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Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität] CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.18 | 202 ratings

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5 stars The main question to this review is why I regard this album essential. I give it that it is not a prog-rock essential album, instead it is something quite more important: a XX century essential music album. I don't even like all songs in there, yet there is something that glues the whole album together as an other-wordly experience: Kraftwerk's artistic concept being fully and consistently expressed for the first time. This album paved the way for electronic music as a popular genre. Plus, it is one of the few albums I enjoyed first listening on tape (insert Tubular Bells joke here, I'll just say I went straight into The Nostalgia Factory in this sentence.) If you are aware of Kraftwerk's artisitic concept, then you now that Radioactivity is the big deal. The extent to which one can like the album, well... it's a matter of tastes.

Radioactivity showcases the following traits that make up most of Kraftwerk's identity: 1) Songs reflecting the influence technology in the XX century. Just think of the effects of radio (as media) and radioactivity in society. No one today can say their lives haven't been somehow changed by these two scientific breakthroughs. Kraftwerk even changed the lyrics of Radioactivity from the 90's and onwards to raise awareness on the downturns of this discovery. 2) Minimalistic approach. Yes, there are two eras in Kraftwerk's sound: free improvisation in the krautrock era, and minimalism as of this album which is the onset of Kraftwerk's electronic era. 3) Multilingualism. There are many songs of this album recorded or played live in several languages, including German, English and Japanese. 4) Concept albums. This is the first honest-to-true concept album of Kraftwerk. 5) Embracing electronic effects. Well, this existed throughout Kraftwerk's history, but this album is pivotal in this regard. From then onwards, Kraftwerk would try to use as much technology as possible to play their songs. Live shows nowadays include a VJ playing 3D projections, by the way. 6) Detachment. Part of Kraftwerk's appeal lies in reflecting societies' trend to alienation through technology. This album attempts to recreate this through the construction of musical atmosphere, though I believe this trait to be first fully realized in The Man Machine.

Song-wise, Geiger Counter, Radioactivity, Airwaves and Ohm Sweet Ohm are the best in the album. Others, I don't like that much, but as I said, album-wise it is an engaging experience. Plus, Ohm Sweet Ohm makes an excellent climax as the album's ending. Other songs in the realm of prog I can think of that can have the same effect in their respective albums are: Eclipse, Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts VI-IX, Dark Matter, Feel So Low, and In the Court of the Crimson King.

Emiliano | 5/5 |


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