The Death Of Dissent: Richard H Kirk's Baker's Dozen
, December 5th, 2016 10:43
With the release of the Richard H Kirk and Sandoz box sets, the Cabaret Voltaire lynchpin takes us through thirteen of his favourite and most enduring albums
Now that Cabaret Voltaire have completed their live dates for the year, Richard H Kirk is free to reflect on 2016 with a typically forthright kind of bleak realism. "Fuck knows what's going to happen now Trump's got into power," he says. "Brexit was bad enough for me. I've always felt myself to be European, and now I'm told I'm not by a little toad like Nigel Farage. It's kinda scary, this big shift to right-wing politics and the end of liberalism. It has been a very odd year. People keep going. It feels like the end of something, and the start of something new and scary."
While politics might offer little joy, Kirk does have the upcoming release of two box sets to celebrate. Mute have gathered his solo work, some of which precedes the first Cabaret Voltaire material, into the Richard H. Kirk – #7489 and Sandoz – #9294 sets which secure his achievements as one of British electronic music's darkest outliers, a producer of contrary and clangorous noise which has kept an otherworldly and at times scary appeal over the course of more than 40 years.
But during that time, Kirk has witnessed what he sees as the decline in the potential for music to be truly dangerous, truly dissenting. The sheer quantity of music available on the web, with its ease of production and consumption, has meant music's final transition into mere entertainment.
"I struggle to think of acts that sound new or dangerous today," he says. "I don't get that kind of outlaw vibe. I did really enjoy Factory Floor – I'm not just saying that because I did a remix for them. And also Powell. Then another band from Sheffield I worked with, Blood Sport. I've seen them play live a couple of times, and they're very angry.
"But it's really difficult now, I think, for people starting out in music because you really can't make a living from it. That makes it difficult to give everything of yourself. I can't really see any way out of it. Unless someone decides to destroy the Internet."
Since drawing up his Baker's Dozen, though, Kirk has revisited a lot of albums from the mid-70s and discovered that Cabaret Voltaire's formative influences still hold strong today. The sense of discovery is still embedded in records by Kraftwerk, David Bowie and Joseph Zawinul. "Some of them are from Germany, some from America, some from Jamaica," he says. "The majority seem to be from that that mid-70s period, which was pre-punk, really. Everyone says there wasn't a great deal of good music around, but I think this list proves otherwise." The Richard H. Kirk – #7489 (Collected Works 1974 – 1989) and Sandoz – #9294 (Collected Works 1992 – 1994) are out now on Mute. Click on the image below to begin scrolling through Richard's choices.