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Baker's Dozen

Semi-Chaotic Elements: Ekoplekz' Favourite Albums
The Quietus , June 4th, 2015 11:11

With his third album on Planet Mu out, Nick Edwards gives us an in-depth trawl through his top 13 LPs, a Baker's Dozen that scans his formative 90s electronica influences and acts as a "reference point" to Reflekzionz

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Sandoz - Intensely Radioactive
Cabaret Voltaire are without doubt my all-time favourite group, best known for their early, pioneering industrial music in the post-punk era, followed by a period engaged in the margins of electronic dance and pop in the 80s. But there was no shortage of material in the 90s either. They released three great instrumental techno albums (generally referred to as the 'ambient trilogy' by fans) before disbanding, but Richard H. Kirk also released some brilliant music with DJ Parrot as Sweet Exorcist and had an incredibly prolific solo period throughout the remainder of the decade, with a relentless series of albums under a variety of aliases that was very hard to keep on top of.

1994 was probably the peak year for all this activity. He released a couple of albums under his own name for Warp [1994's Virtual State and 1995's The Number Of Magic], plus a gigantic vinyl box set as Electronic Eye for the Beyond label and this one for Touch. Sandoz was probably the best-known of all Kirk's solo aliases in that decade, and the vibe was generally techno beats laced with complex Afro-Caribbean polyrhythms, deep, dubby basslines and lashings of ambient synth melodies. It's hard to whittle it all down to a favourite album, but I think Intensely Radioactive sums up everything great about what Kirk was doing in that period.

I love the cloudy atmosphere of these recordings. There's a muted, dusty quality to the sounds that gives them a faraway feeling, like watching an old film. Whether this was intentional or a side effect of all the old recording gear at the Cabs' Western Works studio I'm not sure, but it gave a dreamlike warmth to everything Kirk released at that time. And when he stripped the tracks right down and added filtered snare drums and plummeting sub-bass, as on 'Atro City Reaction', the effect was magical.

I kept the faith with Kirk well into the following decade, finally got to meet him for a brief chat after a solo gig at 93 Feet East [in London] and even managed to get him to remix one of my own tracks in recent times (on the Westerleigh Works EP), but must admit I've not been keeping up with his latest activities, back under the Cabaret Voltaire banner. I would love to see a full, proper reunion of the original Cabs line-up, with Chris Watson and Stephen Mallinder, even if it was just a temporary thing for a couple of concerts, but I think they are all busy doing their own things and too much water has passed under the bridge. One can but dream...


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