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A product of the same mid-'70s England industrial music community that also gave rise to Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA emerged in 1980 from the ashes of Sheffield-area bands including the Studs, Block Opposite, Veer, and They Must Be Russians as well as the Future, an early incarnation of the Human League. After a series of shifting lineups, a roster comprised of vocalist Adi Newton, bassist Steven Taylor, guitarist Paul Widger, saxophonist Charlie Collins, and drummer Roger Quail recorded Clock DVA's debut, White Souls in Black Suits, a cassette-only improvisational release fusing metallic noise with funk and soul designs that was issued on Throbbing Gristle's Industrial label.

In 1981, the group issued Thirst, which abandoned R&B accouterments in favor of edgy, abrasive electronic noise. Following its release, all of Clock DVA except Newton defected to form Box; after assembling a new lineup of saxophonist Paul Browse, future Siouxsie and the Banshees guitarist John Carruthers, bassist Dean Dennis, and drummer Nick Sanderson, Newton wrangled a major-label deal with Polydor, and Clock DVA soon resurfaced with 1983's Advantage, an intense montage of dance beats, piercing feedback, and jarring tape manipulations. However, Carruthers and Sanderson both exited following the LP's release; after a brief attempt to forge on as a trio, Clock DVA disbanded in late 1983.

Newton subsequently turned his focus to the Anti Group, an industrial jazz and visual arts project created in tandem with engineer Robert Baker; after a series of singles, he re-formed Clock DVA in 1988 with Browse and Dennis, releasing the sample-fueled 1988 EPs The Hacker and The Act, as well as 1990's full-length Buried Dreams, on the Wax Trax label. By 1991's Transitional Voices, Newton's Anti Group partner Baker had replaced Browse; Dennis departed soon after, leaving the remaining duo to record a staggeringly prolific amount of material including 1992's Man-Amplified, 1993's Sign, Black Words on White Paper and Virtual Reality Handbook, 1994's Iso-Erotic Calibrations, and 1995's Anterior. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi