Cabaret Voltaire

The Voice of America

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The Voice of America introduces itself with a Southern policeman delivering instructions to what could be a riot squad. Part of the instructions direct those offering security to a first aid van to obtain earplugs, "so as to keep you from having a headache." A little self-mocking humor? Some thinly veiled advice for the listener, perhaps? Probably both. Like Mix-Up, The Voice of America displays in various ways how noisy, abrasive, and unpleasant an album can be in the oft-used ten-song/40-minute format, providing the nag-nag-nag that Cabaret Voltaire does so well without the drag-drag-drag associated with a lot of electronic experimentalism. Generally speaking, The Voice of America has more of an anchor than Mix-Up with its increased use of rhythm, whether it's from those rickety drum machines or actual drums. The sickly and sometimes demented drones of cacophony are twisted and doctored in new ways and make for more compelling listening. In "News From Nowhere," it sounds as if recordings of dive-bombing war planes have been intertwined and distorted, which is only part of the thrill; there's a dubby rhythm that's equally anemic in the background. "Premonition" is the most antagonistic moment, placing a number of electro-surges behind a deep, growling voice that can only be described as comic doom. On the closing "Messages Received," the structure is similar to that of "Nag Nag Nag," but all the assaultiveness of that song is wiped away and turned into a melancholy number, helped especially by an emotionally drained vocal turn. Not as spectacular as what would follow, and not without its own set of thrills.

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