Cabaret Voltaire Conform To Deform '82 / '90. Archive;
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Designed as a companion piece to the 12" compilation The Original Sound of Sheffield, the three-disc Conform to Deform is the flip side, literally speaking in places. The first two discs, labeled Conform and Deform, trace a spiral path through Cabaret Voltaire's major-label period, compiling B-sides, alternate mixes, unreleased 12" singles, video outtakes, and more. Deform is probably a good word to use in conjunction with most of this material, as much of it is essentially other work poked and prodded, pulled into a new shape, and given a new name. The most extreme realization of the urge to deform comes two tracks into the second disc with "C.O.M.A.," which originally appeared on the flip side of the "I Want You" 12" single and consists of all of the album The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord placed through an audio blender -- well, it sounded nifty at the time. The third disc, Liveform, features the band live in Edinburgh in June of 1990, well after Cabaret Voltaire's catch-up transformation into a house act, on the tour for Groovy, Laidback and Nasty. The material on this third disc is, expectedly, mostly from this album, with a few nods to the past: There's a version of "Sensoria" dressed up as a house track, and a few old lyrics are slyly dropped into the middle of "Ride Baby Ride." The audience is polite to this new material, but if you listen between the songs you can also hear someone screaming for "Yashar" -- surely not a ringing endorsement. Ultimately, the Liveform disc is interesting, but it's hard to believe that someone shelling out money for a box set of Cabs obscurities would be clamoring for a live document from this particular period. The set comes with a booklet complete with a 1983 essay by Andy Gill, written just as the band was embarking on its major-label journey. The booklet is also filled out with words of praise from a new generation of artists who were influenced by the Cabs' collision of funk and electronics, but that praise will seem obvious to anyone dedicated enough to seek out this set of rarities. Those who really want to know why Cabaret Voltaire appealed to the hearts, minds, and feet of a whole generation of listeners and artists (many of whom went on to be the genesis of the techno movement) will be much happier with The Original Sound of Sheffield.