fri 04/12/2020

Album: Cabaret Voltaire - Shadow of Fear | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Cabaret Voltaire - Shadow of Fear

Album: Cabaret Voltaire - Shadow of Fear

Dark and disorientating electronica at its best

Shadow of Fear: a return to form

Almost 30 years since Stephen Mallinder jumped ship from Cabaret Voltaire, it still seems strange to accept that the band is now the solo concern of Richard H Kirk, the final remaining original member of Sheffield’s path-beating electronica experimentalists.

Almost 30 years since Stephen Mallinder jumped ship from Cabaret Voltaire, it still seems strange to accept that the band is now the solo concern of Richard H Kirk, the final remaining original member of Sheffield’s path-beating electronica experimentalists. This isn’t to suggest, for one minute, that the quality of the Cabs’ work has taken a dip since Mal’s departure. It’s just become a totally instrumental concern with any vocals, such as they are, provided purely by mangled spoken word samples. In fact, if anything Shadow of Fear is a return to the proto-acid house magnificence of the band’s early '80s work from The Crackdown, Microphonies and the Johnny Yesno soundtrack.

Shadow of Fear is a fine album of raw and disorientating electronica, dub and motorik sounds with bags of punk attitude and a dancefloor heavy vibe. Opening track “Be Free” is atmospheric and cinematic with distorted vocal samples and loops of urban dystopian flavours, while “Night of the Jackal” is woozy and hypnotic with a trippy groove. “Universal Energy” is a relentless and wild techno dancefloor stomper, and “Papa Nine Zero Delta United” is both hip-swinging and mesmeric stuff. This is an album with real depth and soul that has nevertheless been created totally by Kirk’s manipulation of machines and found sounds. That said, the hallucinatory funk of “What’s Goin’ On” does feature looped brass samples as well as multiple vocal edits to create its otherworldly vibe, and is a major highlight.

Richard H Kirk’s continued use of the Cabaret Voltaire moniker is no misuse of the name or reputational misstep, as Shadow of Fear is up there with some of the band’s better albums. In fact, it’s also up there with some of the better electronic albums released by anyone this year, almost 40 years since the Cabs’ original purple patch.

'Shadow of Fear' is a return to the proto-acid house magnificence of Cabaret Voltaire's early '80s work

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

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