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Richard H. Kirk Has Died, Aged 65
Patrick Clarke , September 21st, 2021 13:30

The news was confirmed by his label Mute

Richard H. Kirk, the pioneering musician best known for his work with Cabaret Voltaire, has died, aged 65.

A statement from his label Mute said: "It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H. Kirk has passed away. Richard was a towering creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career. We will miss him so much."

Born in Sheffield in 1956, Kirk first came to prominence in the 1970s as one-third of Cabaret Voltaire, the industrial group who took their name from a nightclub in Zurich that was a centre for the early Dada movement. Having formed in 1973, and played their first live gig in 1975, the band eventually signed to Rough Trade in 1978, after sending demos to a number of labels. The trio were prolific in the years that followed, releasing EPs such as Extended Play, Nag Nag Nag and Three Mantras between 1978 and 1980, as well as three albums: Mix-Up (1979), The Voice Of America (1980) and Red Mecca (1981).

After one-third of the group, Chris Watson, left in 1981, Kirk and fellow member Stephen Mallinder took their industrial sound in a decidedly more commercial direction, releasing the album The Crackdown via Some Bizarre / Virgin Records in 1983, as well as Micro-Phonies, also via Virgin, in 1984. The former gave the group their best UK chart placing, landing at number 31. Some years later, Kirk and Mallinder started to pursue a more electronic-influenced sound, best captured on 1990's Groovy, Laidback & Nasty, which was produced in Chicago alongside house pioneer Marshall Jefferson. A number of other house-infuenced records followed between 1992 and 1994, released through the labels Plastex and Apollo.

Kirk remained the only continuous member of Cabaret Voltaire, returning to the project for a series of live performances starting in 2014, two decades on from the initial dissolution of the band in 1994. In November 2020, he released the first album of new Cabaret Voltaire material in more than two decades, Shadow Of Fear, via Mute. An EP, Shadow Of Funk, as well as two more albums, Dekadrone and BN9Drone, followed on Mute earlier this year.

In addition to his work with Cabaret Voltaire, Kirk also released a number of other records under a variety of aliases that included Sandoz, Electronic Eye and Trafficante. Much of his solo work leaned into the downtempo and electronic influences of Cabaret Voltaire's 1990s work, with the project Sweet Exorcist – a collaboration with Richard Barratt (AKA DJ Parrot) – bearing a number of seminal early "Bleep Techno" releases through Warp Records.

This is a developing story, and is being continuously updated