The band formed in Sheffield in 1973 and experimented widely with sound creation and processing. Some of these early experiments were first documented on the Industrial Records cassette '1974-1976' (1980), then later on the triple album CD set 'Methodology '74/'78: The Attic Tapes' (Mute 2002). They eventually turned to live performance, often sharing the bill with Joy Division. In one incident, Mallinder was hospitalised with a chipped backbone after the band had objects thrown at them. However, the arrival of punk rock brought a more accepting audience for their industrial, electronic sound and they were championed by Sheffield punk fanzine "Gunrubber" edited by Paul Bower of local band 2.3.
In 1978, Cabaret Voltaire signed to Rough Trade Records. With Rough Trade they released several acclaimed musically experimental singles and EPs, including 'Extended Play', 'Nag Nag Nag' and 'Three Mantras', and albums such as 'The Voice of America' in 1980, and 'Red Mecca' in 1981. The 27th June 1978 edition of NME had a review by Andy Gill who said "I firmly believe Cabaret Voltaire will turn out to be one of the most important new bands to achieve wider recognition this year. Wait and see." And, certainly, years later they were seen as one of the bands that instigated the electronic music scene. Watson left the band in 1981 to work for Tyne Tees Television and went on to found The Hafler Trio with Andrew M. McKenzie before becoming a BBC sound engineer and then a soloist. On 25 June 1981 the band performmed on the John Peel show and performed 4 songs recorded by the BBC: "Black Mask", "Greensborough", "Walls of Jericho" and "Jazz the Glass".
During this time, Cabaret Voltaire toured Europe, Japan and America without major record label support, releasing 'Hai!', a live album recorded in Japan, in 1982. In late 1982, Cabaret Voltaire decided consciously to turn in a more commercial direction. The group enlisted American dance music producer John Robie to remix "Yashar", a track from their 1982 album '2x45'. The 12-inch single was released by Factory Records in May 1983, and received extensive play in dance clubs. In August 1983, the album 'The Crackdown' was released on Some Bizzare / Virgin Records and reached number 31 in the UK Albums Chart -over 60 places higher than their previous (and then only) chart placing. In 1984, the singles 'Sensoria' and 'James Brown' from the album 'Micro-Phonies' (also on Virgin) charted on the UK Indie Chart, as well as getting play in the underground dance scene.
In 1987, the band released 'Code', on several tracks of which Bill Nelson played guitar. This was followed by the house-influenced 'Groovy, Laidback & Nasty' in 1990. A series of completely instrumental works under the Cabaret Voltaire name were released on Instinct Records in 1993 and 1994. The last Cabaret Voltaire release to feature Mallinder on vocals was the 'Body and Soul' album in 1991. Since the mid-late 1980s, Kirk began a solo career under several names, including Electronic Eye and Sandoz, while Mallinder relocated to Perth, Australia and records with a collaborator under the name Sassi & Loco and, more recently, in another collaborative effort the Ku-Ling Bros. Mallinder also helps run his own Offworld Sounds label and contributed to synthesizer and programming on Shaun Ryder's solo album 'Amateur Night at the Big Top'.
In 1996, Mallinder reported to Inpress magazine's Andrez Bergen that "I do think the manipulation of sound in our early days -the physical act of cutting up tapes, creating tape loops and all that- has a strong reference to Burroughs and Gysin; in terms of the Dada thing, there's a similarity between the Dadaists' reaction to the bourgeoisie and the war and our own position -we felt alienated from popular culture ourselves. I think those kinds of attitudes become embedded within you, but I'm not sure how it relates now...". Hopes of a Cabaret Voltaire reunion were raised when Kirk dropped hints in the late 1990s, the most significant being in the notes of a reissue of 'Radiation', but this never happened. In a special "Depeche Mode/History of Electro-pop" edition of Q magazine, Kirk suggested he is still considering resurrecting the Cabaret name, but this time he plans to "Get some young people involved".
In 2001, Watson appeared in the documentary film "Made in Sheffield", where he discussed the early years of Cabaret Voltaire. Since that time, Kirk has resurrected the Cabaret Voltaire name and has released new albums with New Zealand band Kora called 'Kora! Kora! Kora!' and Sheffield band, The Tivoli called 'National Service Rewind'. The new material was recorded at Western Works studios. The experimental "Sensoria Festival of Film and Music" is named after the Cabaret Voltaire song, and has become an annual event held in Sheffield since 2008. In July 2014, Berlin's Atonal Festival reported that Cabaret Voltaire were to perform at the festival. The performance -the first in twenty years- will see a setlist of all new material performed by a line-up "consisting solely of machines, multi-screen projections and Richard H. Kirk", the lone remaining member of the "group". [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA]