The Sheffield band were pioneers in industrial and experimental electronic music
Richard H Kirk, co-founder and latterly sole member of Sheffield band Cabaret Voltaire, has passed away at the age of 65. The cause of his death has not been made public.
Born in Sheffield on 21 March 1956, Kirk was just 17 years old when he formed Cabaret Voltaire (known affectionately to fans as “the Cabs”) with Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson, taking the name from a Vienna nightclub that had been a focal point for the Dadaist art movement of the early 20th Century. Their experiments with tape loops and electronics saw the band achieve great critical, if not always commercial, success during the post-punk era of the late 70s and early 80s, notably with the classic Nag Nag Nag, and they have been cited as a major influence by everyone from New Order to Trent Reznor, as well as many leading techno and EBM producers.
In 1981 Chris Watson left the band, who would go on to explore a more overtly dance-oriented direction in the late 80s and early 90s, working with the likes of Marshall Jefferson, Ten City and Kym Mazelle, not to mention Soft Cell/The Grid man Dave Ball and UK dub legend Adrian Sherwood. During this period, Kirk was also a member of bleep pioneers Sweet Exorcist, alongside fellow Sheffield native DJ Parrot.
Mallinder then also departed in 1995, leaving Kirk the sole bearer of the Cabaret Voltaire torch – though he wouldn't actually use the name again until the late 00s, instead making music under a variety of aliases, including Sandoz and Electronic Eye.
Most recently, three albums released on Mute in 2020 and 2021 – Shadow Of Fear, Dekadrone and BN9Drone – saw Cabaret Voltaire, now a Kirk solo project, working once more firmly in the experimental/drone/industrial/noise arena.