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STEPHEN MALLINDER

Stephen Mallinder

Tick Tick Tick

    Cabaret Voltaire co-founder Stephen Mallinder’s second solo outing for Dais further distills his signature fusion of minimal synth, oblique wordplay, and “wonky disco” into a riveting rhythm suite ripe for our age of escalation: tick tick tick. Channeling the temporal malaise of lockdown through a lusher palette of modular electronics and stereo strings, the songs embrace ambiguity and plasticity, loose systems of percolating circuitry and airless funk. Recorded across a handful of sessions at MemeTune Studios in Cornwall with frequent collaborator Benge (aka Ben Edwards), Mallinder cites no guiding aesthetic premise for the collection beyond “cowbell on every track, and entirely no reverb.”

    From the first coiled cybernetic groove of opener “Contact,” the album’s spatial dynamics are disorienting and asymmetrical, alternately cold and sensual, opiated and claustrophobic. But, throughout, “rhythm is the default, the bedrock, the building block – even the melodies are rhythmic.” Across 40-plus years of electronic musicianship, Mallinder’s sense of timing and tempo has honed into a rare tier of mastery, limber and fluid but knotted with strange frictions. Shades of Detroit technoid industrial (“ringdropp,” “Shock to the Body”) crossfade into no wavy punkfunk (“Guernica Gallery,” “Galaxy,” “The Trial”), bad trip IDM (“Wasteland”), and jittery vapor house (“Hush”), at the threshold of modes both familiar and foreign.

    Lyrically the record is equally evasive, rich with allusions and associative linguistics, surveying liquid notions of societal noise, ecological ruin, art world pretension, and the trials of daily life. But the lack of fixed meaning remains Mallinder’s main muse: “Music should draw you in; lyrics should make you think. Most interpretation is misinterpretation.” This is music of countdowns and comedowns, fleeting pleasures and opaque futures, observing the great decline while dancing on its ashes. Flux is deathless and forever; the rest, illusion: “I will be a constant figure / Flickering a moving picture / Turning in your head forever / Split apart but held together.”


    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A:
    A1. Contact
    A2. Ringdropp
    A3. Galaxy
    A4. Wasteland

    SIDE B:
    B1. Hush
    B2. Shock To The Body
    B3. Guernica Gallery *
    B4. The Trial
    B5. Tick Tick Tick

    * CD Bonus Track

    Stephen Mallinder

    Um Dada

      Stephen Mallinder, co founder and frontman of the iconic Cabaret Voltaire, has returned with his first solo album in over 35 years: Um Dada. Laced with leftfield house and cut up sound collages, Um Dada is a melding of energies that are an exercise in simplicity and motion. Sincere, playful realism that beckons your body to move, always reminding you to never take yourself too seriously without forfeiting your agency.

      While steering Cabaret Voltaire through the 1980’s, Mallinder was already busy piecing together his first solo album entitled “Pow Wow”, which would help define Mallinder’s interest in the more leftfield electro sounds shaping England at the time. It was this diverse and abstract hybrid that helped inspire generations of artists and musicians through steeping raw machine funk within the whimsical and absurdist ideology.

      Since the release of “Pow Wow” in 1982, Mallinder continued his pioneering work with Cabaret Voltaire, as well as recording and touring with his electro projects Wrangler, Creep Show, Hey Rube, Kula, and Cobby & Mallinder. In addition to his non stop schedule in electronic music, his professional life as a journalist, broadcaster, producer and now a professor of Digital Music & Sound Art at the University of Brighton, has lead Mallinder to a unique point in his career. Most in his position would be caught up in rosy retrospection, but Mallinder himself says, “There’s too much digital finger licking right now; every thought and desire at the turn of a dial... well a click of the mouse. And there’s a giddy, false nostalgia about the analogue past. Sorry to burst your bubble but the truth of history is more mundane: practical, pragmatic...Um Dada is about ‘play’ cut and paste, lost words, twisted presets, voice collage, simple sounds things that have been lost to technology’s current determinism. Let the machines talk to each other, let them dance .. they lead, we follow.”

      Um Dada opens up with the exact machine led surrealism that Mallinder recommends in “Working (You Are)”. A thick, stripped back dance floor groove provides the ideal foundation for Mallinder’s eccentric vocal cuts. The frisky chops present an almost twisted irony, subtly bringing to mind the role we’re all forced to play as just another cog in the ever grinding capitalist machine of life. Yet, somehow, the listener is left feeling optimistic. A prime example of simplicity at work. Tracks such as “Satellite” give a skillful illustration of Mallinder’s adeptness with his musical expertise while preserving his core historical context as only simple reference. The underlying bassline and percussion, coupled with the floating melodies and airy vocal refrain disclose the vulnerabilities of love and loss without a hint of irony or nostalgia.

      Um Dada is mischievously idealist, however never loses touch with reality. Offering structure while simultaneously dismantling any and all preconceptions. The spirit of sincerity that sustained Cabaret Voltaire’s lengthy career is abundantly present within founder Stephen Mallinder’s journey through his own whimsical utopian consciousness and staking claim to an identity that is solely his own.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: One of the most singular voices in English electronica returns for his first solo album in over 30 years. 'Um Dada' encompasses everything we love about Mallinder and while his most recent collabs (Creep Show with shop favourite John Grant was a particular highlight) clearly showed his influence, it's great to hear his own sound, undiluted and unadorned, and switching effortlessly between a huge range of influences and sounds.

      TRACK LISTING

      CD
      1. Working (You Are)
      2. Prefix Repeat Rewind
      3. It’s Not Me
      4. Um Dada
      5. Satellite
      6. Colour
      7. Flashback
      8. Robber*
      9. Hollow*

      *Bonus Tracks

      LP
      A1. Working (You Are)
      A2. Prefix Repeat Rewind
      A3. It’s Not Me
      A4. Um Dada
      B1. Satellite
      B2. Colour
      B3. Flashback


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