Back in ’79, when Chris Watson was still a member of Cabaret Voltaire, the industrial pioneers wrote the soundtrack for Babs Mondini’s 16mm flick, ‘Chance Versus Causality’. 40 years later the near-mythical recording finally resurfaces on Mute’s Grey Area, and is certain to send Cabs fans reeling
As the legend goes, Cabaret Voltaire’s Chris Watson, Richard H. Kirk and Stephen Mallinder mets Babs Mondini after their legendary ’79 Brussels Plan K show on a bill with Joy Division and William S. Burroughs. Babe asked the band to record a soundtrack to her upcoming film, and, without even seeing the film, or any instruction from the director, they created the soundtrack in an “ambient style”, meaning, in their own words “less rhythm, more tape” coupled with spacey, noisy FX and laced with vocals samples from other films. The results were sent as reels of tape to Holland and applied to the film, a split screen art piece given a limited release that was ultimately never seen by the band. Fast fwd 25 years and the music was returned to the band, who have finally conspired with Mute for this long-overdue 2019 vinyl edition.
The 2LP affords an unabridged gaze upon Cabaret Voltaire at their loosest and instinctive, providing a stark contrast to their driving disco-not-disco classic ’Nag Nag Nag’ and a rare snapshot of Chris Watson’s tenure, before he departed and became a preeminent field recordist for Tyne Tees TV and eventually the BBC. It’s worth focusing on Watson here, as his field recording influence is apparent right from the opening seconds’ sound of running water and throughout the soundtrack, whereas Kirk and Mallinder provide a range of percussion, strings and wind instruments that are warped, smudged and mulched in-the-mix.
If you’re a frivolous silly bugger, the soundtrack is practically worth it for the cranky, uncredited Yorkshireman decrying “There’s something bubbling up in this bastard, I don’t like it at all”, but if you’re in it for the music, mayne, you’ll be rewarded with some of the Cabs’ rawest material on record, with palmed blasts of dissonant blatz interrupting passages of wry electronics, anguished chorales, spluttering drum machines and buckling tape, all pebble-dashed with vocal samples lifted from french art flicks and radio and TV adverts and the like.