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Kraftwerk - Computer World [Aka: Computerwelt] CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.83 | 230 ratings

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4 stars Following the excellent Man Machine album, it took Kraftwerk 3 years to produce a follow up. At the time, Computer World seemed like a disappointment to some; it was less than 35 minutes long, and the track Pocket Calculator seemed like a welcome dose of humour to some and like an irritating novelty track to many. The intervening years have been kind to this album, however, and while it is not quite up to the standard of Man Machine musically, it now seems like a spookily accurate vision of the future.

The album gets off to a strong start, with 'Interpol and Deutsche Bank, FBI and Scotland Yard' being the main players in the Computer World of the title: data is king, and these are the organisations who monitor and control it. Kraftwerk were always ambiguous about the technology they wrote about, and what seemed almost like paranoia in the early 80s now seems like a remarkably accurate vision of the digital age we live in today. Pocket Calculator follows, something of a concert favourite where audience members were encouraged to play their own musical calculators and similar devices during the song. The novelty wears off pretty quickly - if they'd had sufficient material, this could have made a worthy b-side to a single, but it lets down an otherwise strong album. The first half continues with Numbers, which is the punk 1-2-3-4 intro recited in different languages (including Japanese) over a minimal electronic backing, which segues into a reprise of the main Computer World theme.

The second half of the album makes up for any shortcomings that may exist in the first. Computer Love is where Kraftwerk expose the human heart that beats somewhere inside all of their work, and the subject matter - looking for romance via the computer - again seems like a glimpse of the future, this time of chatrooms, forums and online dating. It's also a singularly heartfelt and moving piece - perhaps the best song in this style that Kraftwerk ever produced. Home Computer is another prescient song - 'I programme my home computer/Beam myself into the future' - and is another musically strong effort. The closing track, It's More Fun To Compute, is a solid Kraftwek song but not as memorable as the two tracks which precede it.

Computer World was a hugely influential album, and effectively ended a remarkable sequence which began in 1974 with Autobahn. Kraftwerk were by no means a spent force, but after this album they would never sound quite so futuristic again.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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