Cabaret Voltaire – “Code”

I’m not sure how I missed Cabaret Voltaire back in the day.

OK, the above was my original opening to this post, but I quickly realized it was a completely ridiculous thing to say. I’d never heard Cabaret Voltaire because I lived inside a musical box for a good two decades, one that was limited almost exclusively to rock and heavy metal, and Cabaret Voltaire certainly wouldn’t have fit with what I was into. A good friend of mine in high school was way into industrial, dance, and goth, so it’s quite possible I did actually hear the band over at his house, but I’m sure I would have instantly dismissed it. So why the original opening? Probably because I can’t believe it took me this long to “discover” a band that is so damn good.

Holly originally turned me on to these guys, and I think our friend Matt actually got her interested in them. She found one of their records while I was stocking up on Swedish punk discs in Stockholm and put it into my pile. Since then we’ve added a few more here and there (used, reasonably priced Cabaret Voltaire records seem pretty widely available), so when I found Code marked at $3 the other day, it was a no-brainer to add to my stack. And then I put it on the turntable yesterday. And it blew my freaking mind.

I don’t know the Cabaret Voltaire catalog, so I have no pre-conceived notions as to how 1987′s Code is viewed by the band’s fans. And I don’t care. It’s an awesome electronic/techno/dance record. I was completely hooked by the second song, “Sex, Money, Freaks,” and from there it proved hard to not completely focus on it the rest of the way through. The sound, of course, is heavily electronic, with lots of sampling, which is my preference when it comes to this type of music. The band does a great job of ensuring that the songs have their own unique identities while still fitting together within the overall sound of the album as a whole, something that particularly appeals to me as a casual fan of the genre since I sometimes have trouble comprehending where one track ends and the next starts in a lot of the techno I’ve heard (which is almost entirely due to my general lack of experience and familiarity with the genre, I’m sure).

This is one of those albums that struck me as being great the first time I listened to it… and as it plays in the background while I’m writing this, the second time through is every bit as good as the first. I’m definitely going to have to revisit the other Cabaret Voltaire records we have (The Drain Train and Groovy, Laidback and Nasty) – this is a band worth learning more about.

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