Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Cabaret Voltaire

Released 1982 on Rough Trade
Reviewed by Lugia, 09/01/2004ce

Cabaret Voltaire: "2x45"
Rough Trade ROUGH 42, recorded 1981/82, released 1982.

1) Breathe Deep
2) Yashar
3) Protection
4) War of Nerves (T.E.S.)
5) Wait and Shuffle
6) Get Out of My Face

This release is the interstice between the three-man CabVolt and the duo version of just Kirk and Mallinder. One disc is with them, and the other still has third member Chris Watson before his departure to The Hafler Trio. As such, it's an interesting document that looks at where the Cabs were, and where they went. That, plus it's so satisfying in that CabVolt kinda way. Those of you who know what I mean there will understand.

"Breathe Deep" kicks us off...into a twisted-up kind of Sly Stone turf. Funky, funky, especially with the horns...yes, horns, and the propulsive bass. Alan Fish's drumming here is tight as hell, and drives the whole thing like some big funky piece of electrical apparatus. "Yashar", though, heads off in a darker direction with its opening "Outer Limits" samples ("Demon With the Glass Hand", to be specific) and Fish's very Liebezeit-like tom work. A very minor-tinged thing with a hint of N. Africa in some of the keyboard work. And you bet...it's still funky, funky, funky. Even when some of the more abrasive noises emerge, you're still locked into that machine heartbeat that Fish and Mal are laying down for the rest of the team to drone and squeee over.

The B side of the first disc is devoted entirely to "Protection"...and this time, we're in a more straightforward beat. We're chugging along like we're listening to some mutated, noisy Teutonic beat thing..but quite fast, as the proceedings move along at quite a clip. It's just one excellent jam, with Watson's organ work clicking right along with the hi-hat and running us right down the Sheffield steel rails. Mal's been run through some sort of distorto-filter-echo-monster throughout, so the vocals sound like they've been sent in over some defective satellite phone hookup. And Kirk's blowing on sax...at times, he sounds like he's almost trying to channel Albert Ayler, from the sheer honkage of the sound he's getting. It's a heady brew...muto-dub, industrial funk, avant-beat, 100% git down.

Then the personnel changes. Exeunt Mr. Watson and put on those jackboots as things are about to get a bit rougher. "War of Nerves" starts it all off, with ominous tape descriptions of torture before the music kicks off. This is funky, too...but not quite the same groove as on Disc 1. Instead, this is slower, not as propulsive, and with more of a sense of menace to it. Mal's further up in the mix, and run through yet another bank of manglers that make him sound almost death-metal-ish in places. This is a looser affair...guest Eric Random's wah-guitar is a nice counterpoise here to the buzzsaw drones slathered on thick and heavy. "Wait and Shuffle", though, is just great...a big sloppy jazz-infected and noisy jam over a quick funk shuffle beat, with tape vocals that're totally scrambled alongside Mal's own barking. It's all over the place, this is, but what do you care? Guitars and keyboard screech and yowl like cats in heat, dropping away just enough to allow what you'd call a 'break' in this track's context to happen. It's a stone groove that even Mr. Ra could love, and at times it almost reminds me of a few fragmentary moments on Miles' "Get Up With It".

But the best is saved for last. Oh, yes...here's why you put on those jackboots, coz it's SIR YES SIR!!! time with "Get Out of My Face". Screaming drill instructor military NOISE over something that sounds like Kraftwerk might after their equipment was soaked down with a firehose. This tries to be funky, but it's really just a straightahead hardcore disco drive with little keyboard sequencer blip-lines, dub guitar off in the next room, crashing bolts of static fired from fucked-with drums, and Mal's vocals doing this Steve Reich pulse-phase thing all over the place. If you can't get down to this, someone needs to call you a fuckin' mortician so they can get your dead ass buried! And it goes on for...the...whole...side! Daaaamn...

So which is better? The with-Watson or the without-Watson Cabs? Hell, I dunno. There's great points to both, and this double set does a hella great job of showing off those points. But if I was gonna say which...I would pick...ah, hell. I dunno. It depends on if you're in a funky tight mood or a jammy noisy mood. Either taste gets catered to in prime form herein. The sole...and I mean SOLE...drawback of this set is the annoying packaging, which has a tendancy to get damaged in an "In Search of Space"-sort of way. Bad design flaw, but when you're getting bounced around by these sonics, you tend to forgive such mistakes.

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