Two albums to listen to: A couple of experimental rock albums

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Cabaret Voltaire's discography varies in its quality, but never fails to experiment and try out new sounds.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pete Hill

Red Mecca – Cabaret Voltaire

After forming in Sheffield, England in 1973, Cabaret Voltaire quickly became a budding underground act. Though much of their work went unrecognized at the time, the group’s experimentation with sound processing helped create a sub-genre of performance art called industrial rock.

Throughout their career, the group fluctuated between successful experiments and unlistenable failures, but the group’s magnum opus Red Mecca is void of any shortcomings. The inspiration for the album comes from the group’s 1979 U.S. tour, when lead singer Stephen Mallinder became fascinated in Televangelists like Eugene Scott. Red Mecca compares this to the rise of political Islam and draws inspiration from the escalating issues in Afghanistan and the Iran hostage crisis. 

The album is extremely dense, but lacks no dull moments. Each song is eerie and complex, allowing the listener to interpret a track from their own point of view. Mallinder’s irritated tone combined with each song’s lack of definition creates a storm of emotions. From beat machines to organs and programmed sounds, Red Mecca highlights the future of experimental music.

Tracks to listen to: “Landslide,” “Red Mask,” “Black Mask”

Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven – Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Godspeed You! Black Emperor quickly built a reputation after the release of their first album, F# A# ∞, in 1997 as an up-and-coming post-rock group. Three years later, they released what is widely considered their best album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.

By using ambient sounds to tell a story, GY!BE created four songs that build and break down over an hour and a half. Each song has its own distinct spirit, with “Storm” featuring a frustration that grows in magnitude, and “Static,” which wanders aimlessly, exposing bleak and dark emotions.

For most of the album, emotions clash through instruments and sampled vocals to create a natural piece of experimental art.

Tracks to listen to: There are only four of them, so… just listen to them all.