Tone 12 – Richard H. Kirk “Loopstatic”

CD – 8 tracks

Track list:

1 Devil In Your Name (8:22)
2 All In Vain (7:54)
3 With False Identity (9:43)
4 Chemicals And Easter Bunnies (6:40)
5 Do You Transmit? (6:19)
6 One Zero (8:18)
7 Get Our Heads Straight (6:35)
8 Monday Morning (6:55)


Richard H. Kirk is one of those Electronic music producers who seems content to have found his groove, and stuck with it to good result for years, refining, developing, tweaking his sound palette into variations on themes he long ago helped pioneer in the justifiably lauded Cabaret Voltaire. As the title indicates, LoopStatic cycles its way though as many permutations of ring modulation as Kirk can imagine, and he’s had more experience than most with making a groove unwind itself and reform into something else along the way for good measure. Given the resonant properties of his chosen instrumentation, the ecstatic tones generated throughout are sinuous whorls of analogue synthesis, at once familiar and open to the additions and subtractions of beats and pieces, breaks and burbles. Phasing washes of pink noise, cluttered undertows of samples fragments, that sort of thing.

Above all, there is the politicised intent, the paranoiac edge of TV speak recursively referenced to show that the one thing about multimedia paranoia is that it’s usually justified. “Do You Transmit” he asks, and shoves in some hypertrophied breakbeats and pheumatic rhythms; reception is not always clear, the bombardment of voice and basskisck gets into the backbrain and sometimes even gets stuck there. In a loop. The rush generated is more amphetamine psychosis than E-fuelled blitzdance, with an urgent desire for shelter from the noise, but loving it too at the same time. They really are watching; all the time, even if it’s time-lapsed single frames per minute rates of bus-top observation and subway corner convex mirror surveillance.

Go to a club and the management have the authority to treat their audience as supsects; and maybe they are at that. Go to see Mr. Kirk at a squat party and he’d make you feel like that too. Edgy, never settling down, despite the repetition. “Chemicals And Easter Bunnies” are the pounded-in targets of the Christian Fundamentalist immoral minority, and Kirk likes nothing better than to lampoon them through the displaced sampling of their tirades, offsetting the knee-jerk beats with shivery coils of sinewave stutter for those who revel in bucking the preaher’s pompous teachings. Unlike the Industrial Dancers of old, the vocal loops are now deployed somewhat more carefully, and the message doesn’t rely so much on endless hammering repeats for effect, but on more subtle interaction with the rhythms and the pitch-bent silences. Millennial idolatry of Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny? On drugs? You betcha sickly-sweet Jesus it’s true, the decadent society is in full swing, and Richard Kirk is watching and recording…

-Freq1C- (UK):

A man who needs no introduction. He of Cabaret Voltaire, Electronic Eye, Sweet Exorcist and Al Jabr notoriety, he of prodigious, challenging output, here adding to that legacy. Note the title – a sign of our cellular, microchip driven age? The static that is inevitable in all forms of communication? “With False Identity” encompasses these and other questions through techno beats that reflect the repetition of our work-centred lives, overdriven synth sequences that explode like bullet fragments in a Midwest shopping mall massacre and the urgency of an artist who hasn’t ceased reinventing himself for the past 15 years. Snippets of news broadcasts and quiet pulses haunt “Crimes Against Humanity”, which examines the consequences for leaders like Augusto Pinochet or Ratko Miladic. The rough edges and driving rhythms of “All In Vain” are reflective of the best of the Cabs dance material while taking further compositional sharp turns. For a man who quite frequently releases three or four albums in a year, “LoopStatic” remains a fresh vision of our electronic age distilled with a cynic’s candor. (Derek Gray, XLR8R, USA)

Jesus Castillo (Spain):

Es indudable que dentro del vertiginoso catálogo vanguardista de Touch, RICHARD H. KIRK es, junto a Scala, el artista más standard y “comercial” del lote. Ya grabó un disco para este sello, “Darkness at Noon”, y ahora regresa con ocho temas nuevos que se ven reducidos a sólo cuatro (uno de ellos no incluido en el CD: “Crimes against humanity”) en la versión de vinilo. Como casi toda su obra, “Loopstatic” es un disco de electrónica adyacente al trance, un cruce más o menos razonable de experimentación y rítmica obtusa que en manos de otros no tendría gracia alguna y que RICHARD H. KIRK logra al menos dignificar, sin más. Aunque en ocasiones se vuelve más extremo y más volcado hacia sonidos abstractos, “Loopstatic” es otro ejemplo de la labor de un personaje controvertido, sobre todo cuando atendemos a las razones más o menos sociopolíticas que dan lugar a su amplia obra. ¿Trance político? Algo así.

The Wire (UK):

I don’t imagine I’m alone in having lost interest in Richard H. Kirk’s musical career some time ago. A couple of lacklustre albums were all it took to divert attention elesewhere. His first group Cabaret Voltaire were pioneers of sorts, fringe heroes to the new Sheffield Techno generation, and after they split, Kirk’s music (apart from his Sweet Exorcist project) always seemed to be fighting to catch up. Picking up the two most recent discs from a copious discography, it’s a great surprise to hear that he’s very much back on form.

The LoopStatic release is subtitled Armine Beta Ring Modulations, although its not immediatelty evident why. It offers highly functional Techno in a variety of moods, about as far from the cutting edge as a blunted antique scythe, but it’s still surprisingly satisfying. Simulated siren tones, 4/4 bass pulse, gravity defying sonic abysses, oscillating ostinatos and all the other bargain bin cliches of late 80s techno find their place in the stew. Still, if the music is often a high energy blunder-beat stereotype with a taste for cheap melodrama, it also finds time to depart from the dancefloor and create a more thoughtful space for itself amid the crowd pleasing locomotion. [Brian Duguid]