Clock DVA has been described simply as, "One of a batch of groups forming the so-called Industrial scene of Sheffield, [Yorkshire, England]."2 From its beginning in 1978 to the present, the band has constantly experimented with its own sound and employed a shifting roster of musicians. This doesn't make it a simple band to describe.
The band has many influences from a variety of media sources, most notably Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange and the Nadsat language in its glossary. The Clock aspect of the band's name is not only a reference to Burgess's novel, but also a symbol for the surreal and "the mechanics of time."1 The explanation for DVA, which means 2 in Russian, can be found on the sleeve notes in the Buried Dreams album, where its cabalistic and numerological references are described. In the Russian language, "dva" is pronounced "dee-vah;" however, the group pronounces it as "dee-veh." The members of Clock DVA have also been influenced by futuristic movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, authors including J.G. Ballard, and other bands such as Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle.
Clock DVA's earliest recordings were electronic ambient music pieces created to provide audio therapy. By 1982 the band desired to extend its scope beyond its Industrial beginnings, adding several horn instruments and creating a "kind of avant-garde jazz funk new wave electro fusion" with "Gothic overtones."1 However, in 1985, the group moved away from live sound, frontman Adi Newton stating, "I only use computers now. I used to play the trumpet and the clarinet, but I found them too restrictive. The computer, because of its open architecture, is a more interesting device."1 The band continued with this computer-processed sound through its remaining albums.
I've found Clock DVA's albums notoriously difficult to find in typical music vendors like Borders, National Record Mart, or FYE, but many online stores carry their recordings. Some of the albums are out of print. Collective is the easiest to find and provides a partial overview of the evolution of their sound. It includes many of the band's best pieces such as Voice Recognition Test (my personal favorite), The Hacker (perhaps their most famous), and Bitstream (my least favorite, it's the cheeziest). This album focuses on Clock DVA's electronic/synthesizied sound, and doesn't include any of their earlier, more raw-sounding songs like 4 Hours from Thirst or Beautiful Losers (inspired by late band member Stephen Turner) from the critically acclaimed Advantage album.
Clock DVA's music is definitely on the dark side. It is not meant to be played too loudly, and it will never pump through your speakers, although you can dance to many of the pieces. Instead, the dire music seeps in, sometimes like a warped strobe light, other times casting a filter on your world like the sun receding in an eclipse (in what's been termed an electro-dirge). Adi Newton's vocals, although not unpleasant, still tend to grate against the psyche--exactly what the band intends. It's precisely the band I'll enjoy when I'm not depressed or mellow enough to listen to Joy Division, but still want to wallow in my dark mood.
Clock DVA group members:
The band has undergone so many shifts in its membership that exact arrival and departure of some of its members can only be estimated, even using a variety of sources.
Adolph "Adi" Newton (1978-present) - vocals, trumpet, tapes, EMS
Stephen James "Judd" Turner (1978-1981) - Bass, Treatments
David James Hammond (1978-1982?) - Guitar, Treatments
Simon Mark Elliot-Kemp (1978-1983?) - Electronics, Synthesizer
Roger Quail (1980-1981) - Drums
Charlie Collins (1980-1981) - Saxophone
Paul Widger (1981-1981) - Guitar
Paul Browse (1981-present) - Saxophone
John Valatine Carruthers (1981-1987) - Guitar
Michael Ward (1982-1988?) - Flute, Saxophone
Shaun Ward (1982-?)
Dean Dennis (1983-1993)
Nick Sanderson (1982-1988?)
Robert E. Baker (1990-present)
Ari Newton (1992-1993) - live support
Maurizio Fasolo (1992-1993) - live support
Andrew Mackenzie (1992-1993) - live support
White Souls In Black Suits (cassette only) (Industrial 1980)
Thirst (Fetish 1981)
Advantage (Polydor 1983)
Buried Dreams (Interfish 1989)
Buried Dreams (remastered) (Nextera 1989)
Transitional Voices (Amphetamine Reptile 1991)
Man-Amplified (Contempo 1992)
Digital Soundtrack (Contempo 1993)
Sign (Contempo 1993)
Black Words On White Paper (Contempo 1993)
Virtual Reality Handbook (Contempo 1993)
50 Erotic Calibrations (Contempo 1994)
Collective (Cleopatra 1994)
Anterior (Contempo 1995)
Kinetic Engineering (Video Music, Inc.)
There is the rumor that Jeffrey Dahmer was listening to Clock DVA's Buried Dreams right before he was arrested by the police. Although Clock DVA pieces such as The Hacker are obviously about computer-related subjects, many of the tracks from Buried Dreams concern serial killers and personalities such as the Marquis De Sade; the title of the album is also the title of a 1986 investigative book about serial killer John Wayne Gacy by Tim Cahill and Russ Ewing. Frontman Adi Newton reacts, "Initially I was quite surprised, but then it occurred to me that as an individual there is no legitimate reason for him not to listen to Buried Dreams, or for that matter any other recording that is commercially available. I suppose the context of Buried Dreams opens it to interpretation of any kind."3
Official Clock DVA website:
Other Internet sources:
7. Nicholas Joseph Ferro