previous September. An un-named new number followed, before an epic finale of Western Mantra, a sprawling twenty-minute epic, which had made up one side of the Three Mantras 12-inch released in January 1980. It was exhausting and exhilarating. By the end of the onslaught, I was more than ready to make the long walk home.


The Ticket That Exploded

 I was lucky to have been there at all. I found out about the gig from a strip of A0-size screen-printed posters with a silhouette image of a classical Greek statue posted outside and around Probe, Liverpool’s in-crowd record shop and social hub. Following the previous three nights headlined by New Order, A Certain Ratio and The Durutti Column, Cabaret Voltaire were the perfect follow-up. I went in to buy my ticket just as I’d bought the ones for the previous Plato’s Ballroom shows. Given its artistically inclined credentials, these weren’t boring regulation tear-off stubs like those for the Empire or the Royal Court, that were printed off in bulk. In keeping with the poster designs and the eclectic nature of the events, they were little artworks in themselves.

 The tickets for the New Order, A Certain Ratio and Durutti Column gigs had been small cardboard affairs, with the New Order one not actually naming the bands, and looking more like a membership card. The one for A Certain Ratio had the band name in a florid font set against a black background the same as the poster. The Durutti Column one was different again, with just a black ‘PB’ logo against a pink background, with only the date of the gig on, and nothing else below. The Cabaret Voltaire ticket turned out to be something different entirely.

 On handing over my £2 in Probe, I was handed a sealed see-through plastic wallet, with what appeared to be some kind of A6-size booklet inside wrapped in a plain brown paper cover. At first glance, it looked somewhere between a school textbook backed with an extra layer to protect it from careless fingers. Either that, or something kept behind the counter of a grubby second-hand bookshop, under plain cover and away from prying eyes.

 Opening the first page revealed the ticket itself, a blue piece of paper with the details of the gig above and below the classical looking ‘PB’ Plato’s Ballroom logo. The words ‘A Plato’s Publication’ ran across the bottom. Beyond these necessary formalities, the meat, as it were, came in the form of a punky looking 16-page Xerox-style zine. At the top of the front page was the word ‘Bent’. Beneath it was a small black and white photograph of a young man sitting on a bench outdoors. In the photograph, he is sitting at the end of the bench, bent over, with his head in his heads. He is also naked. A pair of work-boots and some clothes sit on the ground in front of him. The photograph is framed by a series of felt-tipped lines with a small triangle at the centre above the photograph. Down the side  of the page were the words, ‘THE JOKES OVER’.

 Turning the page, mis-shapes of typed-out phrases were laid out at different angles. I half expect it to be something about the bands. Wasn’t that the idea? Apparently not. I flick through it quickly. More words. Is it poetry? The typed-out phrases are just as impassioned. There are more pictures, the same figure, naked, crouched inside a coal shed. On the page opposite, in scrawled handwriting, the words ‘hello boys’ and ‘I hate you’. I don’t get it. 

 In the centrespread, the man sits astride a motorbike, naked again. His body is hunched forward the way the girlie models are in the glossy magazine ads for whisky and shoes, except here it’s done in such a way so you can’t see his face. You can’t see between his legs either, the way he’s sat. His crotch is either in shadow or… What the…?

 On another page he’s leant back across a stool or something. You still can’t see his face, but he’s wearing socks, and has what looks like a TV aerial lying across his crotch. The way he’s splayed like that, it looks like some kind of religious painting, with the man in the photograph a crucified martyr. But for what? I was confused. I’d just bought a ticket to see Cabaret Voltaire at Plato’s Ballroom, and I wasn’t expecting this?  I’d never seen anything like it before. Was it gay porn? A chance to provoke, outrage and subvert whoever bought the ticket? Or was it art? Was it all part of the show?


Gay Times

 In 1981, gay culture was something I knew very little about. Apart from Tom Robinson singing Glad to be Gay while wearing a Rock Against Racism badge and a school tie, pretty much all I’d ever seen of it was John Inman and Larry Grayson, high-camp parodies to entertain the masses. Quentin Crisp had entered into common parlance too after the TV adaptation of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, had made headlines a few years earlier. 

 Gay clubs and pubs were open secrets, hidden in plain sight, but never spoken of. On the surface they looked the same as any other pubs, but if you knew what you were looking for and could crack the code, were a gateway to a secret world. It was a world a million miles away from the rough-house, pint-and-a-fight meat markets of normal bars and clubs like how Mr Pickwick’s was most nights, playing host to smart-but-casual couples and last-dance desperation.

 I wouldn’t be taken to a gay bar for a couple of years yet, but I already got that there was something off-limits for those who weren’t part of that world. One way or another, everyone in it seemed to be playing with a different sex, as Birmingham rad-fem agit-punk-funk band The Au-Pairs would have it in the title for their debut album. And anyone with any kind of arty sensibility, it seemed to me, was part of all that. I blame David Bowie. I wasn’t gay, I knew that much. It was hard enough talking to girls without anything more complicated. I just wanted to know what was going on is all, and if it was anything more than striking a pose.



 For all everything I was lapping up at Plato’s was dark, serious and abstract, it seemed connected to that world somehow. This was clear from all the Kenneth Anger films that were shown, and which were full of leather-clad biker boys, or stripy-shirted sailors tossing themselves off behind bars. All this and Luis Bunuel’s surrealist shorts, Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or, too.

 The first clinically reported cases of what would become known as AIDS wouldn’t occur until June that year, and tabloid hysteria over what was wrongly dubbed as a ‘gay plague’ was some way off yet. While homosexuality had been decriminalised in England since the late 1960s, in Scotland it wouldn’t be legalised until 1980, and in an era before gay villages and Pride, even where it was legal, everything remained unspoken.

 So to open up this plastic bag to this Bent gay zine or whatever it was when I thought I’d just bought a ticket to see Cabaret Voltaire threw me somewhat. I was only here for the bands, after all. The poets and films as well, maybe. This was entertainment, as Cabaret Voltaire so witheringly put it on their song of the same name. This was fun.

 It was some years before I eventually put two and two together between all this and Plato’s Symposium, the Greek philosopher’s fantasy dinner party salon, which brought together the finest minds of his generation to argue the homoerotic toss over Eros. The recitations and other entertainments that ensued in a classical clubby environment set the template for every Happening ever.

 Fuck dance, some wag declared with a playful inversion of punk’s hedonistic back-to-basics slogan, let’s art. And all that simmering sexual promise that was hidden away somewhere by those exotic looking women and saved for their uber-cool boyfriends, that could all come later.



 In 2013, comic and fantasy artist John Coulthart speculated on his {feuilleton}, blog that the Cabaret Voltaire Plato’s Ballroom ticket might be the work of Geoff Rushton, aka Jhon Balance. As a teenage Throbbing Gristle fan, Rushton/Balance produced the Stabmental zine. This was before he became a member of Genesis P.Orridge and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson’s  post Throbbing Gristle band, Psychic TV. Rushton and Christopherson subsequently founded Coil.

 Coulthart made the connection by way of the cover of The Men with Deadly Dreams, a rare cassette compilation put out by Rushton/Balance on his White Stains Tapes label. Released in an edition of 200 in 1981, the tape features solo tracks by both Chris Watson and Richard H. Kirk, as well as Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle, Eyeless in Gaza, Rema Rema and A House. Significantly, perhaps, the customised cassette cover features an image pasted on to the same style of brown paper used for the Cabaret Voltaire ticket. 

 Cabaret Voltaire had released a cassette of early material, 1974-76, on Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records label in 1980. At the time of the CV Plato’s Ballroom gig, Christopherson was still just about a member of Throbbing Gristle, who were originally set to play a Plato’s event. Following a June 1981 show in San Francisco, however, the band issued a statement on a postcard, declaring that ‘The mission Has Been terminated.’ In terms of his own visual outlets, Christopherson was part of Hipgnosis, the design company behind album covers by Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel. Christopherson was also an accomplished photographer, who had taken the first promotional images of the Sex Pistols.

 The page in Bent with the words ‘GAY LIVERPOOL’ typed across, and a candid confessional of sexual yearning below, however, suggests all of this and none. Wherever it came from, there was absolutely no way I could take this ticket home with me and leave it lying about as I normally did. If my mum saw it she would never let me leave the house again. She was already suspicious of my recently developed penchant for staying out late in dodgy nightclubs.

 I hid the ticket in a drawer in my bedroom, where it stayed until the night of the gig. For some reason my mum asked to see my ticket. I told her it was upstairs, but she insisted. I was a bad liar. Maybe she could sense something was up. She was worse than the Stasi.

 I eventually gave in and went upstairs. I was loath to separate the blue ticket from the rest of the Plato’s Publication, but I had no choice, and tore it off as neatly as I could. Showing her what was now a rather flimsy looking piece of paper seemed to satisfy her, and I left the house with a sense of relief. With the rest of the brown-paper covered plastic-bagged artefact in my pocket, it felt like I was smuggling samizdat and possibly illegal literature across a border to who knows where.


Northern Lights

 The subversion went on. Two excerpts of Cabaret Voltaire’s Plato’s Ballroom show top and tailed each side of the first issue of Northern Lights, a cassette-zine or ‘Audio Magazine’ that I picked up in Probe a while later. The tape opened with a recording of CV doing Sluggin’ For Jesus at Plato’s, and closed with their live take on Western Mantra. Northern Lights also featured an item on Plato’s itself, with an interview with an un-named member of the ‘Situationalist Youth Collective’, who promoted the nights. Possibly drunk, he talked about wanting to put drummer boys on the door of the club to drum people in.

 The second issue of Northern Lights featured a recording of Eric Random performing 23 Skidoo at the third Plato’s Ballroom show, when he and Ludus supported The Durutti Column. Dislocation Dance also appeared on issue 2, while the third featured two tracks by Biting Tongues, and credited New Hormones as distributors. This edition of Northern Lights probably garnered more attention, however, for the appearance of an interview recorded in a Manchester pub in 1979 between New Hormones boss, Richard Boon, and the by now late Joy Division singer, Ian Curtis.



 The first time I heard Joy Division was on John Peel’s late-night radio show at some point in 1979. He played Cabaret Voltaire’s second Rough Trade single, Nag Nag Nag, the same night. Both were mind-expanding ear-openers. Here was electronic music, but it wasn’t smooth like Oxygene and Equinox, French composer Jean Michel Jarre’s burbling instrumental concept albums, the singles from which I’d bought a couple of years earlier.

 Nor did it resemble the melancholy machine music of Kraftwerk, who I’d vaguely heard had influenced the likes of Gary Numan and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, both of whom came into view around about the same time as Cabaret Voltaire. I’d bought the picture disc of Are ‘Friends’ Electric, Numan’s crossover hit with Tubeway Army, while the first Orchestral Manoeuvres single, Electricity, had been released on Factory.

 The squelchy garage of Nag Nag Nag certainly wasn’t like the pulsating fizz of Giorgio Moroder’s production work on Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, and that was disco anyway, so,

you know. Moroder had also co-written Son of My Father, a bubble-gum smash hit by Chicory Tip a few years earlier that was apparently one of the first pop singles to feature a synthesiser. Nah. Nag Nag Nag was dirtier than all that, and sounded like the sonic equivalent of a home-made bomb that had been lobbed into a more streamlined world, designed to blow up in people’s faces. 


Cut Up

 At that time, I had no idea that Cabaret Voltaire had taken their name from a Dadaist nightclub in Zurich. Neither did I know that No Escape, a track on Cabaret Voltaire’s first LP, Mix-Up , and credited to someone called Saxon – not the heavy metal band, surely? - was a cover of a Seeds song. I did kind of know that Here She Comes Now on CV’s Extended Play single was first done by the Velvet Underground, though I’d certainly never heard either of the originals.

 I read talk of how Cabaret Voltaire had been influenced by the likes of a German band called Can, a reggae producer who Peel played called King Tubby and novelist William S. Burroughs, who had said language was a virus from outer space. At that time, at least, these were just names to look up and drop into conversation like I knew what I was on about. Presuming, that is, I was ever likely to have any conversations with anyone about such things.

 There was talk of surveillance culture, phone tapping and the everyday paranoia of living in a police state. In America, the fallout of the Watergate phone tapping scandal a few years earlier had left its mark, and the Berlin Wall that wouldn’t be knocked down for a few years yet was as much a metaphorical barrier as a physical one. Britain’s inner-city riots that exploded in the summer of ‘81 were already simmering, and AIDS was about to turn sex into a potentially fatal health hazard. Like most northern English cities, Sheffield, where Cabaret Voltaire were from, was en route to becoming wasteland about to have its heart ripped out by Thatcher and her war on the working class.

 All of this fed into Cabaret Voltaire’s melting pot of ideas. Burroughs and fellow traveller Brion Gysin had put the notion of the cut-up into public consciousness, an idea itself purloined from Dadaist Tristan Tzara’s party piece of pulling words out of a hat at random and turning them into brand new poems. Burroughs and Gysin went further, recording their adventures, splicing tapes to create a mash-up of meaning. As film director Jean Luc Godard said about his films forged out of the French nouvelle vague, these all had a beginning, a middle and an end, as classical Aristotelian structure decreed, just not necessarily in that order.  

 Cut-ups and collaging were already being applied to the dancefloor through what we now know as scratching and sampling. This low-attention-span, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it best-of lingua franca of the post-modern world was pioneered on records like The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel, a favourite at Plato’s Ballroom.


Dada Dance

 But Cabaret Voltaire hadn’t hit the ‘floor just yet. They were still standing in the shadows, mixing vocal samples of hellfire preachers and American police captains calling the shots from behind mirror shades. These were set to industrial rhythms absorbed from the monolithic slam of hometown steel. But the jungle drums were already pounding elsewhere.

 The same month Cabaret Voltaire played Plato’s, David Byrne and Brian Eno released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. The collaboration between Talking Heads vocalist Byrne and former Roxy Music sonic sculptor turned ambient pioneer Eno had been recorded during 1979 and 1980. Getting clearance for the extensive samples that led the record, however, had held up the record’s release. Listening to it, it was clear the pair plundered from the same sonic palette as Cabaret Voltaire, but with a bigger budget, a more anthropological eye and a lot more funk.

 If My Life in the Bush of Ghosts stole the Cabs’ thunder, for the moment at least, Cabaret Voltaire’s first wave of assorted abstract evocations was planting sonic seeds that would later burst into full-on dancefloor subversion. Like Burroughs’ take on language, their sound was a virus that slowly but surely seeped into head, heart and butt. This was the holy trinity described by Byrne in his sleevenotes for Brazil Classics 2: O Samba, the collection of Latin music he compiled in 1989 for his Sire-licensed Luaka Bop label. Significantly, a track called Spread the Virus would appear on Cabaret Voltaire’s own 1981 album, Red Mecca.


Chance Versus Causality

 Some of the formative works behind the Cabaret Voltaire of this era can be heard on two archive releases put out in 2019 by Mute Records. 1974-76 was the first ever vinyl release of a collection first released on cassette  by Industrial Records in 1980, then on CD in 1992 by Mute’s Grey Area imprint. The new edition is a double set produced in transparent orange coloured vinyl. The record itself collects some of Cabaret Voltaire’s earliest and most exploratory recordings. The opening track, The Dada Man, sets the tone.

 Even more tantalising is Chance Versus Causality, the first ever full release of an improvised soundtrack to a film by director Babeth Mondini-VanLoo, who Cabaret Voltaire met in Brussels in October 1979 when they shared a bill with Joy Division at the Plan K venue in Brussels. This was part of a programme that also featured Burroughs and Gysin reading from their book, The Third Mind, which documents their experiments with cut-ups, both on page and on tape. The book had been first published in French in 1977, before an English-language edition appeared a year later.

 The only previous airing of material from Chance Versus Causality was when an excerpt from it was used as the B-side to Silent Command, the trio’s 1979 follow up to Nag Nag Nag. In contrast to its predecessor, the A-side was a woozily wonky dive into low-key industrial psych-dub gloop. This was delivered with menaces and a sense of foreboding that sounded light years away from the foghorn radiophonic stab of Nag Nag Nag.

 It was the latter, however, that prompted Mondini-VanLoo, then Babeth Mondini, to approach Cabaret Voltaire with a view to providing the soundtrack for her new 16mm film. Mondini-VanLoo was born in Holland, where she studied painting and design. In the early 1970s she studied film in New York, where she came into contact with Andy Warhol, and performed with underground filmmaker and performance artist Jack Smith.

 Moving to San Francisco, between 1974 and 1977, Mondini-VanLoo became involved in the local punk scene, worked for Search & Destroy magazine, and filmed the Sex Pistols’ final performance in the city. In Dusseldorf in Germany, she studied social sculpture with Joseph Beuys. The same year, she co-directed Not Guilty For Keith Richards, a five-minute short made with Abel Ferrara, who played Rolling Stones guitarist, Richards. Ferrara would later go on to make video nasties such as The Driller Killer in 1979, before going as mainstream as he got in 1992 with Harvey Keitel vehicle, Bad Lieutenant.

 Encouraged by Mondini-VanLoo to use principles of chance, Cabaret Voltaire’s original trio improvised what would become her film’s soundtrack without seeing it. They then posted the sole copy of the recording that existed on two reels of tape to the director. No one in the band ever saw the film, and the recording was only returned to Kirk a quarter of a century later. It was another decade and a half before the idea came about to release Chance Versus Causality in tandem with 1974-76.



 The soundtrack to Chance Versus Causality was recorded around the same time as The Voice of America, and the records sit well together. Both use a similar palette of vocal samples and rhythmic electronic sound collages. A sample of police guards being briefed regarding codes of conduct prior to a Beatles concert was used on both records.

 In portents of Watson’s later work on nature documentaries and with environmental sound, Chance Versus Causality’s continuous piece, broken up into seven parts for the new release, opens with the sound of running water, with the final part featuring a series of animalistic squalls.



 Following her encounter with Cabaret Voltaire for Chance versus Causality, Mondini-VanLoo went on to make short films documenting performances by Burroughs, Einsturzende Neubaten and others. In 1990 she directed Kiss Napoleon Goodbye, a 35-minute film co-written with Lydia Lunch, the New York No Wave artist, writer and front woman of numerous bands, from Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and 8-Eyed Spy onwards.

 Lunch also starred in the film with former Black Flag vocalist turned spoken-word renaissance man, Henry Rollins. Featuring a soundtrack by J.G. Thirlwell, aka Jim Foetus, Mondini-VanLoo’s film was described in one review as a ‘post-punk sex film’, and screened at the 1991 Berlin Film Festival.

 Several years later, Mondini-VanLoo became a professor with the Free International University in Amsterdam, and was appointed programme director of the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation. Under these auspices, she directed Meredith Monk: Inner Voice (2008), a documentary charting the New York composer, singer and choreographer’s development of her work, Songs of Ascension.

 A lavishly illustrated retrospective of Mondini-VanLoo’s work, Art = Life = Art – Babeth Mondini-VanLoo - From Beuys to Buddhism, was published in 2016. The book contains a series of texts by six different authors. These include a chapter by writer Dorothea Franck titled Chance versus Causality: Poetry as the Heart of Art. While Franck didn’t look specifically at Mondini-VanLoo’s film, a small image of a poster for a 1981 screening in Amsterdam features on the page beside it, with stills from the film itself filling the pages beyond.

 Beneath an image of Cabaret Voltaire, Mondini-VanLoo herself wrote how ‘The Nouveau Realists were the subject’ of her film, which featured Romanian-born Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri. The film also showed work by Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, who had roots in Dada, and who released several records of Noise music; and French-American feminist artist Niki De Saint Phalle.

 Following the belated release of the soundtrack in 2019 almost forty years after it was recorded, Chance Versus Causality was screened  at the Grauzone Festival in the Netherlands in February 2020. Mondini-VanLoo and Stephen Mallinder took part in a symposium led by writer John Robb to discuss the film and its elusive soundtrack. Mallinder was performing at Grauzone on the back of the release of his first solo record for three and a half decades, the tellingly named Um Dada.



 Like the music of Cabaret Voltaire, all of this parallel activity in film, literature and art seemed to fit in with the times we were living in during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Margaret Thatcher had begun her inglorious reign as UK prime minister in 1979, unemployment was on a high and paranoia about impending nuclear war had caught the imagination. Prior to all this, punk had opened things up in a way that enabled those curious enough to go beyond rock and roll to explore fresh alternatives. ‘Alternative’ or ‘alt’ was a word yet to be co-opted by the far right, and at the time was punk’s shorthand for noising up an already existing, if terminally laid-back, counter-culture.

 Alternative Cabaret in particular was a phrase that started popping up. In its wilful avoidance of the mainstream, the phrase implied an aesthetic that came out of a form of fringe theatre rooted in performance art. Multi-faceted bills contained music, poetry, performance and art of all kinds.

 Cabaret was no longer a compendium of dinner-suited comics, novelty turns and indifferent strippers supporting a wannabe Sinatra playing to audiences fuelled by a limp chicken-in-a-basket. This was an image of popular live entertainment that had been co-opted as a prime time TV reconstruction by way of a programme called The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. With the show’s bill of top variety turns playing to an audience sat at booze-heavy tables where they were served by bar-maids, The Wheeltappers and Shunters was a mock-up of a northern English working man’s club built in a Granada TV studio.

 The Wheeltappers and Shunters was the brainchild of Granada TV producer Johnnie Hamp, who had a previous hit with The Comedians. As the title of that show suggests, The Comedians was a quick-fire cut-up of stand-up acts being given TV exposure after working the circuit in places similar to both the Wheeltappers and Shunters and Mr Pickwick’s. In a pre-punk environment, their routines were often based on a variety of then accepted everyday stereotypes based around gender, ethnicity and sexuality.

 The Comedians ran initially for seven series’ between 1971 and 1974 prior to a brief 1980s revival. The Wheeltappers and Shunters ran for six between 1974 and 1977. Ratings for both Saturday night shows were huge. The Comedians and The Wheeltappers and Shunters by turns celebrated, emulated and pastiched a form of entertainment that would normally play to a few hundred punters filling the clubs. By broadcasting to an audience of millions who no longer had to leave the house to be entertained, the shows were arguably also helping to kill off the social life they were dressed up as, no chicken-in-a-basket required.

 One of the turns on The Comedians was Bernard Manning, who was also the compere of The Wheeltappers and Shunters. Manning was the master of unreconstructed blue-collar comedy. He also ran his own club in Manchester called The Embassy, which hosted the sort of cabaret stars who also turned up on the Wheeltappers and Shunters.

 When Factory Records opened the Hacienda in 1982, in the spirit of keeping things local, they hired Manning to do a set at the club’s opening night party. The post-industrial interior of the club was barely finished, paint was still wet and the sound was awful. Also, alongside punk, the new wave of alternative comedians was in its ascendant. This new generation of right-on motormouths were noisily counter to what they saw as dinosaurs like Manning, and gave short shrift to anything they saw as racist, sexist or ideologically dubious. With Manning barely able to make himself heard during his set, he returned his fee before, like Elvis, he left the building. The first gig open to the public the next night was headlined by Cabaret Voltaire.



 In February 1975, Trevor Griffiths’ play, Comedians, premiered at Nottingham Playhouse. Set among a group of would-be comics who attend a comedy night-class run by veteran stand-up, Eddie Waters, the play focuses on a roll call of acts auditioning for top London agent, Bert Challenor. These include an intense young man called Gethin Price, played by Jonathan Pryce.

 While most in the group go for lowest common denominator cultural stereotyping with varying degrees of success, when it comes to Gethin’s turn, he comes onstage wearing white face-paint and carrying a tiny violin, which he crushes before throwing Kung Fu style shapes. Gethin then starts up a crazed dialogue with two showroom dummies he proceeds to stab as he launches into a freeform monologue, ending his set by playing The Red Flag on another violin.

 This isn’t comedy in the traditional stand-up sense. In the way that Dada was anti-art, Gethin’s performance was anti-comedy, nihilistic and self-destructive in intent. It seems to be drawn from the sort of performance art that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a bill at Plato’s Ballroom, or perhaps the original Cabaret Voltaire club. In Gethin Price, Comedians also seemed to foresee a brooding disaffection among the young who would initially lash out through punk before finding their voice through other ways, be it music, art or even alternative comedy.

 In a 2015 Guardian article to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Comedians, the play’s original director Richard Eyre described Gethin as “a violent, almost psychopathic, romantic, dispossessed boy, consumed by a raging despair.” The article also quotes a behavioural psychologist friend of Griffiths, who once told the writer that watching his play was the sole instance in his theatregoing experience “where you’re invited to laugh, and then get punished for it.”

 A TV production of the play, again featuring Pryce as Price, was broadcast on BBC 1 in 1979 as part of the channel’s Play for Today strand. By this time, the old guard on Comedians and The Wheeltappers and Shunters were still big box office, but the new breed were starting to make waves. This would manifest itself in ferocious fashion in 1982 with the first series of The Young Ones. This anarchic anti-sitcom featured Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Christopher Ryan playing a student flat-share of punks, poets, hippies and chancers in a series of set-ups that frequently exploded into explosions of cartoon violence. Mayall, Edmonson and Planer had come through the London alternative comedy circuit, first in The Comedy Store, then at The Comedy Strip.

 Like the sort of comedy ushered in by Griffiths in Comedians through the figure of Gethin Price, music too had become more complex and eclectic. This was clear from the array of bands that frequently invaded The Young Ones’ living room, including Madness, Dexys Midnight Runners and post Pop Group free jazz-punk-funk combo, Rip, Rig and Panic.

 The musical strand of the show was to ensure it fell under the BBC’s variety budget rather than comedy, which was smaller. Such a mash-up of forms was also perfect for its time. If Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which had shaken up TV comedy a decade or so earlier, was a very English public school take on Dada, The Young Ones had taken it onto the street.



 The mash-up of left-field post-punk bands, performance art, poetry and surrealist films at Plato’s Ballroom was both arts lab and social club. Its publicity material referenced Joseph Beuys and Guy Debord, while its assorted Happenings owed as much to Andy Warhol’s Factory as the one that Tony Wilson built. 

 Elsewhere in Liverpool, on Mathew Street, the Left Bank Bistro hosted Wednesday nights of ‘alternative entertainment’. These featured poets, mime artists and even self-styled ‘world’s worst impressionist’, Michael Tait (geddit?), alongside headlining bands. Mathew Street, of course, was where both The Cavern and Eric’s had changed popular music a couple of decades apart from opposite sides of the street.

 In the mid-1970s, pop-eyed theatre director Ken Campbell, meanwhile, had set up shop a stone’s throw away as The Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool in an old warehouse turned Jungian inspired arts lab called The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun. It was here Campbell would present his riotous 12-hour staging of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s epic sci-fi hippy conspiracy trilogy, Illuminatus!

 With set designs by Bill Drummond, the ultimate result of this would be The KLF, the ‘stadium house’ duo formed by Drummond with Jimmy Cauty in the mid-1980s, before the pair left the music industry to embark on colourful and well documented anti-careers, both separately and together, as artists.



 In London, former Doctors of Madness vocalist Richard Strange had already set up a night called Cabaret Futura, which took place weekly on a Sunday night in Soho from December 1980 before moving to Mondays. As outlined in his 2005 memoir, Strange – Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks, Strange had been inspired by New York live art and multi-media spaces such as The Kitchen and PS1, where the likes of Laurie Anderson, Eric Bogosian and others performed.

 Cabaret Futura hosted the likes of Skids vocalist turned poet Richard Jobson’s autobiographical reimagining of Sylvia Plath’s poem, Daddy. This later fed into his debut as a film director, 16 Years of Alcohol. Jobson shared a bill with synthesiser duo, Blancmange, who appeared on Stevo’s A Some Bizzare Album compilation. Much later, Blancmange singer Neil Arthur’s twenty-first-century project, Kincaid, would support Stephen Mallinder’s Wrangler offshoot, Creep Show, at Glasgow School of Art.  Also appearing at Cabaret Futura was anarchic stand-up Keith Allen, the Comedy Store and Comic Strip veteran who, in 2009, would play Bert Challenor in a London revival of Comedians at the Lyric, Hammersmith.

 Other Cabaret Futura acts included short-lived Scots band, Everest the Hard Way, and nouveau cabaret duo Eddie Maelov and Sunshine Patterson. Performance art troupe, The Event Group, also appeared, with Strange himself either playing or else overseeing events.

 As reported in former Clock DVA drummer Roger Quail’s podcast, My Life in the Mosh of Ghosts, Cabaret Voltaire opened the Sheffield date of a short Cabaret Futura tour. Strange headlined, with Eddie and Sunshine sandwiched between. Eddie and Sunshine would appear at the final Plato’s Ballroom event at Mr Pickwick’s in August 1982, supporting The Pale Fountains.

 A Cabaret Futura compilation album, Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread, featured Maelov and Patterson, Everest the Hard Way and Jobson performing Daddy. Also on the record were Manchester band, The Distractions, Positive Noise, from Glasgow, and Royal College of Music trained Kissing the Pink. Their track, Don’t Hide in the Shadows, was produced by Martin Hannett, then Factory Records’ in-house producer. The song was released as Kissing the Pink’s first single en route to them becoming fleeting chart stars in 1983 with their single, The Last Film.

 Beyond this, Kissing the Pink singer Silvia Griffin would go on to sing backing vocals with Berlin-born  actress and chanteuse, Agnes Bernelle. Bernelle was a bona fide cabaret star with Weimar roots, and who had performed at Peter Cook’s Establishment club in the 1960s. Having been rediscovered by a new generation, Bernelle was having something of a second wind, and recorded with the likes of Elvis Costello, Tom Waits and Marc Almond.

 Following an album of Brecht songs in 1977 and more recent songs on her 1985 album, Father’s Lying Dead on the Ironing Board, Bernelle released what turned out to be her final record in 1990.  Mother, the Wardrobe is Full of Infantrymen took its title from a Roger McGough poem, and was released on the Some Bizzare label, which released several albums by Cabaret Voltaire following their move from Rough Trade.

 The ornate cover art for Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread was by Rene Eyre. Eyre was a former Central St Martin’s art student who moved into performance, creating her first works at Cabaret Futura with Strange. She went on to found her own performance company, Action Syndicate, and appeared in Derek Jarman’s film, Edward II. Eyre also founded The Plunge Club, a monthly live art cabaret night in a Brixton hotel, and moved between choreography, book illustration and teaching fine art.

 Strange’s own anti-career crossed similar boundaries. Aside from his musical adventures, he revived Cabaret Futura in 2010, with events running until 2017. In a similar spirit, in 2011, Strange curated events at New Moves – The International Festival of Live Art in Glasgow. In 2014, Strange collaborated with composer Gavin Bryars on Language is a Virus from Outer Space, an opera based on the life and work of William S Burroughs.


The Beach

 Also appearing on Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear Tread was an artist called Capalula. This was the pseudonym of Ken Hollings, the writer and former vocalist with Biting Tongues. The band had been formed in Manchester by saxophonist Howard Walmsley, initially to provide a soundtrack for his film of the same name. Hollings had published Theory – 140 Statements,  under the name Capalula in 1979. A 32-page manifesto of sorts in list form, Hollings’ book looked at what would become known as spoken-word performance, and how, according to the Boekie Wokie artists book website,, ‘shifts in cultural perception demand radical changes in the relationship between writer, text and audience.

 Biting Tongues recorded several records, including Live It, released on Richard Boon’s New Hormones label in 1981. Feverhouse, followed on Factory in 1985. The band’s guitarist was Graham Massey, who went on to release electronic records as one third of 808 State, whose 1988 single, Pacific State, was one of the first club records of its era to cross over into the mainstream.

 One of the venues Biting Tongues played was the Beach Club, a night started up in April 1980 by Boon, Eric Random and others in Oozits, a rundown gay cabaret club close to Victoria Station. The night was designed to fill the gap now that the Factory had closed, and showed films on one floor, with bands playing on the floor above.

 As outlined in Shadowplayers, James Nice’s definitive history of Factory Records, published in 2010, as well in Justin Toland’s 2007/2008 blog, Indie Originals: The New Hormones Story, The Beach took its name from the Situationist slogan, ‘Beneath the pavement: the beach’. The slogan had been daubed on Paris walls during the 1968 uprising. The phrase would also form part of the concept behind the Hacienda when it was opened by Factory in 1982.

The films shown in the Oozit’s-based gang-hut included David Lynch’s feature, Eraserhead, and Scorpio Rising by Kenneth Anger. Both of these would be screened at Plato’s Ballroom a few months later. They would be shown both during performances and between bands, when they’d be accompanied by records such as She is Beyond Good and Evil by The Pop Group and Grandmaster’s Flash’s Adventures on the Wheels of Steel.

 Many of those involved in The Beach both on and offstage came from the Factory and New Hormones axis. From the former, Section 25, The Durutti Column and The Royal Family and The Poor all played there. The Royal Family and The Poor released a 12-inch single called Art on 45, while the group’s membership at points included Nathan McGough.

 McGough was one of the ‘Situationalist Youth Collective’ who co-founded Plato’s Ballroom, and was possibly the one interviewed on the Northern Lights cassette-zine. McGough would go on to manage Happy Mondays, who would lead the charge in terms of democratising the dancefloor. The Beach was also the venue for New Order’s first ever live gig since Joy Division ended following the death of Ian Curtis.

 From New Hormones, The Beach hosted shows by The Diagram Brothers, Dislocation Dance and Ludus. The latter were led by Linder Sterling, whose feminist collages were used on the covers of the Buzzcocks single, Orgasm Addict, and in The Secret Public, the visual zine created with writer Jon Savage in 1977.

 Ludus’ songs explored sexual and gender politics using sparse lyrics set against a jazz guitar backdrop to create provocative musical collages. This transcended into full-on performance art during a 1982 Ludus performance at the Hacienda, when Sterling wore a dress made of meat. This in part recalled American artist Carolee Schneemann’s 1964 action, Meat Joy, and also pre-dated Lady Gaga wearing a dress made of meat at the 2010 MTV Awards. As outlined in Shadowplayers, Sterling’s action was done in protest at some of the soft porn casually shown on the Hacienda’s video screens. The event climaxed at the end of Ludus’ set when she opened up the dress to reveal herself wearing a large black strap-on dildo.

 As an artist, Sterling would go on to present extended theatrical and dance-based performances, including the four-hour The Working Class Goes to Paradise, both in Manchester in 2000 and at Tate Britain in 2006. Sterling also appeared alongside a cast of dancers and musicians in The Darktown Cakewalk: Celebrated from the House of FAME, a thirteen-hour choreographed pop culture pageant that took place at The Arches in Glasgow in 2010.

 One-off experiments at The Beach included the sole performance of Certain Random Cabaret, featuring Eric Random playing with members of Cabaret Voltaire and A Certain Ratio.  In this sense, The Beach was an arts lab template for both Plato’s Ballroom and the Hacienda. Like the original Cabaret Voltaire, it was similarly short-lived, with the last event at Oozit’s taking place in February 1981, the same month Cabaret Voltaire played Plato’s. 



 In radically different ways, these assorted excursions into art cabaret happenings, top light entertainment with a twist and out-and-out Dada actions were reinventing or reimagining what a good night out could be. All of which, in its artful, European and ever so slightly self-conscious way, rewound all the way back to its source in the original Cabaret Voltaire club.

 This, after all, was where Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara’s assorted high-jinks with the rest of Dada’s boys and girls sent cut-up reverberations down the decades, spreading the virus from both outer and inner space.



 Fast forward again to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art circa 2019, where the exhibition, Beyond Realism: Dada and Surrealism, is showing off a compendium of work from the National Galleries of Scotland collection. These include pieces by Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali and Max Ernst. There are less sung contributions too from Leonora Carrington, Roland Penrose and Czech artist, Toyen, aka Marie Cerminova.

 Vitrines contain assorted publications from the movement. One of them shows off pages from the surrealist manifesto penned by Andre Breton. Another displays a programme or manifesto for the original Cabaret Voltaire club. It’s not possible to open the cover to see what’s inside the publication, and it’s probably in French, anyway, but, despite the title, I reckon it’s unlikely there are any Xeroxed photographs of a naked man straddling a motorbike lining the pages. Even so, the spirit of provocation is undoubtedly intact.



 The original Cabaret Voltaire club was founded in February 1916 by German writer Hugo Ball and his performance poet wife, Emmy Hennings, along with a gang of émigré artists including Tzara, Sophie Tareuber-Arp and Jean Arp. With Zurich a neutral country during World War 1, the artistic community found a natural home to create a speak-easy free from the blast.

 As with all the best scenes, Cabaret Voltaire started up in the back room of a bar not originally built to house artistic activity. In this case it was in the Hollandische Meierei in Spiegelgasse 1. The Hollandische Meierei had already hosted Zurich’s first literary cabaret, Panragruel, in 1915. With Ball and Hennings looking for some kind of outlet, Cabaret Voltaire was initially a more orthodox salon-like affair, which brought together the various strands of the city’s would-be avant-garde. As Ball threw the ideas of proto-anarchist Mikhail Bakunin into the mix, and as the creative minds gathered in the Hollandische Meierei sparked off each other, performances grew wilder, until the manager called time on proceedings at the end of the summer.

 By then, Ball had written and presented the Dada manifesto, and the seeds for artistic revolution had been sewn. As is again usually the case with such short-lived club nights, its patrons moved on to the next cool hang-out in search of similar cheap thrills. Cabaret Voltaire was a catalyst in this way, as the sensibilities of its regulars rubbed off on other spaces in Zurich, then to Europe and beyond. So it goes in all such grassroots happenings, right through the twentieth century, from Warhol’s Factory to Wilson’s, by way of Cabaret Futura, the Beach, Plato’s Ballroom and the Hacienda. 

 As is the case with all such places once the buzz has moved elsewhere, they either adapt or die. The amount of fires at clubs over the last century suggests both are possible. In the case of the original Cabaret Voltaire, the Spiegelgasse 1 building that housed the Hollandische Meierei fell into disrepair, until, in the winter of 2001/2002, a group of neo-Dadaists squatted there in protest at the proposed demolition of the site.

 Over three months, a series of performances, recitals and film screenings took place. These attracted thousands of visitors, with the protest gaining a much higher profile than the original club had done. The squatters were evicted by police in April 2002. Since then, with the roots of Cabaret Voltaire now acknowledged on the outside of the building, a new cabaret club started up, featuring homages to the work of its forebears. These were key to the 2016 centenary celebrations of the original club, and at time of writing continue to shake things up today.



 Film was always a crucial component of Cabaret Voltaire’s world. Before Chance Versus Causality, they had long used projections of found footage as backdrops to their live shows. One of their earliest works was for an audio-visual installation apparently shown at the 1975 Edinburgh International Film Festival. While the event is listed on the website, which provides arguably the definitive list of Cabaret Voltaire output, no-one at EIFF can find any record of it.

 On record, film references abound. The original trio’s 1981 album, Red Mecca, the last full CV release to feature Watson, was book-ended by two different takes on a track called A Touch of Evil.  This may or may not have been referencing Touch of Evil, Orson Welles’ epic 1958 film noir. Welles’ film was re-cut by Universal Pictures without the director’s consent prior to release, though it retained its ambitious and now iconic three-minutes and twenty seconds opening tracking shot. It was another forty years before it was re-edited in a form based on Welles’ 58-page memo to the studio. The new edit was overseen by Walter Murch.

 Murch had co-written Star Wars director George Lucas’ 1971 science-fiction film, THX 11348, and was also credited with providing sound montage. He went on to do something similar with Lucas’ next film, American Graffiti, and was nominated with Art Rochester for a Best Sound Oscar for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film, The Conversation. Murch had already worked with Coppola as sound supervisor on The Godfather (1972)  before going on to win another Best Sound Oscar nomination for Apocalypse Now (1979). This was the first film to credit anyone as Sound Designer, with Murch helping legitimise post-production sound.

 While the soundtrack for Welles’ Touch of Evil was provided by Henry Mancini, Cabaret Voltaire’s impressionistic, percussion-heavy A Touch of Evil was in keeping with the band’s penchant for making soundtracks to imaginary films. Theme from Doublevision appeared on 1983 album, The Crackdown, referencing the band’s own video wing. Another excursion was Theme from Earthshaker, which appeared in 1984 on Micro-Phonies. This was for a proposed science-fiction collaboration between Cabaret Voltaire and director Peter Care that never came to fruition.

 Then there was Theme from Shaft, an audacious reconstruction of Isaac Hayes’ Oscar-winning title song for Gordon Parks’ hip 1971 blaxploitation crossover that gave the film so much of its drive. Theme from Shaft had been recorded when Watson was still part of CV, but its subversion of manipulated film dialogue set to a still faithful reconstruction of the song didn’t see the light of day until 1988’s Eight Crepuscule Tracks compilation.

 It was a very different kind of soundtrack Cabaret Voltaire’s original trio had provided for Johnny Yesno, Sheffield-based director Peter Care’s sickly-looking neon-soaked miniature noir, made in 1979. The film was based around the eponymous Johnny’s dark night of the soul as he goes on the run in a hallucinatory world of untouchable women and sleazy hotel rooms. The Cabs provided a suitably queasy title sequence, a hallucination sequence and a track called Quarry. Even heard without the film, on tracks like Taxi Music, the Johnny Yesno soundtrack album released in 1983, suggested the camera was forever in motion, giving brooding chase all the way to the end credits. 



 Two new Kirk/Mallinder compositions - Jesus Saves and Twanky Party – saw Cabaret Voltaire eventually appear on the soundtrack of Salvation! Subtitled Have You Said Your Prayers Today?, Salvation! was made in 1987. The film starred Viggo Mortensen and Excene Cervenka, vocalist with Los Angeles punk band, X, in a wild tale about a young woman who hooks up with a money-crazed TV evangelist and becomes a heavy-metal Christian rock star.

 ‘SEX. POWER. MONEY. It’s all in the name of God!’ went the film’s tag-line. Such a minimalist proclamation could have been lifted from a Cabaret Voltaire lyric. This seemed to be borne out by the appearance of Sex, Money, Freaks, a track from Cabaret Voltaire’s Code album, released the same year.

 Salvation! was the brainchild of American director Beth Billingsly, aka Beth B, who had come through the New York No Wave scene, filming bands and performance artists on Super 8 film in a rough and ready fashion. Billingsly’s fictions occupied a sleazy punk dystopia, with many musicians and artists appearing in them. These included John Lurie, Judy Nylon and Lydia Lunch. In The Trap Door (1980), Jack Smith, who had worked with Chance Versus Causality director Babeth Mondini-VanLoo, appeared. Mondini-VanLoo would go on to direct Lunch in Kiss Napoleon Goodbye.

 Co-producers of Salvation! included co-founder of Les Disques du Crepuscule, Michel Duval, and Michael H. Shamberg. Not to be confused with Michael Shamberg, producer of the likes of Reality Bites, Pulp Fiction and Man on the Moon, Michael H. Shamberg was best known for his videos for New Order, including those for Blue Monday and True Faith. New Order also featured on the Salvation! soundtrack.

 If Cabaret Voltaire’s own auteurish inclinations were captured on Kino, the opening track of 1985’s Drinking Gasoline double 12-inch EP, which took its name from the German word  for cinema, they would reach their logical conclusion in 1994 with The Conversation. By this time, it was solely Kirk keeping the CV flame burning on what would be the final album of original Cabaret Voltaire material released  under the name for fourteen years. The album title appeared to reference Coppola’s film of the same name, which had seen Walter Murch co-nominated for the Best Sound Oscar. Arriving in the midst of the Watergate era, and utilising Murch’s sound montages, Coppola created a big-screen meditation on the sort of surveillance culture Cabaret Voltaire had tapped into from the start.

 Either way, the 53-minute-long Project80, which makes up the bulk of the second CD of The Conversation’s 2-CD set, samples extensively from Ken Russell’s 1980 big-screen adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s hallucinogenic novel, Altered States. Project80 also samples speech and sound effects from Forbidden Planet, the 1956 sci-fi reimagining of William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. The film featured a futuristic soundscape by husband and wife composers, Louis and Bebe Barron, who were credited as providing ‘electronic tonalities.’ Towards the end of Project80, text from cyberpunk novelist William Gibson’s book, Mona Lisa Overdrive, is also used.



 It was Peter Care, however, who ramped up CV’s visual aesthetic by way of videos he made for the band. Care’s early efforts for the tracks Invocation, Loosen the Clamp and Yashar were included on the original Johnny Yesno VHS. Care went on to direct clips for Crackdown and Just Fascination, both from the 1983 album, The Crackdown. The same year, Care directed Resistance for CV’s Sheffield peers, Clock DVA, whose driving force Adi Newton was also flirting with major record label subversion.

 Care’s video for Cabaret Voltaire’s 1984 single, Sensoria, from the duo’s Micro-Phonies album, ended up infiltrating a still young MTV, founded in 1981, to become the most requested independent music video on the channel. The Los Angeles Times voted Sensoria best video of 1985, and in a pre-internet age, Care’s video was later bought by the New York Museum of Modern Art.

 The extent of Cabaret Voltaire’s reach at this stage can be gleaned by the sighting of a poster for Micro-Phonies on the bedroom wall of Matthew Broderick’s eponymous teen slacker in John Hughes’ 1986 film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

 Such commercial acceptance didn’t stop CV’s attempts to subvert the mainstream further. The lyrics of 1987 single, Don’t Argue, taken from Code, ironically incorporated the narration of Frank Capra’s short film, Your Job in Germany. The film was made in 1945 for the American military film unit, and warned against fraternisation with the German people. Written by Theodor S. Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, it was criticised by some as being anti-German. Both writer and director went uncredited.

 Care directed the video for Don’t Argue, as well as for two more for Cabaret Voltaire singles, I Want You in 1985, and Hypnotised in 1989. Inbetween, he oversaw clips for Scritti Politti, ABC, Public Image Limited, New Order and REM. He would later make others for the likes of Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen, and directed REM concert film, Road Movie, in 1996. In 2002, he directed a feature film, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, and an episode of funeral parlour set comedy drama series, Six Feet Under.

 The long-term effect of Sensoria in all its forms, be they aural, visual, remixed, remade and remodelled, were yet to come. In 2008, the annual Sensoria Music & Film Festival was founded in Sheffield, birthplace of Cabaret Voltaire. Taking a multi-media ethos into the twenty-first century, the first year of Sensoria showed music-based films such as Tony Palmer’s Wigan Casino documentary and cult classics such as The Shining. These were shown alongside live shows by neglected Sheffield band, The Comsat Angels. Over the next decade, gusts at Sensoria have included Bill Drummond, Laurie Anderson and Jarvis Cocker.

 In 2011, Care and Cabaret Voltaire released Johnny Yesno Redux, a 2-DVD and 2-CD box set containing the original film, plus what was effectively a remake by Care that transposed the action from Sheffield to a Californian hotel room. With the 15-minute film executive produced by Kirk, the first DVD of the box set also featured Care’s videos for Invocation, Loosen the Clamp and Yashar, plus three other Johnny Yesno-related shorts.

 As well as featuring Care’s new version of Johnny Yesno, the second DVD contained seventeen shorts using footage from the film as well as offcuts set to assorted remixes of Cabaret Voltaire material by Kirk. These were featured on the collection’s two audio CDs, with some 140 minutes of music featured. Accompanying this is The image Demands to be Heard, an essay by writer and ex Biting Tongue, Ken Hollings, the artist formerly known as Capalula.


The Unfilmables

 Fast forward to 2017, and a band called Wrangler have been commissioned by Live Cinema UK in association with various partners to take part in an event called The Unfilmables. Wrangler consist of former Cabaret Voltaire bassist and vocalist, Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter of folktronica sextet, Tunng, and electronic producer Ben Edwards, aka Benge. At the time, Wrangler had made their mark with LA Spark, their debut album, released in 2014. This set the tone for the albums of cyber-sexual sci-fi techno that followed; White Glue (2016), Sparked (Modular Remix Project) (2016).

 For The Unfilmables, they were tasked to provide a new soundtrack for a film that was never made. The film is – or more accurately, isn’t - The Tourist,  a legendary science-fiction script  created by writer Clair Noto, but lost in the limbo of development hell. Noto had worked as a writer on Marvel’s female sword and sorcery comic book, Red Sonja. In film, she worked in the sound department on future Stop Making Sense director Jonathan Demme’s debut 1974 feature, Caged Heat, about a group of women convicts who rise up to take on the prison warden’s oppressive regime.

 The same year, Noto worked as uncredited dialogue editor on Peter Davis’ Vietnam War-based documentary, Hearts and Minds. As well as featuring original interviews, Davis used archive newsreel footage to give an alternative view of Vietnam, and expose how institutionalised American racism and over-riding militarism prolonged the war.

 Noto had written a script for what was described as a ‘female James Bond’ film. While this was never made, it got her an in with producer Sean Daniel, who commissioned her to develop The Tourist.

 Set in what would have then been a run-down Manhattan in New York, The Tourist focuses on a thirty-something  woman named Grace Ripley. Ripley is one of thousands of exiled and sexually charged aliens who have taken on human form while trying to get back to their home planet after being dumped on Earth, which they regard as a cesspool. As Ripley explains to a human she befriends, she comes from “a planet of information and erotica,” and is able to use her highly-charged libido to her advantage. In human form, however, touching people weakens her, and when she is aroused, a cocoon builds around her body.

 Going deep into the city’s actual underground as much as a metaphorical post-punk one, The Tourist takes Ripley to an establishment calling itself The Manhattan Grief Clinic. Beneath this, she discovers a network of cubicles called The Corridor. This is a concentration camp of sorts, where ‘the unwanted of several galaxies’ congregate.

 As outlined in David Hughes’ book, The Greatest Sci-Fi Films Never Made, originally published in 2001 and updated in its 2008 edition, Noto drew inspiration from Robert Wise’s 1951 sci-fi film, The Day the Earth Stood Still. Adapted from Farewell to the Master, a short story by Harry Bates, and scripted by Edmund H. North, Wise’s Bernard Herrmann soundtracked film sees an alien called Klaatu arrive on earth, taking on human form as he warns the world of the perils of war.

 On a practical level, the device of having aliens hiding in plain sight as humans saved on a monster-shaped budget that would have otherwise rendered space invaders as grotesque figures. The seeming ordinariness of extra-terrestrials walking among us also added an extra dimension. As Noto told Hughes, “I almost saw the aliens as existential Parisians sitting around in clubs and cafes…”

 Noto also fed into her script her response to a photograph by Helmut Newton in his first collection, White Women, published in 1973. The picture, called Lisa Running, sees model Lisa Taylor running seemingly terrified across a lawn and away from a hotel-like building while wearing a semi-transparent chiffon dress. Behind her, she is pursued by a haze of disembodied neon lights. What she is running away from was something the viewer can only imagine. Noto darkened all this with an emphasis on Ripley’s alienation and sexual frustration of an infinitely more human kind.

 Director Brian Gibson, who had just overseen Breaking Glass, the post-punk vehicle for singer Hazel O’Connor, was initially mooted to be taking charge of the film, which was set to go into production in 1980. This was a year after Cabaret Voltaire recorded Chance Versus Causality.

 As it was, Noto’s proposed film went through a complex and at times seemingly fractious merry-go-round between studios. Those involved at various points included Francis Ford Coppola’s doomed American Zoetrope company, Quadrophenia director Franc Roddam and producer Michael Shamberg.

 Through all this, Noto remained fiercely protective of her original script’s uncompromising fusion of sex and sci-fi. Key to the project’s look at one point was H.R. Giger, the Zurich-based artist and designer who had worked on Alien with director Ridley Scott. The main character of Scott’s film, played by Sigourney Weaver, was also called Ripley.

 Some of Giger’s designs for the Tourist were eventually published in Cinemafantastique magazine. As with Noto’s numerous scripts, none of them ever came to anything.

 In Noto’s story of existential loneliness, otherness and the need to connect through transgressive and taboo-busting notions of sexuality in a world that exists outside mainstream norms, Ripley is a recognisable cipher. In another world, she might have found kindred spirits among the proto-Dadaists at the original Cabaret Voltaire club, The Beach, Plato’s Ballroom or the early days of the Hacienda, all gateways to the sorts of unknown pleasures Cabaret Voltaire provoked.

 If The Tourist had been a no-budget lo-fi affair a la Johnny Yesno or something Mondini-VanLoo or Beth B might have made rather than the high-end studio folly it became, Noto’s vision might have come to fruition. As it is, her adult sci-fi remains in cinema limbo, with rumours persisting that it is still in development.

 For The Unfilmables, Wrangler took advantage of the intangible, ghost-like mythology surrounding the film, teaming up with film-maker Tash Tung and visual artist Daniel Conway to reimagine The Tourist for twenty-first century London.

 Following dates in Brighton and Manchester, Wrangler’s take on The Tourist was scheduled to be presented at the 2018 Glasgow Film Festival. This was set to be part of a double bill with The Colour of Chips, Mica Levis’s northern English reworking of Armenian film-maker Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates. In an interview with the Herald in February 2018, Mallinder expressed a connection with science-fiction film  soundtracks real and imagined.

 “If you’re going to do a live soundtrack,” he said,  “you want to do it to a science-fiction film.”

 Mallinder was perhaps thinking here of Earthshaker, CV’s own unfilmed sci-fi flick with Peter Care. As he also observes, just as sci-fi on film expands the mind through visual means, so too does it inspire the sonic imagination. Think of Asian Dub Foundation’s live soundtrack for George Lucas’s pre-Star Wars debut feature, THX 1138, which they toured in 2015 following its premiere in New York the year before. The radical punk-dub fusion veterans had previous form with live soundtracks to La Haine and The Battle of Algiers, and here excised Walter Murch’s soundscape to THX 1138’s dystopian narrative he co-penned with Lucas for a more full-on approach.

 Think too of Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent dystopian masterpiece, Metropolis, which features visuals that might have inspired H.R. Giger. This is something the Alien Explorations blog has speculated on, specifically referencing Giger’s 1977 painting, The Spell IV.

 The original soundtrack for Metropolis was provided by German composer Gottfried Huppertz. Since then, Lang’s film has been the subject of several new scores by contemporary composers. In 1975, the BBC produced a new electronic soundscape for the film by William Fitzwater and Hugh Davies. Giorgio Moroder went on to produce an all-star pop soundtrack for the release of his restored version of the film in 1984. Sixteen years later, Detroit techno DJ and producer Jeff Mills composed and performed his own soundtrack for the film.

 In 2012, the late Dieter Moebius offered up his version. The Swiss-born electronic composer had formed one half of Cluster alongside Hans-Joachim Roedelius, with the duo joined by Michael Rother of Neu! as Harmonia. In 2018, nouveau electronicists Factory Floor presented their soundtrack to Metropolis at the London Science Museum as part of the museum’s Robot exhibition. All of which is in keeping with Wrangler’s perhaps less obvious look at the Tourist.

 “I think Benge has always wanted to do something with Logan’s Run,” Mallinder told the Herald, referring to Michael Anderson’s 1976 feature, adapted from William F. Nolan’s novel, “because it’s his favourite film.”

 Anderson directed Logan’s Run a year after overseeing Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, his campy big screen version of Lester Dent’s 1930s pulp fiction series, written under the name of Kenneth Robeson. Anderson would go on to direct the 1980 TV adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.

 “One of the early ideas,” Mallinder continued, “was to work with the original version of Dune, or do an imagined version of David Lynch directing The Empire Strikes Back, but when I got a copy of the screenplay for The Tourist, it was such an amazing story that we went for that.”

 H.R. Giger had provided designs for Alexander Jodorowsky’s proposed film of Dune, though when David Lynch brought his version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Giger’s work wasn’t used.

 Wrangler’s cinematic sensibility is as prevalent as that inherent in Cabaret Voltaire. This is evident in Theme for Wrangler, the opening track of LA Spark. Since working on The Tourist, another album, A Situation (2020), expands the band’s palette to something even more widescreen than their previous records.



 What Noto did next beyond The Tourist is hard to work out. Of her few credits in the public domain, it is known she went on to write an episode of 1980s animated girl-band children’s adventure series, Jem, aka Jem and the Holograms. Noto’s season three-episode, Beauty and the Rock Promoter, saw Jem and the band cast in a London rock opera production of Beauty and the Beast by an in-debt promoter and club owner. Interestingly, this episode pre-dated Disney’s animated feature version of Beauty and the Beast by three years. One of Noto’s only other known writing credits was an episode of 1990s American erotic horror anthology series, The Hunger.

 What Noto might have made of Wrangler’s take on The Tourist isn’t known. Their reimagining of her script seemed similarly jinxed, alas, when the Glasgow Film Festival performance had to be cancelled after Scotland was hit by nationwide snowfalls. This effectively closed down the country, leaving the snowbound landscape in an eerie silence that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a science-fiction film. 



 Mallinder’s road from Cabaret Voltaire to Wrangler has taken a circuitous path. Like Kirk, he released solo material while CV was ongoing, with his 1983 album, Pow-Wow, later expanded and rejigged as Pow-Wow Plus with the inclusion of tracks from Mallinder’s 1981 single, Temperature Drop. In 1988 he recorded as Love Street with Robert Gordon, plus Dave Ball from Soft Cell.

 The last vocal by Mallinder to be heard on a Cabaret Voltaire record came on their 1991 album, Body and Soul, released on Les Disques du Crepuscule. While Mallinder shared a co-writing credit with Kirk on The Conversation, as he did with its predecessors during this final phase of CV, Plasticity (1992) and International Language (1993), The Conversation is effectively a Kirk solo record.

 Mallinder moved to Australia, where he worked as a journalist before forming Ku-Ling Brothers with Shane Norton, releasing Creach in 1999. Having also established his own Off-World Sounds label, Mallinder teamed up with Steve Cobby of Fila Brazillia as Barney Mulhouse. He also joined forces with Travis Calley, who recorded as Yummy Fur (no relation to the Scottish band of the same name). As Sassi and Loco, Calley and Mallinder released the Boom Claat album in 2001.

 Mallinder and Norton  collaborated with Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder, releasing one album in 2003 as Amateur Night in the Big Top. Ryder also appeared on the second Ku-Ling Brothers album, Here Come the Astronauts, in 2008. Having returned to the UK, Mallinder realigned with Cobby, this time as Hey, Rube!, releasing their debut album, Can You Hear Me Mutha?, in 2012.

 Since his return to the UK, Mallinder has become a professor on the Digital Music and Sound Art course at the University of Brighton. As well as their own releases, Wrangler joined forces with John Grant as Creep Show, releasing Mr Dynamite in 2018. In 2020, as well as a re-release of his 1983 solo album, Pow Wow, the new material on Um Dada draws from similar source material.

 Um Dada, Mallinder said, “is about ‘play’ – cut and paste, lost words, twisted pre-sets, voice collage, simple sounds – things that have been lost to technology’s current determinism. Let the machines talk to each other, let them dance.. they lead, we follow.”

 With Wrangler’s Glasgow Film Festival appearance scuppered by the weather, Creep Show were similarly jinxed when a scheduled  appearance at the 2020 Edinburgh International Festival was cancelled along with the rest of the Festival after all mass gatherings were shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This left the entire world acting out the plot of a 1970’s sci-fi script.



 Such environmental interventions are actually more in keeping with the post-Cabaret Voltaire work of Chris Watson, whose soundtrack work has eclipsed that of his former band-mates in a global fashion.

 When it was announced in October 1981 that Watson was leaving Cabaret Voltaire to become a sound recordist at Tyne Tees Television, the ITV regional channel that covered the north-east of England, it didn’t compute. Eh? A sound recordist? On the telly? What was that, anyway? Holding big furry boom mics up, and stuff? Why would he want to do that when he was in Cabaret Voltaire? What a sell-out, packing up being a sonic provocateur to go and get a proper job.

 It felt like Watson had been lost to the straight world forever. He was the one who was arguably the most experimental of Cabaret Voltaire’s three members, after all, to the extent of being credited as providing ‘electronics and tape.’ This was an obsession developed from an early age. As Watson explained when he was a guest on a 2017 edition of BBC Radio 3’s My Classical Favourites, he had been given a tape recorder as a child, and took to recording both indoors and outdoors.

 Watson also heard French composer Pierre Schaeffer’s experiments in music concrete and environmental sound, which influenced his work, both with Cabaret Voltaire and as a sound recordist let loose in the wild. 

 After departing Cabaret Voltaire, Watson became a founding member of another experimental outfit, The Hafler Trio. Never actually a trio, the group was formed with Andrew McKenzie, who would become The Hafler Trio’s sole constant across an astonishing array of limited-edition micro-releases. These document numerous collaborations, ranging from Genesis P-Orridge to Manchester electronic duo, Autechre, the latter of whom would record for the Warp label.

 During Watson’s time as a member, The Hafler Trio made several albums of experimentally inclined cut and paste. Following a cassette-only release, their first vinyl record, “BANG!” – An Open Letter, was released in 1984 on Cabaret Voltaire’s Doublevision imprint.

 Since departing The Hafler Trio, from the late 1980s, Watson has been a dedicated sound recordist, primarily on environmental and nature-based documentaries. He has worked extensively with David Attenborough on The Life of Mammals (2002-2003), Life in the Undergrowth (2005), Frozen Planet (2011) and Seven Worlds, One Planet (2019).

 Watson has also worked with Bill Oddie and Chris Packham on Springwatch, as well as other programmes with Oddie, who described Watson on a 2008 edition of teatime chat show Richard and Judy as being ‘rock-and-roll’.  Watson’s work with Attenborough, meanwhile, has seen him win two BAFTAs for Best Factual Sound, first in 1996 for The Life of Birds, then in 2012 for Frozen Planet.

 Since the mid-1990s, Watson has released a stream of field recordings  primarily on the Touch label. Sourced from around the globe, these include his 2003 record, Weather Report, named as the Guardian newspaper as one of the thousand albums you should hear before you die. Watson has collaborated with other Touch-based artists including Philip Jeck, Fennesz, Biosphere and B.J. Nilsen.

 In 2010, Watson devised an art project at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, using recordings made by children to keep other young patients calm as they received treatment. Plato’s Ballroom it wasn’t.

 Jump cut to April 2011, and I’m on a train to North Berwick with Watson and a group of University of Edinburgh sound recordists, eagerly putting contact mics on the wall of the train carriage to pick up its unique reverberations. Watson is giving a performance later in the week at the University’s Informatics Centre at the end of a week’s residency, and this field trip will form the basis of the students’ work.

 Inbetween amplifying seaweed and suchlike, in an on-site interview published in the Herald newspaper, Watson talks about the late Martin Hannett. Factory Records’ mercurial in-house producer used the studio and the environment around it as an instrument on records including Joy Division’s debut album, Unknown Pleasures.

 “He was a genius producer,” Watson says of Hannett. “I went out recording with him once, and I learnt a lot from the experience.”

 Watson talks too about Walter Murch, and the roots of the artform he invented.

 “He couldn’t get a union ticket as a sound recordist,” Watson says of Murch, “so the only way he could get in was to invent the term, sound designer.”

 To listen to Watson’s voice is itself an experience in sound. His passion for what he does shines through his Yorkshire lilt in a way that soothes and inspires, gathering the listener up to show them the sonic wonders of the world. In North Berwick, Watson talked about being in Ghana, when “this man comes right up close to me, and he goes, ‘are you recording the air? Good!’ and he wanders off. Then this little girl came up to me, pointed at my recorder, and just went, ‘sound photo.’”



 Fourteen months after their Plato’s Ballroom show, Cabaret Voltaire returned to Liverpool on June 12th 1982. Supported by Eric Random, this was at a venue called the Warehouse. As the name suggests, what by then has become the city’s main small venue was a large black-painted former store-room in the centre of town. I can’t remember what the ticket for the gig was like, but it certainly wasn’t a gay fanzine that came under plain cover in a plastic bag.

 Now without Watson, and augmented by a real live drummer, the new Kirk/Mallinder line-up were an altogether funkier proposition than the Cabaret Voltaire of old. The provocations and paranoia were still there, but the sound had more muscle, somehow. This might have had something to do with Mallinder’s gulping slap-bass funk, which felt more to the fore alongside the electronics, treated voices and samples. A live drummer played on several tracks too, giving things a more human pulse

 This made for an intense and concentrated experience, with the previous summer’s Eddie’s Out/Walls of Jericho single remodelled as Eddie’s Back and Walls of Merseyside to top and tail a set pulled largely from non-album and unreleased cuts. Walls of Jericho would be similarly customised for each venue, including as Walls of Sheffield for a home-coming gig later that August. Four days prior to the Liverpool Warehouse show, Cabaret Voltaire played the Venue. As listed alongside the recording of the gig, which appeared on the Archive (Live 1982-1986) compilation released in 2009, it became Walls of Dada.

 Over and Over wouldn’t be heard in its studio incarnation until The Crackdown was released a year later. Only This is Entertainment from The Voice of America was retained from the Plato’s Ballroom set. A hitherto unreleased track called You Can See it was followed by Gut Level, which would provide the flip-side of 1983 Les Disques du Crepuscule single, Fool’s Game.

 Diskono would eventually be heard on the Doublevision 12-inch that came with initial copies of The Crackdown, while Yashar had appeared on 2x45 prior to its 1983 stand-alone release in remixed form on 12-inch the following year.

 Despite the personnel changes, Cabaret Voltaire remained as uncompromising as ever. The climax of the set came during Walls of Merseyside, when the track’s already piercing relentlessness was accompanied by relentless use of a strobe light. In the Warehouse’s black box environment, the rapid-fire pulse of the light was heightened to a potentially hazardous degree. This caused my mate who I’d gone to the gig with to retreat to the back of the room to avoid any danger of a headache, an epileptic fit or both. The glacial instrumental loops of a short piece called DV Decay 2 ended the night.

 The Liverpool Warehouse performance of Gut Level was released on a flexi-disc given away free with independent label magazine, Masterbag. A recording of the full gig eventually appeared on the 3-CD live compilation, Archive #828285 Live, released in 2013.



 While all this was going on, I was hanging round with a mate who played drums with a heavy metal band, who would pore over the lyrics of Canadian rock band Rush’s Ayn Rand inspired 1976 sci-fi concept album, 2112, at length. He would also play me Xanadu, from the band’s studio follow-up, A Farewell to Kings, which took from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, Kubla Khan.

 In return, I must have played him Cabaret Voltaire at some point. I remember his response was to point out that music based solely on rhythm alone would never work. I’ve often wondered how acid house and everything that followed worked out for him.

 Cabaret Voltaire, after all, were key progenitors of the nascent machine-age dance culture that would eventually explode into the acid house revolution. CV had flirted with the idea of dance long before this. It was there on their first Rough Trade single, Extended Play, on a black-humoured track called Do the Mussolini (Headkick). This took the image of the Italian dictator and his brutal treatment of dissenters and, recognising its brutal choreography, turned it into a deadly ironic commentary on the absurdism inherent within fascist ideology.

 Before Do the Mussolini (Headkick), there was Do the Snake, which appeared on 1974-76. Opening like an offcut from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, it quickly perked up to mash up samples from a real-life 1950s novelty dance record. This new spin on things is a fine example of some of the rarely recognised humour running throughout the band’s early work.

 Unconsciously or not, Cabaret Voltaire’s work was driven too by the industrial rhythms sired in the pounding repetition of factory machinery. As artist Jeremy Deller pointed out in his 2019 filmic dissection of late twentieth century rave culture, Everybody in the Place – An Incomplete History of Britain, once mass unemployment left these factories abandoned, they would later become co-opted as ad hoc venues for the new wave of illegal club nights. Here, rhythms and beats created by cheap new technology drew similarly unconsciously from those used in the production lines of the factories’ past lives.

 This new pop culture revolution had its roots too in the ideas and influences that drew from Dada, and  were mashed up at The Beach and Plato’s Ballroom. The most thrilling example of this came whenever The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel was played at Plato’s. Released in 1981, the record is a mix of samples that draws from Chic’s Good Times, Rapture by Blondie and Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust among others to create an infectious and irresistible dance-floor friendly collage.



 Hip hop was coming up from the multi-cultural New York underground just as disco, soul, funk and jazz had before it. Bands such as A Certain Ratio had already visited New York, and had witnessed the musical melting pot that existed in clubs such as Hurrah and Dancetaria. ACR’s percussive experiments were filmed by Michael H. Shamberg as Tribeca, and played live at Plato’s Ballroom shortly afterwards. The global village was getting groovier by the minute.

 The first real sign of Cabaret Voltaire shifting gears came in May 1983 with a 12-inch reworking of Yashar. This was a track first heard on the band’s 2x45 set, released a year earlier. By this time, Watson had left the band for Tyne Tees, and the three tracks recorded in October 1981 that appeared on the first 12-inch – Breathe Deep, Yashar and Protection -  marked his final appearance on new material as a member of Cabaret Voltaire. The three tracks on the second 45 – War of Nerves (TE.S.), Wait and Shuffle and Get Out of My Face - were recorded in February 1982, and heralded the debut of Cabaret Voltaire as a duo of Kirk and Mallinder.

 Significantly, perhaps, Yashar is a Turkish-Persian name that means immortal. Now here was Cabaret Voltaire’s Yashar having a second life. The 12-inch was remixed by John Robie, who worked with Arthur Baker on Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force’s pioneering 1982 electro hit, Planet Rock. Here, Bambaataa and co fused hip hop, rap and the keyboard melody of Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express to create a sonic collage that effectively kick-started a new genre.




 The original version of Yashar was built on a sample from Demon with a Glass Hand, an episode from 1960s sci-fi anthology series, The Outer Limits. Robie’s remixes stayed true to its spirit, but ramped things up enough to offer up possibilities of industrial-dance-pop abandon.

 Yashar was released, not on Rough Trade, but on Factory. Connections with the Manchester-based label had been there since Cabaret Voltaire’s first vinyl outing on A Factory Sample. This was the double 7-inch, four-artist showcase they shared with Joy Division, The Durutti Column and John Dowie. Cabaret Voltaire provided two tracks, Baader Meinhof and Sex in Secret. CV were part of Factory history even before that, when the Peter Saville-designed poster for their 1978 gig at the Factory club with Joy Division and The Tiller Boys had been catalogued as Fac 3. This was despite having only been delivered by Saville after the gig had happened.

 Things had moved on considerably, however, both for the label and the band. With Factory’s own New Order having released Blue Monday in March, the indie-dance crossover was already in motion. Blue Monday would become the biggest selling 12-inch single ever, raising the bar considerably for their contemporaries.

 Other than their early records being overseen by Rough Trade’s informal producing duo of label boss Geoff Travis and Mayo Thompson of rebooted 1960s agit-absurdists the Red Crayola, Yashar was the first time CV had brought in outside producers. While hardly a floor-filler, the move paid off, with Yashar becoming a club favourite of sorts.

 Kirk and Mallinder moved from Rough Trade to Some Bizzare, which was licensed through Virgin. For purists, going from Rough Trade to a major label might have been considered even more of a sell-out than Watson’s departure to Tyne Tees. For others, the monochrome indie years were spent, and an excursion into a more colourful and more hedonistic world was a necessary leap into the light.

 This era chimed with the rise of a free market economy ushered in by Margaret Thatcher, and became part of an attempt at pop entryism, as major labels bank-rolled a host of independent post-punk artists. Many were given expensive producer-led make-overs. Chasing the commercial dragon in this way too often blunted edges and blanded out what had previously made those artists so special.

 Cabaret Voltaire’s new sense of widescreen ambition may have had one eye on crossing over to the mainstream, but they managed to work within the system with little compromise. Both The Crackdown (1983) and Micro-Phonies (1984) were produced by Flood, and put Mallinder’s breathy vocal more to the fore of each album’s pulsebeat. This approach paid off with the release of Sensoria as a single, with its subsequent success enabled in part by Care’s video.

 Inbetween those two albums, the Johnny Yesno soundtrack was released. Recorded as a trio with Watson, the record was a flashback to more experimental times, and exposed how far they’d travelled. Had Watson been holding Kirk and Mallinder back from moving into more commercial subversion? Or had his departure simply enabled the duo to cut loose and extend their aesthetic by absorbing what was in the air anyway?

 While 1985’s The Covenant, The Sword and The Arm of the Lord stripped things down to CV’s core duo free of external input, Code (1987) was co-produced with Adrian Sherwood, while 1990’s Groovy, Laidback and Nasty album was recorded in Chicago with House producer Marshall Jefferson. Others to remix Cabaret Voltaire on assorted club-friendly 12-inchers included Francois Kevorkian, Phil Harding, Paul Oakenfield and Robert Gordon.

 The shift in the musical landscape throughout the 1980s was described best by New Order drummer Stephen Morris in The Hacienda Must Be Built!, the Jon Savage edited oral history of Factory’s fun palace, published in 1992. In his interview, Morris talked of how the club was initially empty on most nights, before returning from being on tour to find the place packed.

 “Not just that it was packed,” Morris said, “but packed with a good meaty vibe, as it was. That was my fondest memory of it. Going back and seeing people enjoying themselves, instead of sitting in corners, scowling over their pints.”

 The next two pages in the book are filled with a black and white photograph that looks like the dour ‘Before’ half of a Before and After display.


Spread the Virus

 Over the next decade, despite The Conversation seemingly putting a full stop on musical output, Cabaret Voltaire’s influence continued to spread outwards amongst ever newer generations looking to the post-punk era for exciting sounds to transform and deform.

 Not so much a cover as a reconstruction of Nag Nag Nag by German industrialists Einsturzende Neubaten, released in 1993 on Italian arthouse label Stampa Alternativain 1993, set the tone.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and Kevorkian, Harding, Oakenfield and Gordon’s assorted 12-inch reconstructions of CV are collected on the 2001 Remixed compilation alongside Kirk and Mallinder’s takes on three pieces by Jefferson.

 Meanwhile, at an Edinburgh club night called Gulag Beat, art school boys and girls dance wildly to Nag Nag Nag. By this time, the song has transcended its roots to become part of some loose-knit post-punk canon. In 2002, the original is re-released alongside a new mix by Kirk, plus one by producers Tiga and Zyntherius, and another by Akufen.


 Nag Nag Nag

 Nag Nag Nag was also used as the name of a successful London club night, founded in 2002 by Jonny Slut, formerly of 1980s Goth band, Specimen. The club ran in the late Simon Hobart’s Ghetto club, in a basement behind the Astoria in London. Slut’s night took its moves from the fall-out of electroclash, which fused 1980s synth-pop, techno, punk and live art into a flamboyant and eclectic club culture mash-up.

 Hedonistic and sexually progressive, Nag Nag Nag was a cyberpunk heaven that fell somewhere between Warhol’s Factory, The Beach and Plato’s Ballroom, but free from the uptight existential angst of them all. This was entertainment for reals.

 Cabaret Voltaire’s Nag Nag Nag appeared on a double CD compilation of music played at the club, and released in 2003. New remixes of Yashar appeared elsewhere the same year, while Liverpool-sired synthesiser-led quartet Ladytron took to closing their live sets with a cover of Nag Nag Nag.

 Nag Nag Nag the club gave rise to a record label, NagNagNag, founded by Slut and another DJ, Fil OK. As Atomizer, the duo released material produced by Jimmy Cauty, whose own adventures in dance music with The KLF during the 1980s and early 1990s subverted the mainstream on a massive scale. Nag Nag Nag the club lasted six years until 2008, the same year Richard H Kirk appeared at an Edinburgh club called Cabaret Voltaire.




 Kirk’s own trip has seen him take on multiple identities before coming full circle as Cabaret Voltaire.  He had been releasing solo material as far back as 1980, when his Disposable Half-Truths album was put out on cassette by Industrial Records. Several more records followed during Cabaret Voltaire’s lifetime, both under Kirk’s own name, and, in partnership with Richard Barratt, as Sweet Exorcist. The duo’s first single, Testone (1990), was the third release on Warp Records, the Sheffield-based label which championed a new generation of electronic artists including Nightmares on Wax, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. More recently, Warp has provided a home for Brian Eno.

 Helping to define what came to be known as bleep techno, Testone sampled Yellow Magic Orchestra’s 1978 single, Computer Game, as well as Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster 1977 sci-fi film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Betweeen 1991 and 1994, Sweet Exorcist released several other records on Warp, collected on the 2011 compilation, RetroActivity. Kirk also released records during that period under the names Sandoz and Electronic Eye.

 Once Cabaret Voltaire seemingly ended following the release of The Conversation, Kirk’s output increased, with material put out both under his own name and forty-odd aliases. The undercover anonymity of this was in keeping with an incognito approach in the underground club scene. It suited him.



 Working in arguably more conceptual territory than NagNagNag, another record label called itself Diskono, after the penultimate track on The Crackdown. Founded in the late 1990s as ‘a Scottish multimedia cabal masquerading as a record label’, Diskono released work by electronic auteurs including Janek Schaefer and Felix Kubin. The label was last sighted in 2008 with the release of 1:17, a conceptual 12-inch by Scott Haggart described as being ‘psychotopologically derived from a 0.7 millisecond recorded extract of a DISKONO performance (2000).’ On the flip-side, six other artists created their own versions of the track, each lasting 1:17 in duration as part of what might be regarded as a sound art work.



 Mallinder too was attracting attention from a new wave of electronic artists tapping into Cabaret Voltaire’s early catalogue.  In 2010, Hamburg-born singer Billie Ray Martin released  The Crackdown Project, Volumes 1 and 2. Martin had been weaned on electronica in Berlin during the early 1980s before scoring club hits in the UK with Electribe 101 and S’Express and carving out a successful solo career.

 Working with Berlin tech-house artist Maertini Broes, UK Nu-Disco producer Lusty Zanzibar and a host of remixers, Martin added sex, sass and soul to the already hypnotic title track of CV’s 1983 album and its breakout single, Just Fascination. With Volume 1 of The Crackdown Project subtitled Sold Out to Disco, Volume 2 was dubbed Darkness Restored. Martin enlisted Mallinder himself to provide his first recorded vocal for years. In all, some 22 mixes were released on Martin’s Disco-Activisto label, which she reactivated for the occasion.

 One of the mixes on The Crackdown Project was provided by 3kStatic, aka Dean Capone,  Justin Katz and Jeremy Dickens. Active since 1998, the trio draw directly from the influences of Cabaret Voltaire and 1980s electronica. In 2013, again with Mallinder on board providing a new vocal, 3kStatic released a version of Nag Nag Nag, featuring three different mixes.

 The following year, Mallinder appeared alongside Israeli minimal techno producer, Dub Mentor, aka Lior Suliman, for a single featuring  three new versions of Voice of America era Cabaret Voltaire track, Obsession. The original had been in the Plato’s Ballroom set back in 1981. With computer generated sounds wilfully avoided, alongside Mallinder’s new vocal, Suliman’s new take on the song added soprano singer Hila Baggio, percussionist Noa Vax, drummer Issar Tennenbaum and trumpeter Tal Weiss. 



 Around the same time as Kirk played Cabaret Voltaire, the club hosted a Thursday night called Spies in the Wires. Those behind it had clearly been savvy enough to make connections, naming their night after a track on Micro-Phonies. Spies in the Wires in Cabaret Voltaire? It was electric.

 On a larger scale, the founding of Sensoria Music & Film Festival in Sheffield in 2008 was a major sign of Cabaret Voltaire’s influence. Where Sheffield was once a post-industrial wasteland, now it was alive to the possibilities of multi-media mash-ups on a global scale.

 The success of Warp Records, the electronic record label also founded in Sheffield and inspired by the city’s late 1970s and 1980s music scene spearheaded by Cabaret Voltaire  proved that. While Warp would score major success with The Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, it released several records by Kirk in various guises.



Sensoria too was inspired by the city’s electronic experiments of thirty years earlier by the likes of the Human League and Cabaret Voltaire. Naming Sensoria after CV’s MTV-friendly crossover single, the event has hosted the likes of Laurie Anderson and Bill Drummond alongside a new generation of artists such as Factory Floor and Lonelady.

 Closer to home, Creep Show played in 2019, while Wrangler appeared twice at the festival. The first time, in 2014, they supported Carter Tutti, the ongoing alliance of former Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti. The second, in 2016, they headlined, the same year both Blancmange and Michael Rother of Neu! and Harmonia appeared.

 Kirk himself played Sensoria as Cabaret Voltaire it the very first Sensoria in 2008, when he presented a multi-media piece, Subduing Demons in Charter Square. The virus had spread a long way from seedy nightclubs that became experiments in pop cultural subversion.


 Creep Show

 Fast forward to 2019, and I’m in Glasgow School of Art watching Creep Show play a deliriously loud show of rhythmic machine-age abstractions set squarely in the 21st century. The quartet of middle-aged men who make up the membership of Creep Show sit in a row onstage behind tables of laptops, keyboard and an array of both hi-tech and low-tech electronic equipment. The room is full, though not uncomfortably so, and the sound is warm, infectious and ear-poppingly loud. 

 Creep Show are made up of all three members of Wrangler, plus John Grant, the American singer whose solo work is probably much better known than anything by Wrangler, either separately or together. Or indeed than Mr. Dynamite, the sole full-length release by Creep Show to date. Grant was a big Cabaret Voltaire fan, apparently, so being part of Creep Show is presumably something of a dream come true for him. Even so, while he sings on some of the album’s funkier tracks, live he remains low-key, part of an ensemble playing together as equal partners.

So when Creep Show encore with a euphoric, pulsating take on Sensoria, Cabaret Voltaire’s parallel universe dancefloor smash, which Peter Care’s video for the single of the song helped it on to MTV, Grant must be as elated as everyone else in the room. With Mallinder’s vocal as breathy as ever, Creep Show doing Sensoria is groovy, laidback and nasty, but in a sexy way. This really is entertainment, it seems. This is fun.


Present Tense

 And now, here we are. The Edinburgh nightclub called Cabaret Voltaire is still there, but, like the site of the original in Zurich, it's a bit different now. The place was bought over by a commercial chain, and isn’t the essential venue it once was. Things still happen there, and it’s still the same layout inside, but it doesn’t seem to possess the same profile or personality it once had. I’m sure young people still pack out the main room for whatever club nights fill it up these days, but the chances of Richard H Kirk doing a set there are probably pretty slim these days, however conceptual the link might be.

 Rewind back to Cabaret Voltaire 2008, though, and Kirk seems to have picked up where he left off after The Conversation. He’s just put out his first release under the Cabaret Voltaire name since then, a remix of a New Zealand band Kora under the name Kora! Kora! Kora! In a couple of years he’ll do something similar with an act called The Tivoli on the quartet’s National Service album.  And in 2014 he’ll finally play live as Cabaret Voltaire once more, when he takes an audio-visual multi-media club show to Berlin that sounds like Plato’s Ballroom with better technology. As does Shadow of Fear, which, half a decade on again, and arriving in a real life twilight zone, sounds like the logical conclusion of all that. What happens beyond is anybody’s guess.


This is (Still) Entertainment

 I don’t say any of this to the young woman standing beside me asking who Richard H Kirk is. Some of it is still in the future, and hasn’t happened yet, but there’s plenty that has. I probably say something about Kirk being a band from the ‘80s who took their name from a Dadaist club in Switzerland, and who made a lot of records, and how without them the main room next door probably wouldn’t be as packed out as it was, but that’s all. It’s probably enough. She sticks around for a few minutes, watching Kirk, then wanders off elsewhere to where the action might be. Which is fair enough. This is still entertainment, after all. This is fun.

 But all these years on, and with all that’s happened since with Kirk, Mallinder, Watson and Cabaret Voltaire, I wonder if she just larged it up in the main room, or whether something of what Richard H Kirk was doing might have seeped in, spreading the virus some more.

 Maybe she’s picked up on what Chris Watson does from his work on all the Attenborough documentaries. Or maybe she’s heard Creep Show through the John Grant connection, which might have led her to Wrangler and Mallinder’s solo records, then on to Kirk and Sandoz, Electronic Eye and all his other anti-identities.

 She might listen to Can and King Tubby, anyway, and maybe, just maybe, this led her all the way back to Cabaret Voltaire and watching Richard H. Kirk for however many minutes it was in the club named after them and the Dadaists who inspired them, and maybe she’s listening to Shadow of Fear right now.

 And while she’s listening, whether she’s at home or in the back room of a club at midnight, I imagine whoever she’s with might ask her “Who’s this?”

 “Well,” she might say, taking a sip of her Black Russian, as Vasto or Universal Energy kick in to bangingly entertaining dance-floor-friendly life. “Let me tell you…”

 Shadow of Fear by Cabaret Voltaire is released by Mute Records on November 20th.


Sources for this essay include: -

 {feuilleton} blog at

 My Life in the Mosh of Ghosts podcast by Roger Quail – and on Spotify. website

 Art = Life = Art – Babeth Mondini-VanLoo – From Beuys to Buddhism (samsara) 2016

 Shadowplayers by James Nice (Aurum) 2010 –

 Indie Originals: The New Hormones Story –

 The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made – David Hughes (Titan Books) 2001

 Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks - Richard Strange (Andre Deutsch) 2005

 The Hacienda Must Be Built! – edited by  Jon Savage (IMP) 1992


Records mentioned here include –

 1974-76 and Chance Versus Causality by Cabaret Voltaire, plus the Cabaret Voltaire back catalogue and works by Richard H. Kirk and Sandoz are available on Mute Records –

 A Situation, Sparked and other records by Wrangler are available at

 Mr Dynamite by Creep Show is available at

 Um Dada by Stephen Mallinder is available at and

 Pow Wow by Stephen Mallinder is available at

 Weather Report, El Tren Fantasma and other records by Chris Watson are available at and at

The Drouth, November 2020



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