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Formed in Sheffield (Yorkshire) in 1974 and named after the Dadaist collective, this experimental, innovative electronic-dance group consisted of Stephen Mallinder, Richard H. Kirk and Chris Watson. Influenced by Can and Brian Eno, the group strived to avoid the confines of traditional pop music and the trio's early appearances veered towards performance art. This attitude initially attracted the attention of Factory Records and the group contributed two tracks to A Factory Sample. They eventually signed to Rough Trade Records that same year, producing the Extended Play EP, which confirmed the band's experimental stance, although Nag, Nag, Nag was a head-on rush of distorted guitar and driving beat. The trio continued to break new ground, using sampled 'noise', cut-up techniques and tape loops. Often viewed as inaccessible, in the ensuing years Cabaret Voltaire released the UK Independent Top 10 singles Silent Command, Three Mantras and Seconds Too Late
Their 1979 debut album, Mix Up, was followed by a more conventional offering, The Voice Of America. After Live At The YMCA 27.10.79, the group widened their horizons with video and collaborative work, including work on the Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule and two Industrial label cassettes. In 1981, the group's prolific out-put was increased by the morbid but successful Red Mecca and by another cassette, Live At The Lyceum
Chris Watson left in October 1981 to work in television and later resurfaced in the Hafler Trio. In 1982, Eric Random was recruited on guitar for a Solidarity benefit concert, performing under the name Pressure Company
Departing from Rough Trade in 1983, whilst also releasing Fools Game on Les Disques du Crépuscule and Yashar on Factory, the group signed a joint deal with Some Bizzare/Virgin Records. The first fruits of this move, Just Fascination, and The Crackdown confirmed the Cabaret Voltaire's new approach and signaled a drastic shift towards rhythmic dance sounds (assisted by Soft Cell keyboard player, Dave Ball's presence)
Yet another label entered the frame when Doublevision released the film soundtrack Johnny Yesno. Richard Kirk's double set, Time High Fiction, came at the end of this productive year
The critically acclaimed The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord, echoed the group's earlier work
By July 1987, the duo had transferred to EMI/Parlophone, debuting with Don't Argue. As with the follow-up releases, Here To Go and Code, its dance sound had a purely commercial slant, lacking the pair's earlier, experimental approach
In 1989, a new Cabaret Voltaire single, Hypnotised, reflected their visit to the house music capital, Chicago
Mute Records methodically reissued the band's early back catalogue on CD, including many rare and previously unreleased recordings. Leaving EMI, Cabaret Voltaire returned to Les Disques du Crépuscule for What Is Real, in 1991, followed by the well-received Body And Soul. This only consolidated the group's pivotal role in hi-tech dance music, which they have helped develop over a decade-and-a-half

Albums: Mix Up (1979) | The Voice Of America (1980) | Live At The YMCA 27.10.79 (1980) | Red Mecca (1981) | Live At The Lyceum (1981) | 2 x 45 (1982) | Hai! (1982) | Johnny Yesno (1983, film soundtrack) | Micro-phonies (1984) | The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord (1985) | Code (1987) | Groovy Laid Back And Nasty (1990) | Body And Soul (1991)

Dates when they played with Joy Division:
Friday 20 October 1978 Russel Club Manchester (UK)
Tuesday 24 October 1978 Fan's Club (Branningan's) Leeds (UK)
Friday 22 December 1978 Revolution Club York (UK)
Saturday 8 September 1979 Queens Hall (Futurama) Leeds (UK)
Tuesday 16 October 1979 Plan K Brussels (Belgium)



Line-up: Dave Ball (1983) (keyboard) | Richard H. Kirk (guitar/wind instruments) | Stephen Mallinder (bass/lead vocals) | Eric Random (1982) (guitar) | Chris Watson (1974–October 1981) (electronics/tapes)