Though they're one of the most important groups in the history of industrial and electronic music, Cabaret Voltaire
are sometimes forgotten in the style's timeline -- perhaps because they continued recording long after other luminaries (Throbbing Gristle
) called it quits. Also related to the fact is that CV
rarely stayed in one place for long, instead moving quickly from free-form experimentalism through arty white-boy funk and on to house music in the late '80s and electronica the following decade. The band, formed by guitarist Richard H. Kirk
, bassist Stephen Mallinder
, and tape manipulator Chris Watson
, were influenced by the Dadaist movement (whence came their name) and as such, came closer to performance art than music during many of their early performances. After several years of recording with no contract, the group signed to the newly formed Rough Trade label in 1978 and began releasing records that alternated punk-influenced chargers with more experimental pieces incorporating tape loops and sampled effects.
Following Watson's departure, the remaining duo inaugurated a new contract with Some Bizzare/Virgin in 1983 by shifting their sound, away from raging industro-funk and towards a more danceable form. The singles "Sensoria" and "James Brown" hit the indie charts during 1984, and Cabaret Voltaire
moved to EMI/Parlophone in 1986 for The Code. Two years later, the band traveled to Chicago to record Groovy, Laidback & Nasty
with Marshall Jefferson
, one of the mavericks in the new house sound blowing up in the British charts. After another break of several years, the new-electronica label Instinct released a trio of CV
LPs during 1993-94, after which the band's future appeared cloudy. Kirk
continued his solo career (recording as Electronic Eye
and himself), while Mallinder
moved to Australia. A handful of compilations surfaced during the early 2000s: the two-volume The Original Sound of Sheffield sets (featuring A-sides, 12" mixes, and album highlights), Conform to Deform '82/'90 (a three-disc box containing B-sides, alternate mixes, and unreleased tracks), and Methodology '74/'78 (three discs of raw archival material).