This 1985 album from Cabaret Voltaire is as haunting and satisfying and edge-lordian as the day it was recorded.
I wonder what spirits were swirling around in those mid 1980s days. Many things had a very certain industrial feel – the whole world did in some ways – which is why, say, a film like Eraserhead is so evocative for people of a certain age. And why crews like Mutoid Waste appeared – a Max Headroom post punk apocalypse-acceptance culture that bridged the Stonehenge & Convoy & Acid Rock into the new and improved dance culture. I don’t feel that industrial darkness any more – it was in the fabric of reality at the time. A luddite projection onto machines we didn’t understand perhaps. Or perhaps the zeitgeist of part of an era, unfathomable to those that were not there to feel it’s strange presence. I miss it in some ways, and the music of the period makes for some wild time travel, effectively.
And The Arm Of The Lord
Electro Dub & Wired Funk
A strange type of unsettling magical electronica dub is invented here. Found sounds and electro beyond dance, but more than bedroom – made for sound-systems and scenes as yet unimagined. A few short years later, Acid House saw these born.
A sci-fi dystopic mainline back to the 60s, which was still very much alive in the culture at that time, and a weird future like Max Headroom offered, not the new romantic synths of the Gary Numan era, but a gritty, street level blotter acid version.
I don’t know how they were making these sounds, never looked into the equipment they used, never tried to find out. That in itself is testament to how the Cabs could suspend one’s disbelief and be immersed without the urge to deconstruct. That’s quite rare.
You would absolutely not get away with playing any of this at a house party at the time – this was a time of amazing pop & dance chart music – like Prince. No, this was for hi-fi enthusiasts and experimental studio heads and acid drenched futurists. You can’t really dance to it, even though it is, on a core level, funk.
What came next was New Order, Acid House, and the total re-synthesis of all this experimental synth output.
This first track I’ve picked out here is the ambient in-between ‘liminal’ feel of the album – and these interludes fill in between the post-punk electro-funk tracks and are creepy in a way it’s hard to articulate.
“An old man that I met on the road . . . ”
Full album playlist: