Cabaret Voltaire

The Crackdown

Mute • 1983

Cabaret Voltaire’s »most boring album« ever? When »The Crackdown« was released in 1983, the British industrial pioneers had been reduced to the duo of Richard H. Kirk and Stephen Mallinder. Stylistically, things had changed a bit, too. Instead of playful cut-up collages or sparse, choppy post-punk numbers, they now had drum computers and sequencers programmed for machine funk. Kirk and Mallinder aimed to test their future-sceptic approach on the dance floor. Among other things, they provided for disturbing content with proto-sampling, as with »24-24«, for example. On it, tape recordings of interview statements made by African-American prison inmates from the USA about prison conditions, still painstakingly inserted by hand at the time, disturb the groove. Compared to their earlier sound with its affinity for noise, the result may be seen as a more commercial version of the band. Listening to »The Crackdown« today nearly 40 years on, however, might make things seem a little different. Cabaret Voltaire have always sounded harsh on this record, the repetitive beat too uncomfortable, the slightly hoarse, throaty chanting in stark contrast to the clear production. And on the title track, even the synthesisers build up to a nasty sawing climax at the end of the album. Boredom sounds different.