Cabaret Voltaire founding member and pioneering industrial musician Richard H. Kirk has died at age 65. The industrious multi-instrumentalist’s label, Mute Records, released a statement confirming his death in an Instagram post.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H. Kirk has passed away,” Mute shared. “Richard was a towering creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career. We will miss him so much. We ask that his family are given space at this time.”
No further information on the date or cause of death was available at press time.
Born in Sheffield, England, on March 21, 1956, Kirk joined fellow experimental musician Chris Watson in the early 1970s, bonding over their love of Roxy Music member Brian Eno’s experimental sound, adding vocalist-bassist Stephen Mallinder in 1973 to round out the lineup of Cabaret Voltaire. Eschewing the traditional structures of pop and rock, the provocative trio assaulted audiences with electronic and looped tape sounds.
The trio’s debut album, 1979’s Mix-Up was released on Rough Trade, and was a distillation of their abrasive attack: an often throbbing collage of relentless, bleak vocals, bleating keyboards and dry, mechanical drums interspersed with dubby bass, tape loops and industrial noise. Though they never quite caught on in the United States, the band became popular in their native U.K., landing a string of charting albums on the indie tally, including 1980’s ironically titled The Voice of America, 1981’s Red Mecca and 1983’s The Crackdown, with the latter adding a (slightly) more polished dance patina to their sound.
In all, Cabaret Voltaire released more than a dozen albums through this spring’s dark ambient drone collection BN9Drone, in addition to dozens of live collections, EPs and singles following the group’s split in 1995. Kirk rebooted the band in 2009 with the a pair of collaborative albums, and occasionally performed live as the solo remaining member of the group at European festivals in the mid-2010s with the aid of tape machines and video projections.
In the midst of Cabaret Voltaire’s busy schedule, Kirk found time to release a dozen-plus solo albums, including his solo debut, 1980’s Disposable Half-Truths. Over the years he became a most-prolific dance/house/ambient music artist under a variety of pseudonyms, including Sandoz, Electronic Eye, Agents with False Memories, Outland Assassin, Anarchia, Pat Riot, Dr. Xavier and Sweet Exorcist (along with British DJ Parrot. Kirk’s final solo album was 2017’s Dasein.
See Mute Record’s announcement below:
Check out some of Kirk’s work below.