Cabaret Voltaire

Methodology '74/'78: The Attic Tapes

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By the time the three-disc Methodology '74/'78 compilation of previously unreleased material surfaced through Mute in 2003, Cabaret Voltaire's constant presence in the release schedule -- alternate glances at career highlights, compilations of 12" mixes, new remixes of old songs, decades-after-the-fact live discs -- was beginning to make them look like a classic rock band intent on cashing in by any means possible. So this must be the bottom of the bunker, right? Methodology is three discs crammed with outtakes that were unfit for proper release and probably, until this point, never considered for public consumption. Its appeal is extremely limited, even to many of the fans who have all the proper albums. However, this is a real treat for those who are curious to hear how Cabaret Voltaire arrived at their early, demented, paranoid sound. This is far from hearing a young band attempting several times over to nail down "Louie Louie" (even though "The Single," from the first disc, is based on a walking rhythm and lighthearted commands to slick your hair back and slide your feet). It isn't your average collection of dregs, since Cabaret Voltaire were finding -- or in some cases stumbling upon -- ways to push electronic music into new directions. Imposing as the whole thing might be, the 53 tracks included are kept short and sweet, rarely eclipsing four minutes in length. All the core ingredients that would be refined for the proper releases are in looser form here: rhythm-box clatter, sampled dialogue, treated instruments, contorted song structures. The material on the third disc consists primarily of alternate versions of familiar tunes, including "Baader Meinhof," "Do the Mussolini," and good old "Nag Nag Nag." Apart from being a fascinating listen, the sound quality throughout is excellent, and the price the package goes for is more advantageous to the consumer than the label. Shame about the unreadable liner notes, though. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi