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5 stars The perfect middle-point between their first krautrecordings and their change of direction towards pop music. More coherent than Autobahn and far less boring than Radioaktivitat. Kristallo shines as its title suggests, and with Elektrische Roulette and Tanzmusik they open the door to their future sound. Ananas Symphonie is just what its name suggests.

Report this review (#45015)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars ...and then there were two...

Another interesting release from KRAFTWERK from November 1973, the last of their Kraut albums, after this glorious Prog album we have the Techno nonsense that follows.

This time we have a bit more melody with this album, their third album, Ralf & Florian, had a more electronic appearance towards it this time, but still good enough with it's PROG disipline.

The opening track is a pinball heaven soundtrack to any pub loving people, space rock and cosmic feel is a lovely gem with whizzing synths and sound effects.5/5!!!

The multi-tracked flute opening on "Tongebirge", with buzzy synthesizers give it that 70s PROG feeling, and is a very beautiful track 4/5!!!

"Kristallo" is a two channel space rock track with a electronic moog solo played like a piano in the one speaker and a fuzzy pulsating synthesizer in the other speaker, then it fades out and back in again with tape effects, and this honky tonk piano and whizzy synth then kicks in, following a trippy tape loop agin, not a favourite, bit irritating, 3/5!!!

"Heimatklange" brings side 1 to a close, a beautiful epic symphonic flute and piano orientated track, 4/5!!!

"Tanzmusik" opens side 2, with a electric fender rhodes piano riff that then plays aside with those electronic drums sounds, blended with bells, spacey tingly sounds and handclaps, very zany, but by heck it is lush, a blueprint for dance music, as the title speaks for itself, 5/5!!! The closier of the album is "Ananas Symphonie" (Pineapple Symphony), and is a chillout hawaiian sounding track with smooth moog sounds looped together, and a funky beach slide guitar sound courtesy of Florian Schneider, there is vocoders used on this track for the robotic voice, the future vocal of KRAFTWERK. the longest track clocking at over 13 minutes of semi electronica and a smooth 4/5!!!.

Eventually released elsewhere like the USA in 1974 on Vertigo and the back cover is a contrast to the front cover, but the back has Ralf and Florian in a colour format whilst the front, is a eerie black and white as it is beautiful yet disturbing portrait of them!!!

A sad story this is their last PROG album, but is AUTOBAHN prog or a notorius novelty pomp, in all Ralf and Florian is a overlooked, underrated, masterpiece of Krautrock!!

100% recommended to all prog fans, 10/10!!!, KRAFTWERK is a prog band (1970-1974 anyway!!), the horrid techno will follow, such a sad end to a beautiful cult Krautrock band!!!

Report this review (#66714)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another Kraut/Electronic offering from Kraftwerk!!

The fist two albums are more experimental and mechanical, this sees Kraftwerk at a more electronical and lighter appearance, the album may not appeal to latter fans of Kraftwerk.

The opener "Electrics Roulette" is rich with synths and keys, and is the only track to feature conventional drums, I believe a Farfisa Organ was played here too, a great opening track.

"Tongebirge" a wonderful, beautiful, flute orientated track, with odd synth fuzz sounds and a mini epic, very nice flute playing from Florian Schneider.

"Kristallo" is a very odd track to describe, cause it is an unusual track, it features a sequenced synths in one speaker with some various notes played and the other speaker with a Farfisa organ or Electric Piano??, I like the stereo sound layout, (organ in one speaker another in the other etc), but the keyboards play along to a rhythm machine in the background, this is a drum substitution, loads of effects and tape manipulation used too!!, again a decent listen.

"Heimatklange" another smooth track, similar to "Tongebirge", with multiple flute tracking, and piano playing in the back, very acoustic, I believe there a weird electronic noise effect in the backgroung, like a low humming sound, a more slower and mellower than "Tongebirge" this closes Side 1.

"Tanzmusik" is a proto-techno track with handclap, vocals(mellotron???), and farfisa organ driven, the song has a slow startup, and slowly builds up in other words, a fairly decent track with sound effects and odd percussion and human clap, this is the Side 2 opener track.

"Annanes Symphonie" the final track, and clocking in at almost 15 minutes, this is a semi-acoustic track until you get more into the song, into a more elctronica phrase, a weird string instrument opens the track, I think it's very orirntal sounding, until a sequenced synths kicks in, and a vocoder (robotic voice), than says the title of the song, the only song to feature a vocal phrase, but only brief, the tracks is mainly instrumental, a chill out sort of track, a nice synth played in a loop sequence, accomponied by a mellow, slide guitar, you can hear the landscape in the music, like your actually there, a very interesting track, but you will need to give this one a chance.

Ralf and Florian in general is very unusual compared to their other releases, KW1 and KW2 have a more industrial sound but this release is slightly moving away from that direction, a decent album, that equals the first two albums and gives you a clue of what the next releases would sound like. A Semi Krautrock/Electronic LP.

Report this review (#86936)
Posted Saturday, August 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I would like to call it the album of transition, simply the perfect missing link between the sonic electronic pop "Autobahn" and first primitive experimentations on amplified acoustic instruments é feedback...This album is not very popular despite that it represents a little revolution in the genre. For the first time the duo decides to mix catchy melodies, a rhythmical emphasis to sound manipulations and electronic experimentations. "Electric Roulette" is a propulsive, imaginative electronic pop composition which launch this retro- futurist vision of thinking the "robotisation" of human behaviours & tempers. The song has a rather humorous, satirical dimension without being silly, thanks to strange, enigmatic, inventive collages. "Mountain of Sound" delivers a pastoral, floating, dancing flute line accompanied by large synth/organ textures. Similar to the atmosphere delivered in "Megahertz" (on the first album) without the "hallucinatory" progression provided by the electronic / semi- acoustic orchestration. "Crystal" is a dynamic, moving electronic composition with an almost funky bass groove and very kitsch crystalline synth melodies. "Dance Music" represents the clinical pop aspect of the band, for many the decline of things, I recognize that this song has something naive and mechanical. Slightly dated but a pioneering work. An album which need several listening to be correctly appreciated.
Report this review (#108118)
Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Well this is more melodic and less experimental than their first two records. Electric piano, electronic percussion, guitar, violin, flute, synths and xylophone are some of the instruments they employ. So yes there is more of an organic sound here when compared to the albums that follow this one. I think it would be fair to say that this record is a bridge between their old sound and the new sound that would follow.

"Elektrisches Roulette" opens with sounds that pulse as well as some high frequency noises. A melody arrives before a minute.Great sound. Drums 1 1/2 minutes in with piano a minute later. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in. "Tongebirge" features flute and synth sounds that come and go. This is a spacey song that drifts along. It recalls earlier albums. I like it.

"Kristallo" features an electronic beat with what sounds like processed piano. It settles right down before 5 minutes briefly before kicking back in even louder. "Heimatlklange" opens with some beautiful piano as waves of sound come in. Great tune. "Tanzmusik" is an uptempo and catchy song. Some hand claps late. "Ananas Symphonie" is the 14 minute closer. Harp-like sounds early with processed spoken words a minute in. An electronic soundscape takes over. It changes 2 minutes in to a pastoral, spacey climate. Nice. Another change 7 minutes in as we get an electronic beat with gentle guitar as the spacey winds blow.

Well this would be my second favourite KRAFTWERK album after their debut, although if we're counting Ralf and Florian's album under the name ORGANISATION I would rank IT second and this third.

Report this review (#173151)
Posted Friday, June 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Third opus from ''Kraftwerk'' and second of the duo actually. It sounds rather pretentious right from the start: the cover, the title.

Their previous albums were just anecdotal IMO, and if they wouldn't have been famous later on, no doubt that they would have remained in the abysses of music.

This one is slightly better, and offers at least some fine pieces of music. It sounds that full experimentation has come to end and that the style which will make their immense success is well set in place here (''Kristallo'').

The ambient ''Heimatklänge'' is pleasant as well, although somewhat repetitive: but this is almost a trade mark by this band, so. Still, the global feeling remains positive so far. By no doubt my preferred ''Kraftwerk'' record up to now (but this was not very difficult).

Now, in terms of repetitiveness, ''Tanzmusik'' is doing alright. As such, it could have lasted for two or twenty minutes since so little variation is offered. One still will have to swallow six minutes of this monotonous track.

But in terms of monotony, the Palme D'Or here is definitely won by the closing ''Ananas Symphonie''. What a symphony indeed! Boring to death, extremely dull, tasteless. For some thirteen minutes. The culminating boredom point of this album.

Two stars, for the good start of this album.

Report this review (#194154)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Ralf & Florian" is the 3rd full-length studio album by German krautrock/electronic music act Kraftwerk. The album was released through Philips in October 1973. This is the album where Kraftwerk begin their transition from krautrock act to electronic music act. "Ralf & Florian" features nodes toward the electronic style that Kraftwerk would play on later releases but there are still krautrock elements on the album too.

The more extensive use of synths and electronic devices provides the music on "Ralf & Florian" with a new dimension compared to the first two albums by Kraftwerk. The structure of the tracks are still rather experimental though and even though tracks like "Kristallo" and "Tanzmusik" have repetitive beats there are still lots of more ambient experiments on the album.

I understand this is a very influential, and back then probably quite futuristic sounding album release, but to my ears large portions of the music sound directionless and experimental for the sake of it. Like odd ambient background music, which creates little emotional impact. A 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

Report this review (#239333)
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ralf & Florian is the album where Kraftwerk started to sound like Kraftwerk that we all know and love so much. The electronic experimentations from the last album have finally worked their way into intertwining with the music instead of just being junky noise. This isn't quite the Kraftwerk robo-electro progressive pop yet, though. This album is equal parts progressive electronic and krautrock, but you can hear the obvious development in sound that would become to define Kraftwerk.

"Elektrisches Roulette" sounds like a very poppy krautrock track, and is fun and springing with happiness and energy. Think a sped up Neu! "Tongebirge" always sounded to me like Yes' "The Fish" with ambient modification as done by Brian Eno. "Kristallo" is an obvious precursor to the additional tracks found on the Autobahn LP. "Heimatklange" is a soft keyboard track with a steady electronic drone in the back, and it serves the purpose of being a beautiful intermission before the last two (and best) tracks. "Tanzmusik" is a very danceable track with a fluttery, butterfly-like melodies. This track also seems like an obvious comparison to Neu! "Ananas Symphonie" is a great progressive electronic/ambient combination track, and is the most notable track on the album. It's the longest track and it moves through various soft passages and includes fine field-recording manipulations that really give it an organic vs. inorganic vibe.

Ralf & Florian is one of my personal favorite Kraftwerk albums. It really puts on display the slightly primitive electronic experimentations that would eventually develop to become the trademark Kraftkwerk sound. This album is also a perfect merging of krautrock and progressive electronic, done in a way that I've not actually heard before, which makes this album seem like one of a kind. A definite masterpiece.

Report this review (#438652)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ralf and Florian finds Kraftwerk expanding their use of electronics and synthesisers. but whilst there's a wealth of experimentation going on here I find it rather unsatisfying. The overall impression created by the album is of walking in on the band as they try to work out what to do with all these cool toys - so they try a bit of noise here, some odd vocals there, and generally fiddle about with concepts that other Krautrock bands had already explored far more thoroughly at this point in time. I suppose it is interesting to see the guys fumble their way towards the cool electronic sound which would rocket them to stardom, but on this album they have a long way to go before they get there.
Report this review (#507699)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars In my very last year as teenager, I was to be one of the many who'd be marked for years by the album Autobahn. I would have then to spend 37 more years before finally discovering the present album from 1973! I missed it in the 70's and started my Kraftwerk flip time directly with Autobahn. What surprises me today is in fact the huge musical change that only one year brought! While Autobahn was seducing with its hypnotic repetitive simple motives and quasi bare musical bones, Ralph & Florian revealed to me some aspects I'd never thought of while talking Kraftwerk; there is a creativity flowing in many musical corners, a strange halo made of improvised parts and *still to come to birth* sequenced parts; there is a melodic flow that one year later would be considerably reduced to its most simple and minimalistic form; there are many ideas of trying new techniques (reverse playing, synthesizers as rhythm objects, new sounds versus pseudo classical ones like this hapsichord emulation in "Kristallo"); there are climates that Popol Vuh could have built themselves (listen to Heimatklänge) and more yet! I'm glad to finally have filled a gap and at the same time renewed the value of the wordsay: better late than never!
Report this review (#516908)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Their self-titled third album is still the neglected stepchild in the greater Kraftwerk discography, overshadowed on one side (even today) by the raw Krautrock grunge of their earlier 'traffic cone' albums and on the other by the international success of "Autobahn". The namesake duo refuse to even recognize it anymore, and to date have never sanctioned an official CD release, frustrating many older fans in the process.

And yet it was the first Kraftwerk album to formulate anything resembling a genuine group identity. The original cover photo shows the genesis of that immaculate Kraftwerk image, embracing an ironic caricature of German efficiency that would go a long way toward selling the band around the world. Ralf still wore the shoulder-length hair of a precocious chemistry professor, but how many young musicians in 1973 were dressed and groomed as neatly as Florian, complete with nerdy musical lapel pin?

Clearly this wasn't the same team of counterculture vandals who fabricated buzz-bomb attacks on their self-titled debut LP. But for the time being the two were still in the process of shedding their primitive Krautrock epidermis. You can hear it in the crude attempts at real melodic figures, and in the punchier rhythms of "Kristallo" and "Tanzmusik". The latter in particular was a brightly laminated road map to a lucrative future: the most upbeat tune so far in their rapidly evolving catalogue, and yet still disarmingly German (if that isn't an oxymoron).

And then there's the (almost) side-long "Ananas Symphonie", an evocative tone poem to swaying palm trees and undulating native girls, strikingly out of step with other German music trends at the time. The track doesn't really arrive anywhere after nearly fourteen minutes, but like the whole album it can be a very pleasant journey, and for Ralf and Florian the song was another confident step away from the labored Teutonic experiments of the past.

Maybe the two were later embarrassed by the low-tech clutter of their home studio, as it appeared in 1973 on the album's rear sleeve. Or maybe turning their collective back on the past was a calculated ploy to increase the cult appeal of those anomalous early efforts. Either way it's a shortsighted attitude: the sleek computer world of future Kraftwerk wouldn't look the same without the man-made nuts and bolts of makeshift analog albums like this one.

Report this review (#964414)
Posted Thursday, May 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ralf and Florian is the third studio album from electronic group Kraftwerk. While the strange Kraftwerk 2 didn't feature any electronic elements as well as having little to do with the self-titled debut, Ralf and Florian (named after the duo themselves, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider) shows the first signs of the groups pioneering electronic sound. It would take Autobahn for these ideas to fully take form, as there are still remnants of the band's Krautrock beginnings, but that has no effect on the quality of this release.

The thing that sets Ralf and Florian apart from it's predecessors is that they took the best elements of their Krautrock style and melded it with classical music and the very beginning of electronic music. "Kristallo (Crystals)" shows these beginnings of an entirely new kind of music, and is one of my favorite Kraftwerk songs in general. In front of a toe-tapping beat and catchy galloping electronics, are serene keyboards with a slight bittersweet tone. "Ananas Symphonie (Pineapple Symphony)" features more electronic innovation, but on the ambient end. This is a very relaxing track, as well as the longest clocking in at just under 14 minutes, with subtle musical changes that mix together very naturally. It's a song that makes one feel like laying down on a hammock outside and just letting the stress float away. "Heimatklänge (The Bells of Home)" showcase the influences from classical music, in the form of soulful piano.

Often transitional albums will suffer from inconsistency, but Kraftwerk were able to take the styles they knew and blend them perfectly with new ideas. This is an album that sounds both focused and free at the same time, with a goal to create music but with the only boundary being the band's own creativity. Unfortunately overshadowed by Autobahn, Ralf and Florian deserves to be heard as it's both a very enjoyable and historically important album.

Report this review (#1536460)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2016 | Review Permalink

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