A slight feeling of pride comes to me as I write these words, because I am talking about a real icon in the field of electronic music here; instrumental behind Cabaret Voltaire, the band that spawned not just a new generation of electronic musicians in awe of this talent, but a whole movement which came in its wake – the industrial sound. The pride doesn’t come from this though – it is the fact that I am reviewing a fellow Yorkshireman (British readers will know what I’m talking about!).
So, to the music. The “Earlier/ Later” collection of tracks basically traces a line through Richard H Kirk’s musical career – namely from 1974 to 1989. By listening sequentially, you really get an idea of how his sound has shaped and transformed, and how, as technology has been updated, he has always been there on top of it. Synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, acid boxes… everything has been taken, mastered and manipulated by RHK, much to the amazement of a generation of wide-eyed followers. If songs on these CD:s sound familiar to you; that’s simply the influence Kirk has had on the given performer you are listening to – although this anthology reads 74 to 89, the influence is way beyond the year 2000. Put simply, if this CD was a film, it would be Star Wars.
In summary, delight in the fact that this CD is available to all of us, and marvel at the fact that it is the creation of one man. It is a stamp of approval indeed to say that in one day four cd’s of quality electronic music are available; considering many musicians could span their whole careers in fewer tracks, and still not manage to be as influential, or relevant. A fitting tribute to a true pioneer of the electronic sound.
Key tracks: “International Smashface Detective Theme”, “Venusian Electrodes”, “Kinshasa Express”, “Never Lose Your Shadow”, “Numero Uno Baby/ Information”, and “One Three Fourgasm”.
There is another related release out as well – with Sandoz, one of the chief pseudonyms of RHK. Sandoz has been known for a long time to be the slightly more up-tempo, dancefloor-orientated side of Kirks’ music, as opposed to the more experimental leanings of his own-name-released work. Over the space of the new two-CD “Digital Lifeforms (Redux)” you can really see why.