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Kraftwerk - The Mix CD (album) cover

THE MIX

Kraftwerk

 

Progressive Electronic

2.74 | 46 ratings

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Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Following the somewhat underwhelming Electric cafe, Kraftwerk once again went into hibernation for a few years. During this period there were some significant developments - the Kling Klang studio was converted from analog to digital, and the entire apparatus was redesigned so that Kraftwerk could take their entire studio on tour with them and reassemble it wherever they played. In addition to this, first Wolfgang Flur and then Karl Bartos left the band, to be replaced by Fritz Hilpert (and later Henning Schmitz). The first product to emerge from this new set up was the misleadingly titled The Mix - misleading because Kraftwerk did not remix their older songs but re recorded them from scratch. The resulting album is a curious hybrid - not exactly the best of, and not exactly a remix album. Thankfully, it is a very strong collection - it's a good introduction for the newcomer, while the new versions of the older material are sufficiently different to be interesting for established fans.

The album gets off to a shaky start with The Robots being given a house music makeover. Given their enormous influence on the genre, it's a perfectly fitting thing for Kraftwerk to do, but The Robots is not a great choice of song for an e-generation remake. The original was all hard edges and angular electronica, and the smoothing out process here does it no favours - Metropolis or Neon Lights would have worked better. Following this, however, things pick up nicely. Computer Love reworks one of their warmer, more human tracks to great effect, while Pocket Calculator/Dentaku (a Japanese version of Numbers) puts a highly effective gloss on one of Computer World's lesser moments. The real treat in the first half is Autobahn, which is taken down to just under half of the length of the original without sacrificing any of the charm, melodic invention or rhythmic drive, while the beefed up bassline gives the piece added impetus.

The second half sees another house styled makeover, this time on Radioactivity, here recast as an anti nuclear anthem. While some of the teasing ambiguity of the original is lost, the grim roll call of 'Sellafield - Chernobyl - Hiroshima...' is highly effective and the piece really works well in this new version (and it remains an on stage favourite). Trans Europe Express/Metal on Metal/Abzug gives the main themes of TEE a highly effective makeover, before a trance reworking of Home Computer leads the album towards its conclusion. The joker in the pack is the final track, Music Non Stop, from the disappointing Electric Cafe. Here the themes that were spread rather flabbily across the first half of that album are condensed into a highly listenable six and a half minute trance workout, giving a tantalising glimpse of what Electric Cafe couyld have been.

If you want a Kraftwerk sampler this is a good choice - all the main albums are represented and their Mensch Machine aesthetic is effectively distilled into an enjoyable 65 minute package. If you're an established fan there's plenty to enjoy, although some of the reinterpretations remain controversial among the true fanatics. A worthy addition to one of the more influential back catalogues of the last 40 years.

Syzygy | 4/5 |

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