Richard H. Kirk will be a familiar name to those who have explored the darker realms of electronic and industrial music. The U.K. artist was an '80s pioneer with his group Cabaret Voltaire, which disbanded in the mid-'90s after defining industrial electro and influencing a generation across the board from Detroit techno to post-rock and beyond. Following Cabaret Voltaire and numerous solo albums and soundtracks, Kirk founded Sandoz, Electronic Eye, and Blackworld -- umbrellas for his experiments in ambient, experimental, and IDM. This solo album appears on German underground label Die Stadt, and is packaged inside an extraordinary exhibition from the Designers Republic, with a six-page foldout and color postcards, making it a striking artifact -- as complex and evocative as the music within. Grandiose classical arrangements and string section samples establish a bleak atmosphere, with long dramatic passages inspired by Wagner, Debussy, and Mozart, which explore a turgid soundtrack ambience for the most part. Offsetting this dark drama, moments of rhythmic invention come via snappy electro beats that are distinctively Richard H. Kirk. These sound somewhat outdated in comparison to the advances made by Autechre while under his influence, and the austerity of this music makes it a fairly unwelcoming listen.
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