Album Shuffle 008: Cabaret Voltaire, THE CRACKDOWN

Some Bizarre · 1983

Well. There's a reason I only knew Cabaret Voltaire's singles.

I'm not going to say this album is bad; I'd need to spend more time with it to do that, and I don't really have the patience for that. I'd rather just listen to the songs that struck me on a loop and see what I get out of them:

"Just Fascination" is my second-favorite CV song (after "Sensoria," natch), and its gloomy, twitchy disco sounds great here as the most alive thing on an album of smeared, stuttering synths and cryptic intonations.

"Animation" features Stephen Mallinder affecting a German accent among the most dancefloor-friendly productions on the album.

"Why Kill Time (When You Can Kill Yourself)" sounds almost exactly like the Human League before the girls came on, only with a funkier bass.

"Haiti" is a lovely, moody soundscape that I have to imagine has been posted all over the Internet (just not the corners I frequent) over the past several weeks, quite possibly the best thing on the record.

"Diskono" is a pretty good Kraftwerk tribute.

And the rest of the album almost put me to sleep on the freeway before I fished my dinner out of my bag and drank Coke to stay alive. (Repetitive music + not enough sleep + afternoon sun + stop & go traffic = danger, kids.) I hated the last couple of songs on the album, but whether that was because I was in a mood to hate anything or because they were truly unpleasant I haven't had the moral courage to decide by revisiting them.

On the whole, I believe I'll stick with the singles (and "Haiti"). 1983 was too long ago, Cabaret Voltaire's self-importance too impregnable, for me to return often to these slabs of their work for pleasure. In the middle of a mix (especially the kinds of mixes I tend to make) they're fantastically broody, a gothic interlude between splashes of Fun: but run all together like this . . . I know, my real problem is with the album as a format. You don't have to tell me twice.

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