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Cabaret Voltaire

Luminary in the history of industrial music, Cabaret Voltaire was formed in 1973 in Sheffield, England by Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder, and Chris Watson. The band borrowed its name from the historic club in Zurich, Switzerland: a place, although only operational through part of 1916, that served as the locus of the anarchic Dada art movement. The Dada style was obvious in Cabaret Voltaire’s early work, which focused primarily on music-tinged performance art. The group performed live and recorded a series of independent records until it was signed by Rough Trade Records in 1978. The debut album with Rough Trade, Mix Up (1979), received little critical acclaim but the group found success in the aesthetic landscape developed in England through the 1970s punk and post-punk scenes. Tape manipulator Chris Watson left the group to pursue a professional sound recording career and subsequently the band decided to develop a more commercially appealing, dance-oriented style. In 1983 the group hired American producer John Robie to remix its song “Yashir,” which received widespread play at dance clubs across England. The group’s fifth album, The Crackdown, was released by Some Bizarre (a Virgin Records imprint) in 1983 and reached number 31 on the UK Albums Chart. This cemented Cabaret Voltaire’s ability to develop its style within various arenas of the music business. In 1986 the band changed labels to EMI/Parlophone and traveled to Chicago to record its ninth album: Groovy, Laidback and Nasty. The album was an intentional foray into house music, which was very popular in England at the time. A final studio album was released in 1994 and, having disbanded, the members focused on solo projects.