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Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity (Radio-Aktivität) CD (album) cover

RADIO-ACTIVITY (RADIO-AKTIVITÄT)

Kraftwerk

Progressive Electronic


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greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is an ordinary and basic rock electronic album. The sound has no depth and the tracks are rather not loaded. Some songs have modified vocals. The involved style is a mix of electronic beat and a bit new wave I would say. It reminds me a minimal blend of Jean Michel Jarre and Synergy. So, it is quite less sophisticated and very repetitive. Nothing is complex here. It is not bad, but it is a bit minimalist. I know Kraftwerk made better albums. I would rather recommend Synergy or Tomita if you like more elaborated electronic music.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#34609)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Following the massive and somewhat unexpected international success of Autobahn, Kraftwerk were under pressure to promote their work and to record a follow up. They recruited the fourth member of their classic line up, classically trained percussionist Karl Bartos (who would subsequently make significant contributions as a composer), toured extensively, particularly in the USA, and then returned to work on their next album. Radioactivity is half a great Kraftwerk album, which works on a number of levels but which would have benefited from more time to work on the material.

Tracks 1 - 6 took up side 1 of the original vinyl release, and this is an extended sequence of songs that is on a par with anything else they have done. The album starts with the sound of a geiger counter gradually speeding up, some sinister electronic distortions and the sound of electronically treated footsteps running away. Then we're into the title track, one of Kraftwerk's deceptively simple electro pop anthems. A morse code message is tapped out, then the first sung line is 'Radioactivity is in the air for you and me', a line which is to take on darker ramifications. This is followed up by the minimal, yearning Radioland, a hymn to the power of short wave radio (a highly important means of communication across borders in the days of the iron curtain) with a simple electronic beat and a skeletal synth melody. Kraftwerk's background in musique concrete pays dividends here; sounds from short wave radio are weaved into most of this album, but nowhere more effectively than on this track, which also provides the human heart that beats somewhere on every Kraftwerk release. This segues into the glorious upbeat Airwaves, which is almost a reprise of Autobahn's motorik rhythm and pop sensibility. The first half closes with a collage of news broadcasts about an accident at a nuclear power station - the meaning of 'Radioactivity is in the air for you and me' is given a darker twist.

Unfortunately, the powerful opening 20 minutes is followed by what sound like half realised ideas and filler. The second half of the album contains just two fully realised pieces, Antenna, which hangs around for four minutes although it makes its point in two, and the enjoyable closing piece, Ohm Sweet Ohm - despite their po faced image, Kraftwerk sometimes demonstrated a tongue in cheek sense of humour, which is deployed to great effect here. In between, Radio Stars and Uranium are atmospheric but short on content, while Transistor sounds like a sketch for a piece in the same vein as Airwaves.

Radioactivity is a highly worthwhile album which makes some good points and which contains some first rate material. It's just a pity that they didn't take a little ore time to realise their ideas fully.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#34610)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars Although the Kraftwek Oeuvre belongs partly in the ProgArchives , this album as well as the previous Autobahn and later works are really more suitable elsewhere. A classic Kraftwerk album , maybe not as good as Autobahn or Trans Europe Express or Man Machine, this is the foundation of New Wave music some five years before the advent of it. By listening to this album , you will see that Human League , O M D and consorts invented absolutely nothing. They owe it all to Kraftwerk and Neu!/La Dusseldorf.

After this short text , I believe it is pointless to try to describe the music on this album, you will have a pretty good idea to stay away from it if you do not like 80's synth pop.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#35464)
Posted Tuesday, June 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
3 stars "Radioactivity is the logical successor of "Autobahn", radically orientated to sophisticated cold electro pop music with a dose of "concrete" experimentations. The material is not as contrasted as in their two previous effort (flute, acoustic elements totally disappear after a last use in "Morgenspaziergang"). The leaders Florian Schneider & Ralf Hutter continues to confirm that they are the co-pioneers of electronic music. "Radioactivity" starts with a metronomic pulse ("Geiger Counter") which accelerates until the entry of synth choir in the background and a simplistic, catching melody accompanied by a rather plaintive voice (Radioactivity). The atmosphere of the self titled track is unmistakable (cold, vibrant and emotional). With "Radioland" the affective tension falls into a fantasist, monotonous atmosphere with radiophonic experimental sounds and vocals in German (mentioning a use of the "vocoder" system). The following track is a brief humoristic, simple, rhytmical electronic music (old dated, too naive for me). After several interludes of radiophonic programs mixed with electronic collages we have an interesting, efficient electronic tune with drum machines, cosmic noises and a strange, cold echo voice ("Antenna"). The album closes the concept with two naive electronic pieces that I find quite light and pleasant. Too sum up things this album contains distracting "artefacts", sound manipulations taken from concrete noises and good electronic pop hymns.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#39833)
Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
goyobarrios@y
4 stars Fantastic. Greatest moments of kraftwerk, almost the sound of THE MAN MACHINE, but much better in quality compare with AUTOBAHN album. The best concept album compare with COMPUTER WORLD and good ideas.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#45294)
Posted Friday, September 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Radioactivity is probably Kraftwerks Darkest Album in the 74-78 era, also the least accessible. Many of the tracks are just sound effects and wierd voices, and it makes my rating go down. The Best Songs are The Title Track, "Radioactivity", "Antenna", "Radio Stars" and "Ohm Sweet Ohm". Those are brilliant examples of early electronica. The Rest is sound experiments that can be seen as fillers. To New fans of kraftwerk, avoid this. This is mostly for collectors, like myself. I'll give it a 3!

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Send comments to Abstrakt (BETA) | Report this review (#85341)
Posted Tuesday, August 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't know if this album really deserves five stars, but that's the rating I'm going to give it.The fact is that I'd like to raise a little the average rating for "Radio-Activity", as I consider it one of the finest efforts by the band. The impression you can get from an overall listening is that, after the cybernetic "Autobahn", the Kraftwerk regained a more experimental approach to their electronic quest, indulging also in some exquisite lo-fi solutions. The title track is amazing, almost epic, the mellotron here is used better than the Moody Blues could, and the lo-fi radio effects are just adorable. The way the solemn "Radioland" shifts into the upbeat divertissement of "Airwaves" is a pure masterstroke. The forward looking futuristic dance of "Antenna" and the transfigured electronic folk of "Ohm sweet Ohm" are already history, but I wouldn't consider the other tracks just filler. If Stockhausen had written pop music, he'd surely have composed the spacey, transcendent "Radio Stars", while "Transistors" has that "Mitteleuropa" feeling which the band could interpret at its best. Finally, the "interlude" pieces are fully enjoyable, giving the album a 1970s hue which is a real feast for any prog fan ("Uranium" really sounds as if radioactivity could talk!!). Ok, a well deserved five star rating here!

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Send comments to paolo.beenees (BETA) | Report this review (#117249)
Posted Tuesday, April 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Non physical activity

In some ways, Kraftwerk have more in common with trance music than they do with prog. They tend to sit somewhere to the left of Tangerine Dream (centre) and Jean Michel Jarre (right) in the electro-prog/electro-pop spectrum, where Jarre is at the pop end.

As the follow up album to the surprisingly successful "Autobahn", "Radio activity" continues the cold, emotionless but strangely compelling electronic based sounds which are the band's trademark. After the brief sounds of the appropriately named "Geiger Counter" we are into the superb title track. The mellotron like washes here contrast superbly with the dry repetitive vocal. It is perhaps odd that sometimes such a structure should work, other times it does not. The following "Radioland" is a case in point. It is simply dull and lifeless with even the special electronic effects failing to spark life into what is essentially an electronic dirge.

Things get back on track with the more upbeat, slightly pop "Airwaves", where the floating synth and decidedly more melodic (in relative terms!) vocals combine to offer a commercially listenable piece. The song is driven on by a pulsating electronic rhythm very much in the Tangerine Dream mould. Side one concludes with a couple of brief noise tracks which appear to be nothing other than filler.

Side two is notably the more impenetrable, consisting of several more filler tracks, and a couple of more orthodox but less melodic pieces. "Antenna" and "Radio stars" combine to form a rather dull improvisation on radio interference, the constant sonar sound on the latter becoming positively irritating!

To their credit, Krafwerk remind us that they do have a sense of humour with the final track title "Ohm Sweet Ohm". The music itself is as unfunny as a car crash, but it does build nicely from a simple repetition of the title to a Farfasia organ like recital. Unfortunately the track fades just as it is becoming interesting.

While Kraftwerk deliver competent electronic music, it does not have nearly the same level of accessibility as that of their peers such as Jarre and the Tangs. For me, there is an inherent laziness in both the compositions and the performances, which detracts from the overall appeal of Krafkwerk's albums. "Radio activity" does have some appealing tracks, but it is bogged down by the indulgences which surround them.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#132263)
Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars First of all, I prefer to tell you beforehand that this review might be biased. And let me first tell you why.

I am unfortunately old enough to be a contemporary of this recording, and to be fully honest it was the first work from ''Kraftwerk'' I was in contact with. I dug into their previous repertoire after this one, but only up to ''Autobahn''. It is only ages later later that I discovered their experimental early albums, of which I am not a great and devoted fan.

I would not consider the fact of discussing if the German or English version is best; I will only tell that I have never been able to digest German lyrics (''Grobschnitt'', ''Novalis'') but that the ones from ''Kraftwerk'' were probably the most bearable.

In one word, this is a fine electronic album.

Romantically German, melodically repetitive (''Airwaves'', ''Ohm Sweet Ohm''), averagely minimalist (''Radioland''), passably funny (''Geiger Counter''). But definitely significant and precursory of the cold wave which would raise several years later. It is also obvious that such music was a deep source of inspiration for dear David in one of his masterpiece (''Low'').

When I listen now to ''Antenna'' and ''Radio Stars'', there is no question about who influenced the weird band ''Suicide'' and their extremely dark and terrifying (just listen once to ''Frankie Teardrop'' if you ever have the occasion) debut album released two years later. I witnessed them live as an opening act for .Elvis Costello in '78 and it was quite an adventure).

This was a legendary live show that ended with the band being booed off the stage and the police heavily knocked down fans after the very short, but brilliant, set of an angry Costello (forty-five minutes, no encore). The riot was prolonged outside the concert hall (Ancienne Belgique). A great souvenir, for sure!

When one listens to the full album (and not only to the title track), one has to admit that this work is far from being a commercial record. Minimalism and avant-garde are still very much present in this work (''Radio Stars''). Therefore, while the title track was aired extensively, the remaining songs of the albums were confined to a strong silence on the air waves. Needless to say that I just love the title track of course.

I would say that this album has more a pioneering flavour than really a powerful feeling of a great musical moment. As such, three stars seem to be an equitable reward to this influential release. But you could easily add one, or even two stars depending on how essential you consider this album for the huge influence it will have on the future development of electronic music.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#195352)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Radio-Activity (Radio-Aktivität)" is the 5th full-length studio album by German experimental electronic pop/rock act Kraftwerk. The album was released through Kling Klang/EMI/Capitol Records in October 1975.

The music on the album is electronic based (even more so than it´s predeccessor "Autobahn (1974)") and this time around electronic percussion, various synths (including Moog Micromoog, Minimoog and ARP Odyssey) and vocoder vocals are the dominant sounds on the album. On previous releases Kraftwerk had always utilized at least some organic instruments like violin, flute and guitar, but this time around they´ve opted for a more electronic/artificial sounding approach.

Quality wise "Radio-Activity (Radio-Aktivität)" is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some absolutely endearing moments featuring simple memorable synth themes and catchy electronic beats (the title track is the best example of this) but there are also sections and tracks that just go on and on and on with little to no changes. Endless repetition and experiements with sounds that aren´t particularly memorable. I´m sure fans of experimental electronic music will find those moments interesting, so it´s probably just a matter of aquired taste. Personally my attention wanders when Kraftwerk move into their more experimental territories.

Overall this is a very well produced, innovative and (for me personally) partially enjoyable album that deserves a 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating in my book.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#240368)
Posted Sunday, September 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Radio-Activity was made right after the very successful Autobahn, whose title track was condensed into a single that sold well on both sides of the Atlantic. By Autobahn, they'd really found their direction, what their sound was, much like Pink Floyd did with Meddle. And here, on Radio-Activity, they are faced with the task of proving their greatness.

The first song is just a taster- Geiger Counter, which is just thudding blips that sounds like- well, a Geiger Counter. This goes right into one of the best songs Kraftwerk's ever made, and possibly the very definition of the Kraftwerk Sound- Radioactivity. This is a ominous, creepy song, making excellent use of synth pads and electronic percussion to build an amazing atmosphere. Also, unlike most Kraftwerk songs, it actually has a traditional message in the lyrics- one against the use of nuclear technology- in addition to contributing to the double entendre that is the album title- the album is about both radioactivity, like with nukes, and radio activity, like activity done on radios. Radioland is a bit repetitive, and not their strongest work, but still relatively enjoyable. Airwaves picks things up again with a very enjoyable electro-pop song- years before electronica became mainstream at all. Intermission is another short pseudo-song in the vein of Geiger Counter- not there as a song, but to contribute to the concept and the texture. And here comes another one, News, which is just whispered talking with some creepy sound effects- pretty good, but still a pseudo-song. And another- The Voice of Energy is a minute of disturbing distorted voice. Antenna is another nice radio-themed electro-pop song. I don't like Radio Stars much, because I find the repetitive swirling noises somewhat irritating- and whats under it isn't that great to begin with. That goes directly into Uranium, which is yet another sub-2 minute song- it's not much more than a synth note with more vocoded vocals- not bad. Transistor is an upbeat, echoing song that reminds me of Kometenmelodie 2, except without the energy and unbridled feeling. Ohm Sweet Ohm slowly builds as drums and synths come in, and it becomes a very happy song- somewhat like being at home after a long day and feeling good. So, Radio-Activity is an inconsistent album, but it has a lot of good things to say about it- most of the tracks here are well-made and inspired, but the album's still somewhat hit-or-miss. So, three stars, recommended to fans of electronica and Kraftwerk in general.

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Send comments to Neurotarkus (BETA) | Report this review (#247718)
Posted Sunday, November 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars With Radio-Activity Kraftwerk took a next step in their set of 4 highly influential albums. To my best knowledge, there is no earlier album in rock history that created this kind of minimal electronic pop songs.

The title track is the best track here. After a short salute to Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine, Kraftwerk veers off into completely unexplored territories. Of course there was Tangerine Dream that had also used sequencers in the previous year, but they hardly inserted any melody in to their albumside long synth-drones yet, while Kraftwerk just needed 20 seconds to get to the point: a dead-catchy main theme that they just put on repeat for almost the entire length of the song. You couldn't get less prog then that.

The remainder of the tracks hasn't got much of an effect on me, except for Antenna. Though it must be said that the sequence of Antenna is almost exactly the same as Autobahn. Let's call it a first remix of own material. Well, even that was revolutionary back then.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#251001)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Radio-Activity (Radio-Aktivität) is a definite improvement over the band's break-through release which it serves as a follow up to. This is probably the Kraftwerk album that I want to enjoy more than what I tend to do. I always start off listening to it with an open mind but the material never really manages to achieve any particular goal with its existents. That doesn't mean that there aren't a few quite memorable instances featured here and there.

The title-track Radio-activity is an amazing achievement for its time and I still consider it to be the best version of the track up to the present day. I also enjoy the whole loose-concept that this album offers but honestly it doesn't work all the way through because the band is still developing their sound and therefore don't feel certain nor comfortable with their work. That could probably explain the countless remixes that the track Radio-activity has undergone throughout the years.

I consider Radio-Activity (Radio-Aktivität) to be somewhat of a relic in Kraftwerk's discography. It might not be the best album of their career but it's definitely worth checking out just for the title-track alone!

***** star songs: Radio-activity (Radioaktivitat) (6:44)

**** star songs: Geiger Counter (Geigerzahler) (1:04) Airwaves (Atherwellen) (4:53) Intermission (Sendpause) (0:15) Antenna (Antenne) (3:45) Transistor (2:15) Ohm Sweet Ohm (5:40)

*** star songs: Radioland (5:53) News (Nachrichten) (1:31) The Voice Of Energy (Die Stimme Der Energie) (0:54) Radio Stars (Radio Sterne) (3:38) Uranium (Uran) (1:24)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#259292)
Posted Monday, January 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
1 stars Achtung!

After the successful Autobahn which contained a long conceptual and distinctly progressive composition, came this much more experimental album. Paradoxically perhaps, this was also the birth of Synth Pop; if the majority of this album is truly "radio- active", a couple of songs are instead radio-friendly! While tracks like Antenna, Airwaves and the title track are rather pleasant (proto-) Synth Pop tunes, much of the rest of the album is a sonic disaster on a par with Chernobyl!

Kraftwerk experiments here with lots of different noises including assorted blips and beeps, some of which are distinctly Morse-code and others that sound like different alarms and warning signals. As this was released a couple of years before the first Star Wars movie, it is quite probable that George Lucas was inspired by this album when he created the sounds of R2D2 and other Star Wars sounds.

The album begins with a short track called Geiger Counter which is wholly based on the sound of a - surprise! - Geiger Counter. A Geiger Counter is a device used to detect whether objects emit nuclear radiation. Initially, this album seems to be radiation free, but before this opening track segues into the album's title track, the device indicates heavy radiation as if the group wanted to issue a warning to the listener! The title track then begins with a Morse- signal, presumably another nuclear warning, this time a decoded one! This track is, however, a very good one and a Kraftwerk classic so you might wonder what the warning was about really. But there is reason for all the warning signals, believe me. And often that reason is the warning signals themselves!

Radioland is a slow number based on the sounds of radios being tuned in and out of different frequencies. A surprisingly listenable tune actually! After some more R2D2 noises, we can witness the inception of Synth Pop in Airwaves, another surprisingly listenable and catchy little tune. This song is a predecessor to future songs like The Model.

This first portion of the album is actually quite interesting, but by the time you arrive at Intermission it is downhill from there. Intermission is... well, intermission. News is... news, yes it is literally a German radio news announcement! Die Stimme Der Energie (or The Voice Of Energy as the English version has it), is a spoken word piece done with a robotic voice telling us, among other things, that it is a giant electrical generator and that it is both our servant and lord. Another catchy Synth Pop tune follows in Antenna before the album starts to become seriously headache-inducing!

If you for some reason would want to go completely insane, put Radio Stars on repeat and it will take about two or maximum three plays until you achieve your bizarre goal! As if this was not enough the atonal repetitive electronic mantra continues into the next track, though it is soon replaced with another robotic spoken word passage (this time incomprehensible) over a wall of unpleasant noise!

One good song and some other decent to half-decent bits, but overall a complete nuclear disaster!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#293499)
Posted Thursday, August 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars This album doesn't get the praise that Autobahn and Trans Europe Express does, but it's more interesting and dare I say more 'proggy' than those two. More electronic and influential than Autobahn but not as well known. This is the first Kraftwerk album to not feature flute or any other non-electric instruments. Instead we get some of the first use of vocoder and an Orchestron, which is similar to a Mellotron. The only major use of vocoder before this was on the A Clockwork Orange soundtrack. After Radio-Aktivitat it became more widely used.

This is sort of a concept album about radiation and a radio broadcast. The album begins with a synth-generated Geiger Counter sound. It speeds up indicating that it has found radiation. At this point we are already into the title track. You hear Orchestron and Morse Code. Rhythmic sequencers and piano-like synth. Normal clean vocals in this song. Electronic percussion. Ends with just Orchestron. "Radioland" has tom-tom like electronic percussion. More Orchestron and clean vocals. Synth noises come and go. Later some vocoder vocals. "Airwaves"/"Atherwellen" is a poppier song similar to the groups later 'techno-pop' stuff.

"Antenne" is another poppy song with an echo/delay effect on the vocals. Lots of synth sounds on this song. "Radio Sterne/Stars" is just synths and vocoder. It sounds like someone keeps saying "down, down, down". "Uranium" is just Orchestron and vocoder. "Transister" is an instrumental with great synth. "Ohm Sweet Ohm" begins with vocoder vocals repeating the title. Around the one minute mark an electro beat starts. There is an Orchestron part which sounds like a church organ at a funeral. Gradually more electronic percussion and Orchestron appear. The tempo slowly increases throughout the song.

This is one of Kraftwerk's most consistent and proggy albums. Yet, it's still nothing essential. Very influential but also dated. This album would make a great introduction to this group for a progger. For 1975 this is progressive, but of course most of the music influenced by this is not prog. Good album anyway. 3 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#326293)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars A miserable little album amidst a sea of great recordings created by Kraftwerk.

Cringeworthy puns as song titles, a lack of strong ideas and sound with no real depth crucify this record. Minimalism is the the order of the day - which I guess was always the Kraftwerk way. The artwork suggests it may be better to hear this on old crackly vinyl - in '75 it probably sounded pretty good with shortwave radio being at it's peak . However the relevance of an old wireless in this cd age of 2011 is lost.

Limp vocals don't help things either. Easily the weakest of the five Kraftwerk 'landmark' albums. As one reviewer noted, this has stark similarities in style to OMD's 'Dazzle Ships' from '83, however 'Dazzle Ships' is a far better and more experimental album which I'd listen to any day over this. It just goes to show that being an influential album doesn't necessarily make it good. Ah well, at least it's over relatively quickly in its brief 38 minutes. Pants, I'm afraid.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#404740)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars As a huge Kraftwerk addict and owning everything they have done this is the one album that really does not deliver. It is the most forgettable Kraftwerk I have heard, including their early material!

Even "Tour de France" is better than this mess. Admittedly there are some moments of clarity that are well structured and inventive, namely the title track, Radioactivity, "it's in the air for you and me". I was reintroduced to this classic track on the wonderful indispensable DVD "Minimum Maximum" which is about the best I have seen of footage of the band. There is a Krautrock documentary available on youtube and Kraftwerk are featured prominently and this is worth checking out with some amazing footage of the early years.

After "Autobahn" the band had to follow up with a killer album as they were hot on the charts and a worldwide success in many ways. "Autobahn" was a runaway success and the fifth album for the band "Radio-Activity", a typical deadpan pun of the band commenting on radio airplay, or in their case the lack of activity, should have been an improvement, yet only reached 59 on the Canadian charts. "Autobahn" was a one hit wonder with one brilliant epic track and a lot of electronica weirdness that hardly resonates with me. Radioactivity was a single and only made an impact in France even becoming a TV theme for some weird science show. It passed by without a blip on the radar in Australia and the rest of the world apparently was no different, even Germany only gave it minimum attention.

The problem is the album goes nowhere, conceptually is muddled, and features forgettable tracks. The Hütter & Schneider produced album was created in the infamous Kling Klang studio, and is bilingual featuring both English and German, similar to the more recent Rammstein. There is some inspirational moments among a sea of mediocrity and repetitve sludge-electronica boredom.

The Vako Orchestron keyboard gives the sound of a choir merged with an organ, and this is juxtaposed with lush Moog Micromoog, ARP Odyssey and stark electronic percussion and vocoder, and vocatrax to produce a consistently cold and undefined sound. There was nothing like it at the time, making the band pioneers of the craft and systematically augmenting the Krautrock sound. Interestingly there is not a sceric of guitar, not a whisp of flute and not a screech of violin which featured on previous albums, and this actually adds to the chilling environment of bleak, sterile fridgerator sounds. The human element is eradicated and replaced by robotic mechanistic blasts of staccato bleeps. Two electronic percussionists, as one is not enough, and waves of electro excess. This trademark sound would become the absolute priority on subsequent albums such as the brilliant "Man Machine" and "Computer World". These albums are at polar opposites to "Radio-Activity".

Overall the album is an experiment in how far to take music, essentially taking 'musicianship' out of the picture, as the band were really fiddling with gadgets and creating little nuggets of keyboard motifs. They didn't just open the door to electronica, they blew the door off it's hinges! The drawcard of the album is it is evident how effectively Kraftwerk stripped away the warmth and emotions of 'humanness' in music to create the impersonal ice-cold computerised soundscape, and in this they were lightyears ahead of their time. I do not like most of the tracks on the album as they have no musical appeal, are replete with dull melodies and are a rather forgettable snorefest, apart from a few shining moments. However I have to applaud the bravery of the band's ferociously orignal approach, and this album paved the way to some of the best Krautrock-electronica on the planet.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#404762)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Radio-Activity is usually not held in such high regard. The tracks on this album are much more minimalist than on Autobahn and on the albums following this one, which makes this album seem kind of pale and boring. This album starts out sounding like their darkest and coldest album, because of songs like "Geiger-Counter", "Radio-Activity" and "Radioland", but it all eventually picks up some poppy momentum with tracks like "Airwaves" and "Antennae", both pre-dance music tracks. One thing that should be obvious after listening to this album are the short tracks that don't really add up to anything. About half of this albums is strange, electronic filler used to connect other electronic filler tracks to one another, until an actual song starts. It isn't terrible, and it really does add to the dark and dead atmosphere that Kraftwerk often create with their music, but I'm just the kind of guy who hates filler material. The album does end on "Ohm Sweet Ohm", which is a classic Kraftwerk track, and is really depressing and tired sounding. That might not sound appealing, but it is a great way to end the album.

This is a good album, and I do greatly enjoy it. However, it just isn't as solid as their other material. I wouldn't say that this isn't a good place to start with Kraftwerk, but I will say that there are better places to begin a Kraftwerk venture. Because this album isn't as good as their next few albums, I feel the need to reward this album with 3 starts. Don't be discouraged though; this is a good listen.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#438036)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 'Radio-Aktivitat' - Kraftwerk (4/10)

Following their seminal record 'Autobahn', Kraftwerk were now under the stress to release something that faithfully continued the band's legacy of electronic music. Some bands benefit under the pressure of trying to make a new masterwork, but in the case of Kraftwerk, their follow-up 'Radio-Aktivitat' ultimately feels rushed and half-baked. Although dubbed one of the first 'synth pop' records by some, Kraftwerk's sixth album does little for its listener, save for lulling them to sleep.

'Radio-Aktivitat' (German for 'Radioactivity') could be said to be a loose concept album about radios, and the music does follow a fairly similar course throughout. Seemingly scared off from the twenty minute ambient epics that made 'Autobahn' a hit, 'Radio-Aktivitat' instead veers towards shorter songs, but this does not make them any more catchy. In fact, while the 'fun, fun, fun on the Autobahn' still rings through my head, there is very little on 'Radio' that strikes a chord with me after listening. Kraftwerk opens the album on its best notes; some subdued space music led by simple vocals bathed in Kraftwerk's trademark thick accents. At least starting out, Kraftwerk keep their brand of space music quite minimalistic. There isn't too much going on at all besides a synth pattern (or two), a steady beat, and some simple lyrics. With the right inspiration, this could have worked out wonderfully, but there is a real lack in the arrangement that shows painfully with a second spin to the album.

As the album goes on, things start getting a little less hook-based, and descend into more experimental territory. While some of these ventures are interesting from a conceptual standpoint, they don't really work out on record as they should. The most blatant example is the track 'Radio Stars', which more or less consists of a looping 'bleep' that continues throughout the entire track and beyond, driving a listener to insanity within an impressive two minute span. The tight essence of Kraftwerk is not completely lacking in this album however. Especially towards the first half of this album, there is some relaxing and even pleasant pop-oriented electronic music for listeners to digest at their leisure. As a whole though, I get a very inconsistent and bland response when listening to 'Radio-Aktivitat.' Safely said, Kraftwerk has made many better albums than this.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#567114)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I seem to be going out on a limb here with my five stars for Kraftwerk's undervalued 1975 album. As of this writing, ten out of fourteen ProgArchive collaborators (a convincing 71%) all agree on its 'good, but non-essential' status, and not without reason. The general consensus is that the album was patched together under pressure to recreate another 'Autobahn', a conclusion I don't buy. Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider always enjoyed total creative control over their music, and have never failed to know exactly what they were doing. So why should this album have been any different?

I can't say I'm surprised by the prevailing low opinion of it. But when revisiting the album after several decades what I hear is the first, full realization of the classic Kraftwerk ethos. At a time when rock music (and Progressive Rock in particular) was approaching its nadir of decadence, Ralf and Florian simplified their budding commercial impulses and fashioned a unique retro-futuristic self-image, combining elegant suits and poses with antique radio equipment and state-of-the-art musical technology.

For a German band it was a brilliant aesthetic concept, leapfrogging European history from the 1930s to the 1970s as if National Socialism had never happened. A happy side-effect to the new style was that it rendered the music all but timeless, even today, and despite the dated bleeps and buzzes of all those analog synthesizers, because the image of the group itself was already backdated forty years.

From a musical standpoint it's true the album is a bit thin. Of the dozen indexed tracks maybe a third are genuine songs; the balance is effects, transitions, and cyber-social experiments. The resulting collection can seem uneven (and I'm sympathetic to that criticism), but it can also be heard as an evening's old-style radio broadcast, complete with news, intermission, and frustrating on-air equipment tests. The non-musical digressions are more frequent on the second half of the CD (Side Two of the original vinyl). But in the context of their larger career the discomforting sine-waves and primitive vocoders heard in 'Radio Stars' (which I find perversely soothing, in a comic sort of way) marked an affectionate farewell to the long-haired laboratory research of Ralf and Florian's Krautrock infancy.

The album was also hugely influential, almost singlehandedly spawning an entire generation of synth-pop imitators, especially in England. 'Autobahn', by comparison, was only a fluke: a flash-in-the-pan novelty song from a pair of reluctant rockers still clinging to their guitars and flutes. Here their true musical identity suddenly emerged whole and complete, a preview to the even more streamlined packages of 'Trans-Europe Express' and 'The Man Machine'.

All this is of course subjective. But it's important to remember that 'essential' doesn't necessarily mean 'perfect' (it might not even equate with 'good'). 'Radio-Activity' is hardly the most perfect Kraftwerk album - that would arguably be either of their subsequent two releases - but there's a lot more here than just unfulfilled potential and atonal filler. It was a glimpse of the future as it might have been imagined in 1935, performed (with deadpan irony) in the present-day of 1975, and sounding no less weirdly anachronistic as I write this in 2013.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#1054140)
Posted Saturday, October 05, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Realising they had hit on an intriguing new direction on Autobahn, Kraftwerk doubled down on the followup album Radio-Activity by relying still further on electronic instruments. This time, they experimented with the potential of crafting wholly electronic works which functioned as satisfying pop numbers as well as exercises in testing the limits of electronics. Of course, once the late-1970s/early 1980s synthpop wave hit this would all sound rather obvious, but it would be wrong to downplay the importance of this album in laying the groundwork for an entire new genre of music. At points it does feel like rough sketches towards more confident subsequent releases like Trans-Europe Express or The Man-Machine, but it's still an important release in its own right.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#1091672)
Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | Review Permalink

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