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KRAFTWERK

Progressive Electronic • Germany


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Kraftwerk picture
Kraftwerk biography
Remaining one of the most influential bands in the history of popular music, we mustn't forget that KRAFTWERK typical sound is the result of many years and decades of experimentations, continuous works and researches in the possibilities offered by the acoustic, electronic and rock instruments.

In 1968, the two original members (Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter, two longstanding friends) formed ORGANISATION. The famous German producer Conny Plank helped them to record their first album "Tone Float". Historically this album figures among the first albums released in the Krautrock genre, next to recordings from CAN, AMON DUUL, TANGERINE DREAM. The tone is floating but above all largely dominated by long, free improvisations, mixing organs, electronic experimentations with acoustic percussions.

During the year 1970, R. Hutter and F. Schneider dissolved the band to form KRAFTWERK whose name means power station (in German). Klaus Dinger and Andreas Hokman join the band and record an album called "Kraftwerk". Very minimalist, the record's cover is a perfect illustration of a repetitive music made of sound manipulations, punctuated by the flute and the electronic organ parts. The atmosphere is slightly "garage", a bit noisy, sometimes ethereal and spacey (Megahertz). At this time, the band's reputation remains discreet, despite a certain success. One year later in 1971, Klaus Dinger leaves the band to form NEU! with Michael Rother. "Kraftwerk 2" is released the same year and pursues on the way defined by the previous album (a lot of experimental guitar parts, distorted sounds, repetitive rhythms, gradual process.).

In 1973, Florian Schneider decides to put the stress on electronic percussions and contemporary sound researches. "Ralf & Florian" marks a turning point in the band's career. The melodies and the sound used begins more and more pop orientated despite that the recordings strive to bring to the fore the talent of Schneider and Hutter as musicians. In 1974, a new start announces the creation of the "Kling Klang" studio; a small laboratory entirely devoted to advanced electronic researches and investments in new synthesisers. In the album "Autobahn" the Mini Moog and others synthesisers supplant definitely the improvisations and the aleatoric experimentations.

With captivated and very efficient melodies this album is the first of a long commercial success for the band. The ba...
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  • Hall Of Mirrors Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express], 1977
  • Metropolis The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine], 1978

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Computer WorldComputer World
Import
Elektra 2006
Audio CD$4.90
$4.24 (used)
Autobahn 2009 Digital RemasterAutobahn 2009 Digital Remaster
Parlophone 2009
Audio CD$8.73
$8.81 (used)
The Man Machine 2009 Digital RemasterThe Man Machine 2009 Digital Remaster
Parlophone 2009
Audio CD$9.73
$9.72 (used)
Electric CafeElectric Cafe
Import
Elektra / Wea 1990
Audio CD$9.58
$4.99 (used)
Trans-Europe ExpressTrans-Europe Express
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
Audio CD$10.39
$14.51 (used)
Tour De FranceTour De France
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
Audio CD$9.96
$8.95 (used)
Radio ActivityRadio Activity
Parlophone 2009
Vinyl$21.58
$24.21 (used)
Techno Pop [Vinyl]Techno Pop [Vinyl]
Import
EMI Import 2013
Vinyl$23.43
$20.90 (used)
Tour De FranceTour De France
Parlophone 2009
Vinyl$22.19
$27.74 (used)
Mix [Vinyl]Mix [Vinyl]
Import
EMI Import 2013
Vinyl$26.16
$28.13 (used)
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KRAFTWERK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KRAFTWERK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 130 ratings
Kraftwerk
1970
3.14 | 97 ratings
Kraftwerk 2
1971
3.52 | 92 ratings
Ralf & Florian
1973
3.51 | 273 ratings
Autobahn
1974
3.16 | 165 ratings
Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität]
1975
3.89 | 280 ratings
Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express]
1977
3.95 | 325 ratings
The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine]
1978
3.80 | 208 ratings
Computer World [Aka: Computerwelt]
1981
2.35 | 90 ratings
Electric Café [Aka: Techno Pop]
1986
3.32 | 86 ratings
Tour De France Soundtracks
2003

KRAFTWERK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.90 | 15 ratings
Concert Classics
1998
3.32 | 46 ratings
Minimum Maximum
2005

KRAFTWERK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.90 | 31 ratings
Minimum Maximum
2005
3.92 | 12 ratings
Kraftwerk And The Electronic Revolution
2008

KRAFTWERK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 10 ratings
Kraftwerk (1 and 2)
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk 2
1975
1.38 | 11 ratings
Exceller 8
1975
3.67 | 3 ratings
Pop Lions - Autobahn
1976
3.00 | 6 ratings
Doppelalbum
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kometenmelodie 2 (Compilation)
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk 1
1977
3.33 | 3 ratings
Highrail
1979
2.83 | 64 ratings
The Mix
1991
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Model
1994
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Capitol Years: Three Originals
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Kraftwerk
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk (Box Set)
1997
4.67 | 12 ratings
The Catalogue
2009

KRAFTWERK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Ruckzack
1970
3.71 | 6 ratings
Kohoutek - Kometenmelodie
1973
4.20 | 5 ratings
Kometenmelodie 2
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mitternacht / Morgenspaziergang
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Trans Europa Express
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Showroom Dummies
1977
3.00 | 1 ratings
Les Mannequins
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Das Model
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Die Roboter
1978
4.15 | 8 ratings
Neon Lights
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Computerwelt
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Numbers
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Taschenrechner
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Computer Love
1981
4.13 | 15 ratings
Tour De France
1983
4.00 | 1 ratings
Musique Non Stop
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Der Telefon Anruf
1987
4.13 | 8 ratings
Die Roboter
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Robotnik
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Showroom Dummies (1992 Single)
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Homecomputer
1997
1.56 | 7 ratings
Expo 2000
1999
4.17 | 6 ratings
Expo 2000 (Remix)
2000
3.57 | 7 ratings
Expo Remix
2001
3.71 | 7 ratings
Tour De France 2003
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Elektro Kardiogramm
2003
2.35 | 7 ratings
Aerodynamik
2007

KRAFTWERK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Computer World [Aka: Computerwelt] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.80 | 208 ratings

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Computer World [Aka: Computerwelt]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Kraftwerk's second best album

After 3 years of silence from the Germans, "Computer World" carries two heavy responsibilities. The first one is to take over from its iconic predecessor, "The Man-Machine". However, even more difficult is the second one: to open a whole new decade, the 80's, often slippery for 70's prog bands and not particularly tender for electronic music. Will KRAFTWERK succeed at fulfil these two complicated missions? So will the musicians continue to be still pioneering and pertinent in 1981? Pretty much.

Although the band had made vocations emerge for numerous young new-wave formations, and despite the style was beginning to gain huge popularity, KRAFTWERK do not follow this path. Keeping its pioneering status, the synth-pop fathers continue to pave the way for future genres to come. As a result, "Computer World" is one of their most influential release, especially for the techno genre, but also for other styles such as breakdance and even hip- hop. Featuring their coldest titles, the compositions were still ahead of their time for 1981.

Furthermore, this opus is - alongside "Tour de France Soundtracks" - the one where the thematic is the most explored all along the tracks. Personal computers were beginning to populate houses, as numerical devices, and electronic instruments were more and more common in popular music. Nowadays, the relations between human and algorithms still remains an important actuality topic.

Concerning quality and inspiration, the Germans manage to evolve again and to propose pleasant tracks on "Computer World", even if some of them are a little redundant, contrarily to its great predecessor...

Side 1 is overall nice but surprisingly not the most interesting. The title track is a very good opener and carries well its name with its synthetic blips. Cool! The playful "Pocket Calculator", whose variation is listed as "Dentaku" - its Japanese translation - at concerts, offers a few video-game sonorities but is rather monotonous and tends to become a little repetitive. The weakest passage of the album. The enigmatic "Numbers" sounds like a ramshackle calculation machine and introduces "Computer World 2", a short aerial variation of the title song.

Side 2 is the best. The soft futuristic synth-pop ballad "Computer Love" possesses some Asian accents, like YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, the Japanese KRAFTWERK. This catchy title, depicting the loneliness of the man besides his computer, will even be covered by the rock band COLDPLAY in "Talk", from their 2005 record "X&Y". On the opposite, the dark beat of "Home Computer" is simply terrific, with a mysterious decomposing electronic loop reminding "The Hall of Mirrors". Furthermore, its follow-up "It's More Fun To Compute" is even more icy and thrilling! These two tracks will be remixed by numerous bands...

At the dawn of the 80's, as other KRAFTWERK releases, "Computer World" does not follow the new-wave flow, but instead shows the way for the genres to come, more modern and innovative. No wonder the Germans has inspired Detroit Techno with their futuristic sonorities and robotic beats. A page has been definitely turned and a new chapter is about to begin.

Unfortunately, this will be the last truly influential and impacting album of the Düsseldorf pioneers. After that, the musicians will be less inspired and visionary.

Although a bit dated nowadays and not as essential as "The Man-Machine", "Computer World" still remains a fun and very good pre-techno disc, as well as their most danceable! Very recommended to electronic music lovers!

 The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 325 ratings

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The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Kraftwerk's best album

4.5 stars

Seventh studio opus by the Düsseldorf music workers, "The Man-Machine" is the first and only one to feature only original and structured songs. This tune, the band has finally refined its formula and fully focused on every title: no more experimentations, no more fillers (such as the middle tracks on "Radio-Activity") and no variations from existing themes (such as "Metal On Metal" on "Trans-Europe Express"). Clean and precise. The result is simply one of the most successful achievement of electronica in history, pioneering for the 70's and highly influential for the decades to come.

By exploring the concept of interaction between man and machine, KRAFTWERK reaches its pinnacle of his retro- futuristic ambitions, musically speaking, and instrumentally too. Way ahead of its time, this clever mixture of cold robotic sonorities with catchy melodies foreshadows multiple genres, such as techno, new-wave, synth-pop, and will become a huge success all over the world. "The Man-Machine" also marks the first participation of drummer Karl Bartos at composition.

The first side is just gorgeous. I was blown away when I discover "The Robots" and its futuristic ramshackle electro pulse. This is nearly techno... in the 70's! An anomaly, a genuine sonic meteorite, truly innovative at a time progressive electronic was just turning melodic and becoming accessible to people. This sounds even more modern than 80's new-wave and house music! Needless to say more, simply my favorite KRAFTWERK song ever! After a mysterious introduction, the dreamy "Spacelab" will softly transport you in orbit. Supported by a disco beat à la Giorgio Moroder, this classy relaxing track is a real little trip to space. Beautiful! Certainly a reference to Fritz Lang's well-known science-fiction movie, "Metropolis" is on the contrary dark and oppressive, well transcribing the retro- futuristic vibe of the city. You're running through the Kafkaian city escaping an invisible threat, like Blade Runner, a few years before! The unexpected rhythm change is great, this section has maybe inspired Chris Huelsbeck for his "Turrican" video-game soundtracks.

The second side is also good but contains a few lengthy moments. Released as a single, "The Model" is a deliciously retro catchy synth-pop tune, foreshadowing DEPECHE MODE and new-wave during the following decade. Surprisingly, although KRAFTWERK contributed to its birth, the band won't follow the genre, even in the 80's, remaining faithful to their techno-pop direction. Longest title of the disc, the floating "Neon Lights" is also the slowest. Synthesizers display an enchanting and ethereal atmosphere, slightly evolving through nice crystalline additions. Pleasant, although a bit long. The album concludes with its title song, which is unfortunately the only average passage of the record. Quite odd, as, since "Autobahn", all title songs were the best tracks of their respective opuses. This robotic tune is rather fun and playful at the beginning, but repeats itself without much variations and therefore tends to become a little monotonous.

Anyway, "The Man-Machine" remains KRAFTWERK's artistic summit and a visionary disc. By polishing their formula on each track and applying delicious melodies on futuristic sonorities, the German delivers here the best electronic pop album of the 70's, fully opening new horizons for numerous artists for the years to come.

A milestone, the one to start with if you don't know the band, and simply essential for anyone interested in electronic music in general!

 Minimum Maximum by KRAFTWERK album cover DVD/Video, 2005
3.90 | 31 ratings

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Minimum Maximum
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars If this is the future of concerts music, we should stop hiring humans to play those instruments, because we can just program our music and let the machines do the rest. Oh, yes we still have to push a few buttons... And to give a good impression to the audience, we still need some animations to go along with the music. Let's say that if you have heard many times "the guys were static on stage", you haven't seen anything yet here. So what's the point of looking at this concert? It's a way of testing your home theater to hear the impressive display of the surround sound blasting your rears speakers with special effects and keyboards sounds. Oh, yes there is the music, cold, repetitive, poppy, the perfect robot music! I wonder at times if these guys were human, they seem to talk. I am sure that they are making a parody of robotic music where we can't be sure that the music here has been created by humans... Did I forgot to say that that we have here in 2 hours of music great compositions by one of the most influential bands of that genre.4 robots!
 Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.89 | 280 ratings

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Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A highly cheesy approach to synth pop which found its way to trascend through an awesome iconic like visual concept beyond its mere boring and simplistic songwriting. KFRAFTWERK was like a joke which became relevant to most of its followers to the point of idolatry.

Most of these Trans-Europe Express, 1977, tracks repeat KRAFTWERK's formula - short sequencer riffs , electro-drumming and the "happy" hooks they are well known for. I myself have always felt disappointed with KRAFTWERK's highly inventive visual/marketing concept and the middle of the road music they actually deliver. Sadly this release just confirms my quiet low expectations.

Anyway, lots of people get their kicks from these guys in some way or another, but I can't hardly distinguish one song from the other, aside from their monotonous robotic sung lyrics.

If you could not care less for their visual concept or biography but for the music itself, as I do, well leave it to its loyal followers to lend you a copy and buy, non PA included, ULTRAVOX's "HA!-HA!-HA!", far more daring and fun and released that same year.

**2.5 PA stars.

 Ralf & Florian by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.52 | 92 ratings

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Ralf & Florian
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Pastmaster

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.

 Kraftwerk 2 by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.14 | 97 ratings

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Kraftwerk 2
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Pastmaster

2 stars Kraftwerk 2 is, as the title suggests, the second studio album from electronic band Kraftwerk. With the departure of drummer Klaus Dinger, who went to form the band Neu!, Kraftwerk was reduced to the duo of Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. With no drums, how do they continue with a Krautrock sound? Well, they don't, but it's not electronic music yet either. Instead, this is more of a "We'll do whatever weird [&*!#] we want" kind of album. There is lots of random noise to be heard here, which is not something I look for.

Don't be completely worried though, as Kraftwerk still relies on repetitive rhythms and still keeps some structure into their music. The opening song's name may sound familiar, as Kraftwerk's private recording studio Kling Klang was named after this opening track. This song takes place as the longest of the album, and the majority of it is based around a pretty boring repetitive melody. I must say though that it sounds interestingly similar to a passage in Autobahn's title track, and props to this song if it led to the creation of that masterpiece. However, it starts out with eerie out-of-tune bells and triangles, which is not pleasant listening in any way. Then you have "Atem", which is just three minutes of someone breathing, giving a pretty uncomfortable vibe plus just being useless.

The second side of the album doesn't have much going for it either, unfortunately. "Spule 4" is just mostly silence with occasional out-of-tune guitar riffs which just sound like someone plucking a guitar for the first time with no previous musical experience. "Harmonika" is just high-pitched noise, that will most likely make your ears bleed. While so far this album sounds pretty bad, there is some saving grace. "Strom" is a pretty decent song, relying on a droning riff and some symphonic instrumentation. The real winner is "Wellenlänge", which sounds like if Tool devoted an entire nine-minute long song to the experimental acoustic interludes of their albums. You hear droning bass reverb, subtle acoustic plucking with a bit of melancholic touch.

Unfortunately, Kraftwerk 2 is a step-down from the debut which had a bit more structure. It is definitely worth listening to "Wellenlänge", but the rest of the album isn't anything worth writing home about. Kraftwerk would certainly find their way on the next album, along with developing what they are known for.

 Kraftwerk by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.35 | 130 ratings

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Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Pastmaster

3 stars Kraftwerk is the self-titled debut studio album from electronic innovators Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk's first two albums are very different beasts compared to their innovations and the creation of electronic music with albums like Autobahn, being much more in line with the experimental rock music of many other German bands of the Krautrock scene. What is Krautrock? Read on fellow music fans!

At the beginning of the decade of the 70's, the time of many new musical developments, the Krautrock movement in Germany was especially busy. Krautrock wasn't so much a genre, as it was a group of musicians expanding the boundaries of rock music. Can combined tribal rhythms, psychedelic twists, and a rough proto-punk sound. Neu! essentially jammed with hard rock riffs and droning dissonance. Tangerine Dream, another early electronic group, took psychedelic rock and basically left out the rock leading to ambient music. Kraftwerk, before going on to be pioneers of electronic music, were on the similar jamming path as Neu!. This is unsurprising as Neu! was formed a year after this debut by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, who were both part of Kraftwerk before leaving to form the aforementioned band. The former playing drums on the final song on the album.

As soon as the opening flute of "Ruckzuck" enters your ears, you'll hear how much of a far-cry this is from Kraftwerk's later material. This opening doesn't last for long though, as the song quickly gaining a repetitive riff with the flute sliding into the background. The song slowly increases speed before the random jamming begins. The next song, "Stratovarius", relies more on noise to disrupt your ears. However, unlike noise "music" of today, Kraftwerk remembers that they still should write a song. Once you get past the five minutes of noise, there's some great guitar riffs and soloing to be found here. "Megaherz" is unfortunately nothing but drone and noise, with no substance to make it interesting in anyway. Fortunately, the album ends on a high note with "Von Himmel Hoch" which certainly surrounds you with a wall of sound. The English translation of the title, "From the Sky Above", is very fitting as there are sounds of bombs going off combined with chaotic drums and droning riffs.

This entirely instrumental album may bear no resemblance to the Kraftwerk we all know and love, but it's still a pretty good album for what it is. Sometimes the noise and drone can get too much, and "Megaherz" is utterly pointless, but despite this it does have enough interesting bits to keep it interesting. If you want to hear electronic music, skip to Ralf and Florian or Autobahn. However, if you like noisy Krautrock jamming, this is probably right up your alley.

 Minimum Maximum by KRAFTWERK album cover DVD/Video, 2005
3.90 | 31 ratings

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Minimum Maximum
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Emiliano

4 stars This DVD is a testament of Kraftwerk live in the 2000's. Long gone are the analog kraftwerk-crafted electronics, which have been replaced by digital samplers and effects. Yet, Kraftwerk is somehow able to retain its magic of yesteryears and its vision on technology. Should Kraftwerk launch an album today they wouldn't need to talk about computing or social media. Somehow they envisioned the effect of computers in society back in the 80's when they made Computerworld: "Control data memory."

So, what can be appealing of a Kraftwerk show in a digital age? Simple, videos synchronized to their songs. And these are aesthetically haunting. I can drool half an hour in front of the screen when watching "Vitamin". It is just so psychodelic (so take a note LSD fans, legal drugs may also rock.) Other videos that follow suit are Computerworld with its daunting minimalistic (protest?) lyrics, Neon Lights, Trans Europe Express and Numbers. Neon Lights somehow takes you back to the eighties and makes you wonder how amazed must have been Ralf and Florian back in the days with technological advancement. Trans Europe Express sets off as any other regular video until it gets on tracks. The synchronicity of the railway with the song cannot be more amazing.

By this era, some songs would be subject to changes, such as Die Roboter, Autobahn and Radioactivity. Sincerely, I don't know whether there is more than one version of the DVD. In any case, I prefer the old Radioactivity over the 90's one, it has an aesthetical magic that the dance number placed in the middle section during the 90's manages to ruin. Nevertheless, the awareness rising intro makes quite a statement on Kraftwerk's idiosyncracry. Autobahn was more than halved during the 90's for somehow obvious reasons. However, it still manages to keep its charm and the video sequence mimicking Autobahn's cover is fun. Die Roboter, instead was extended and made a dancier number, whilst retaining its charm. The way Kraftwerk opts to execute it is greatly rewarding, so I will not spoil it. It is up to you to enjoy it.

A special mention must be made to The Man Machine and Numbers, which are always great songs. It is also worth mentioning how funny is that most Kraftwerk fans stay put during the concert but for two fellas in the front row who jump and dance as if they were at Creamfields. Everyone is entitled to have fun in their manner: Kraftwerk has fun by pretending to be detached. Truth is that Kraftwerk is more reality-grounded than most bands.

 Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.16 | 165 ratings

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Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Emiliano

5 stars The main question to this review is why I regard this album essential. I give it that it is not a prog-rock essential album, instead it is something quite more important: a XX century essential music album. I don't even like all songs in there, yet there is something that glues the whole album together as an other-wordly experience: Kraftwerk's artistic concept being fully and consistently expressed for the first time. This album paved the way for electronic music as a popular genre. Plus, it is one of the few albums I enjoyed first listening on tape (insert Tubular Bells joke here, I'll just say I went straight into The Nostalgia Factory in this sentence.) If you are aware of Kraftwerk's artisitic concept, then you now that Radioactivity is the big deal. The extent to which one can like the album, well... it's a matter of tastes.

Radioactivity showcases the following traits that make up most of Kraftwerk's identity: 1) Songs reflecting the influence technology in the XX century. Just think of the effects of radio (as media) and radioactivity in society. No one today can say their lives haven't been somehow changed by these two scientific breakthroughs. Kraftwerk even changed the lyrics of Radioactivity from the 90's and onwards to raise awareness on the downturns of this discovery. 2) Minimalistic approach. Yes, there are two eras in Kraftwerk's sound: free improvisation in the krautrock era, and minimalism as of this album which is the onset of Kraftwerk's electronic era. 3) Multilingualism. There are many songs of this album recorded or played live in several languages, including German, English and Japanese. 4) Concept albums. This is the first honest-to-true concept album of Kraftwerk. 5) Embracing electronic effects. Well, this existed throughout Kraftwerk's history, but this album is pivotal in this regard. From then onwards, Kraftwerk would try to use as much technology as possible to play their songs. Live shows nowadays include a VJ playing 3D projections, by the way. 6) Detachment. Part of Kraftwerk's appeal lies in reflecting societies' trend to alienation through technology. This album attempts to recreate this through the construction of musical atmosphere, though I believe this trait to be first fully realized in The Man Machine.

Song-wise, Geiger Counter, Radioactivity, Airwaves and Ohm Sweet Ohm are the best in the album. Others, I don't like that much, but as I said, album-wise it is an engaging experience. Plus, Ohm Sweet Ohm makes an excellent climax as the album's ending. Other songs in the realm of prog I can think of that can have the same effect in their respective albums are: Eclipse, Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts VI-IX, Dark Matter, Feel So Low, and In the Court of the Crimson King.

 The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 325 ratings

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The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the most influential albums of all times. In the late 70´s I remember listening to The Model on the radio and could not believe my ears: it was so simple and yet so engaging! Only electronic instrumentation, no guitars, bass or other common instrument. The vocals were even simpler and unadorned, but they were perfect! It was the a pop song and a dance song in three minutes of pure delight! this set the tone for the whole CD: electronic music for the masses! Nothing too complicated, or too crazy or vague as were so many records of the style up till then: just minimalist arrangements, few vocals and great melodies!

Looking back is easy to see why the post punk generation understood so well Kraftwerk´s anti-rock stance: their looks were not fashionable for the time, but still they had it perfect crafted for their sound. Their music denied any arena rock cliche of the 70´s: no guitar hero, not even a "real" lead singer, no ten minute drum solo, no nothing! All those new wave groups that emerged in the 80´s owe a great deal of their sound and concept to these Germans: OMD, Human League, Visage, Gary Numan, Simple Minds, Thomas Dolby, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and hundreds of others were deeply influenced by Kraftwerk in one way or another, in great or lesser degree, but they all were, and Man Machine was way ahead of its time.

I know a lot of people here that will dismiss Kraftwerk in general - and The Man-Machine in particular - as too simple and too predictable for their tastes.Still it was revolutionary music that would change the scene in the next decades in a way that no other single band could do (except the Beatles). Punk music may have aimed to shake the rock establishment foundations, but Kraftwerk did it without spitting in the audience nor sticking safety pins on their faces. It was a subtle revolution. but a very lasting one!

A terrific record that has stood the test of time with honors.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to rivertree for the last updates

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