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Kraftwerk - Tour De France Soundtracks CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.36 | 123 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars From cars to trains to bicycles in 30 years

In my opinion, this 2003 album was a return to form for Kraftwerk and their best and most progressive album since Trans-Europe Express from 1977! After their heavy flirtations with Synth Pop with Electric Café in the mid 80's and their Dance music influenced re-makes of older material with The Mix in the early 90's, there was nothing but a long period of silence from the group. Tour De France - Soundtracks was their first proper album in almost 20 years and they once again opted for a concept album in line with Autobahn and Trans- Europe Express from the 70's. Automobiles on the German motorways and trains on the European railways have here been replaced by bicycles on the French roads. To me it seems as if Kraftwerk did their best works when they drew inspiration from some kind of vehicles moving forward in some way, it somehow helps them to get that essential propulsive "drive" in the music and the rhythms lends themselves very well to imagery of different kinds of transportation and forward-moving-ness. It gives the music a natural flow and progression as well as a sense of direction.

The sound of Tour De France - Soundtracks is modern, but it still bears all of the combo's old trademarks. It is conceptual, it is electronic and it has some humor. They are not trying to be something they are not here and this album sits well beside their classic output from the 70's and early 80's. If I'm not mistaken, the title track that closes this album is a new version of a non-album single that was originally released in 1983. It makes you wish they had done this album at the time instead of the weak Electric Café, it would surely have been a much better follow-up to Computer World.

This album is probably best seen as one complete piece of music rather than a collection of individual tracks. This is especially so on the album's first five tracks that forms a kind of suite of continuous propulsive music. Some tracks do however work well as standalones, most notably Vitamin and the title track. All the themes stay within the general concept based around the famous French bicycle race. There are no verses and choruses as such and the lyrics are mostly just single words or lists of words, like Vitamin which is just a list of minerals, vitamins and other chemical substances (presumably something you would have to be very conscious of if you intend to participate in the Tour De France race).

Given the nature of the album, it is not easy to point out specific tracks. The whole thing is rather pleasant and enjoyable, even if I usually don't care much for this kind of music at all. Coming in 2003, this is naturally not in any way groundbreaking like their early albums, but it is a fine album in the distinctive style of the group with contemporary touches.

For me this is one of the better Kraftwerk albums

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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