September 21, 2021
The Cabaret Voltaire musician exemplified Sheffield’s experimental mindset and transformed British club music• Richard H Kirk, founding member of Cabaret Voltaire, dies aged 65
Richard H Kirk was prolific, hungry, angry and funky to the end
It’s fairly said that Richard H Kirk revolutionised music more than once. He’ll be remembered most widely for his work in Cabaret Voltaire, the band (or as they preferred, art project) he started in 1973 with Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson, and which laid the groundwork for electro-pop, industrial and even punk. But the Sheffield-born musician’s own electronic club music projects have a strong claim to being just as world-changing – Kirk was one of the first artists to release on local institution Warp Records, and he cemented a uniquely British bass-heavy approach to dance music. Throughout the subsequent decades, he never once stood still or looked back, making unique records to the end.
In no small part, that’s down to a very particular strain of local bloodymindedness. Kirk was born and lived his whole life in the capital of the “People’s Republic of South Yorkshire” and epitomised the combination of bluntness, self-effacement and love of experimentation that has fuelled the city’s close-knit scene over the years. Plus, Sheffield loves to dance: from Clock DVA and the Human League through Moloko and Pulp to Toddla T, that character shines through (and every one of those acts has a direct Kirk connection to boot).
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