OSCILLATIONS: THE VOICE OF AMERICA by Cabaret Voltaire
Cabaret Voltaire was certainly one of my first encounters with electronic music, and as such has continued to be an influence, especially when in comes to CV's early releases. THE VOICE OF AMERICA (1980), the group's second LP, seemed to me a real kick in the eye and ear with its dada-inspired cover collage and swells of throbbing paranoia provided courtesy the trio of Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder, and Christopher R. Watson. Instruments included traditional guitar and bass, but those were supplemented by tape manipulations, percolating electronic percussion, found voices, and even a clarinet. All were fair game for processing, resulting in a kind of pop primitivism that furthered the noise quotient and the resultant sense of unease. This was Sheffield grit that reflected in its grains the political and the personal on a world stage. The title track is a manifesto about otherness and control, while "Obsession" gave voice to the damage of desire (in the form of capitalism), with its primitive rhythm machine, smears of guitar, and chanting vocal. "Kneel to the Boss" again tackled the issue of control in its various forms. My favorite track has always been "This is Entertainment", a deadpan vocal caught up in an eventual miasma of electronic percussion, making Cabaret Voltaire's position on the media and the entertainment industry crystal clear. It was a catchy, repetitive track that stuck in my brain like a top 40 hit that never was. The sickly feeling that is prevalent throughout the album is really the voice of America itself and its cultural and military imperialism, now the New Rome with its center impossibly stretched. Scary stuff indeed!