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KRAFTWERK

Progressive Electronic • Germany


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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 band's members settle down, Wolgang Flur, Karl Bart...
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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)

3.16 | 71 ratings
Tone Float (Organisation)
1969
3.34 | 124 ratings
Kraftwerk
1970
3.18 | 92 ratings
Kraftwerk 2
1971
3.47 | 87 ratings
Ralf & Florian
1973
3.50 | 263 ratings
Autobahn
1974
3.15 | 160 ratings
Radio-Activity (Radio-Aktivität)
1975
3.87 | 268 ratings
Trans-Europe Express (Trans-Europa Express)
1977
3.94 | 309 ratings
The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine)
1978
3.79 | 195 ratings
Computer World (Computerwelt)
1981
2.33 | 87 ratings
Electric Café (AKA "Techno Pop")
1986
2.82 | 61 ratings
The Mix
1991
3.32 | 84 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 | 45 ratings
Minimum Maximum
2005

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

3.91 | 28 ratings
Minimum Maximum
2005
4.10 | 10 ratings
Kraftwerk And The Electronic Revolution
2008

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

3.17 | 9 ratings
Kraftwerk (1 and 2)
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk 2
1975
1.39 | 10 ratings
Exceller 8
1975
3.00 | 6 ratings
Doppelalbum
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kometenmelodie 2 (Compilation)
1976
3.67 | 3 ratings
Pop Lions - Autobahn
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk 1
1977
3.33 | 3 ratings
Highrail
1979
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Capitol Years: Three Originals
1994
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Model
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Kraftwerk
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk (Box Set)
1997
4.85 | 11 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
 Trans-Europe Express (Trans-Europa Express) by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.87 | 268 ratings

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Trans-Europe Express (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.

 Kraftwerk by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.34 | 124 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
3.91 | 28 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 (Radio-Aktivität) by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.15 | 160 ratings

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Radio-Activity (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 (Die Mensch-Maschine) by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.94 | 309 ratings

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The Man-Machine (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.

 Autobahn by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.50 | 263 ratings

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Autobahn
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of the most influential albums of musical history of all times, Kraftwerk´s third album is definitely a landmark on contemporary music. I can understand the low ratings it got here on PA since their influence was mainly felt on dance and techno-pop genres, which a lot of progheads seems to have a deep love to hate them. However, their music open new roads into many different ways and it was, for the time, revolutionary and groundbreaking. By shedding away most of the avant guard elements (but not all of them), taking catchy melodies into electronic and giving them a steady beat, they did something unheard of. So much so that when an american manager asked them to release a 3 minute version of the title song in a single, the result was a top twenty hit in America! It was the first time a German band achieved that feat. And to top it all, it was sung in their native language!

But the album showed much more than that. The long version is quite bold and interesting: written to simulate a ride by car from Berlim to Bonn in their autobhan. USA, with its freeways might explain the unlike relation to the song, plus the vocal line is an obvious lift from the Beach Boys Barbara Ann. It was minimalist music taken to new heights. The remaining tracks are also good, although not as remarkable, with the exception of Kometenmelodie 2 (Comet Melody 2 ), with its beautiful melody line and driving beat. Mitternacht (Midnight ) is their link with the former avant guard/electronic past. Morgenspaziergang (Morning Walk ), on the other hand, is a bucolic piece, featuring acoustic piano and recorder (played by Florian Schneider), the last time they ever used acoustic instruments on record. For this LP the original masterminds Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter recruited two new members: Klaus Roeder (violin, guitar) and Wolfgang Flür (electronic percussion). Roeder is hardly noticed and soon would be gone, but Flür would become part of the so called "classic" line up, with future member Karl Bartos. Much credit must be due to legendary engineer and producer Konrad "Conny" Plank, who helped build the new sound and never got it.

It´s interesting to listen to this record today: It sounds a little "bland" and primitive. Maybe because it was so imitated. When David Bowie heard it and decided to adopted the style for himself the musical change was a long and powerful one. That would be hardly possible without Kraftwerk´s pioneering work. And the band would prove themselves to be no hoax in their future releases.

Rating: musically nowadays and for personal tastes maybe the record itself deserved only 4 stars, but for its historical importance there is no way to deny its classic status, and it is a masterpiece of progressive music. Love it or hate it. 5 stars.

 Tone Float (Organisation) by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.16 | 71 ratings

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Tone Float (Organisation)
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I got this one out of pure curiosity. I am currently reading Kraftwerk´s excellent biography Publikation and I was interested in learning a bit more about their early days. As I was expecting, this one has very little to do with the Kraftwerk sounds we all know. this is a far more experimental/krautrock/psychedelic act of the day. There are no songs as such, they are more like jams and seem to be more or less created at the moment. Although both main members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider are here, you´ll hardly notice. Lots of percussion by courtesy of indian born Basil Hammoud. In fact, the whole side 1 of the original vinyl is an exercise of percussive instruments laced with some other instruments here and there. I found it rather hard to listen to its 20:46 minutes of running time, although I must admit that some flute playing by Schneider is indeed interesting (he was much more an accomplished flutist than I thought).

By the end of side two things improve a little, which is not much, but at least the tunes seem to have a little more direction and melodies. Still, like so many other free styled jams of the period, it is not my cup of tea. Most of the stuff just seems pointless exercises that, if recorded, should be used only to pick up the best bits for use on more structured and and dynamic stuff known as songs. If it was not that flimsy link with Kraftwerk I wonder if this record would be of any interest at all (expect for those few who really enjoy this kind of music - and there were far better groups doing the same genre).

Recommended only for Kraftwerk completionists and die hard fans of long, improvised, spacey jams. 2 stars.

 Autobahn by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.50 | 263 ratings

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Autobahn
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by RaelWV

4 stars It was inevitable when I started diving into electronic music a few years ago that I'd eventually wind my way to Kraftwerk. To lots of people the German pioneers are electronic music, at least of the accessible pop-flavored variety. No album is more responsible for that than Autobahn. It was, rather inexplicably, a hit in the United States and in Europe.

Autobahn is technically not the first Kraftwerk album, but it might as well be. In fact, main men Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter have essentially disowned the three albums that came before (they've never been released on CD, IIRC). From what little I've heard of those albums, there is some recognizable Kraftwerking going on, but they had not yet fully embraced electronics they way they did on Autobahn (and later, of course).

There's also a conceptual rigor that starts to be flexed on Autobahn that would really bear fruit on the next several albums, at least when it comes to what was (back in the olde days) side one. The title track, an epic of proggy proportions, sprawls out across that side, conveying musically a car trip across Germany. Lyrics are sparse and in German, although the refrain of "fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn" has the effect of sounding like a Beach Boys reference (not intentional, from what I understand). The music is undeniably electronic, although Schneider's flute still makes a couple of appearances.

The concept doesn't hold over to side two, which appears to be kind of neglected by listeners as a result. Regardless, it contains the track that convinced me to keep digging in the Kraftwerk katalog. "Kometenmelodie" is another epic, split into two parts. The first part sounds like something I might come up with on a particularly inspired evening, which is maybe why I like it so much.

Autobahn isn't my favorite Kraftwerk album from stem to stern. But it was the onramp, so to speak, for my discovery of the band. Apparently, it was the same for lots of other folks, too.

On a related note, if you're interested in Kraftwerk and the German experimental music scene from which they sprang, I highly recommend the documentary Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution. It's long (3 hours!), but it covers a lot of ground and provides some interesting insight into the whole milieu that was German music in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The film's biggest flaw is that neither Schneider nor Hutter participated, although Karl Bartos (who joined just after Autobahn) provides some interesting insight.

 Autobahn by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.50 | 263 ratings

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Autobahn
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer

1 stars If what you want is a mishmash of the synth and sonic innovations accomplished a couple of years earlier by Pink Floyd, ELP, Amon Duul II, Roger Powell and Hawkwind delivered with the dead-behind-the-eyes glaze of an accountant or economist, this is the album for you. Most of the good parts feel like quotations of On The Run or Echoes or bits of Gong's Angel's Egg.

The titular pop-synth epic has the ambience of a terrible crash between two lorries full of skittles. The first part of Cometenmelodie just has nothing happening and the lack of a bottom end really leaves you feeling ungrounded for the glaring synths. I'm not going to spend fifty words review savaging the lackluster electronic drums or the floppy novelty vocals that no doubt gave it its hit status. I hate them. That is my whole opinion on the matter. In terms of the composition I can't hear much going on. Call it 'minimalist' if you like but I just can't hear anything I don't feel like I've heard before. The sonic effects on Mitternacht you can hear done with far more panache in Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast or Echoes and the brief padded chords are as bog standard as you get, leading to a conclusion where nothing happens, which seems to be the motif of this review.

The much lauded sonic innovations here were done earlier and better by artists working in a panoply of genres and there were tempered by ambition and ideas. The only redeeming piece is the closing Morganspazierung which reminds me of the psychedelic music that used to get attached to British children's TV in better days. Even that is kind of spared for its lack of ideas on account of a very short running length.

Rating: 2/15. Go to the source where the water's fresher. Favourite Track: Morganspazierung

 Computer World (Computerwelt) by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.79 | 195 ratings

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Computer World (Computerwelt)
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

4 stars Several weeks ago, I had an epiphany of sorts with respect to this album, and that is the inspiration for this review.

First, a little background: I remember becoming aware of this album way back in 1981 - the pop radio station where I lived played the track "Numbers" several times, probably for its novelty value: a song that counted a bunch of numbers in a robotic voice set to a sequenced synthetic melody eerily similar to that heard the prior year on Paul McCartney's synth fiasco "Temporary Secretary" (which I loved). But the seed was planted. The next time I went to a record store, I saw Kraftwerk's album "Computer World" and almost decided to buy it. Eventually, I did buy it.

Back then, I was in junior high school. Computers were new, a little bit alien, and kind of fascinating. Kraftwerk latched on to our collective curiosity about a world with computers. Today their involvement in our life seems obvious, even inevitable, but back then it was a big question mark. Isaac Asimov and Alan Parsons were wondering if the man/machine relationship would really yield the utopian life the optimists anticipated. I myself composed an admittedly naive but nonetheless sincere collage piece where I questioned the wisdom of letting computers take too much time out of our lives. Kraftwerk, meanwhile, seemed to tell us, hey, don't worry, be happy.

That is the vibe I get from Computer World. It presents man and machine working together in harmony, with the most relaxed and playful melodies you'd ever expect coming out of what sounds like a vintage 1980s Nintendo system.

My epiphany came when I was driving with my family in the car. We'd had a fun day, and we went out after dinner to get some frozen yogurt. I was driving, my wife was on her iPhone, my daughter was in the back seat on her Kindle, and Kraftwerk was on the stereo. As the music played, I heard the blips and beeps from my family's electronic devices, and rather than feel the Techno-Fear that so many of my contemporaries feel upon realizing that their families are spending way too much time staring at computer screens, I felt an odd sort of Harmony going on. The music on the stereo and the incidental sounds coming out of their devices were almost "jamming" with each other! Our lives and the machinery that kept us entertained blipped and beeped in the same kind of rhythmic harmony as the music I was hearing. It all seemed to fit together, and it reinforced an idea I've held for a while: Technology is not our enemy. Technology is as beautiful as a painting - or a piece of music. It's all part of the same wellspring of human ideas.

Ok, Ok, not very politically correct but I'm just relating what I felt. This album really just reinforced some ideas I had first encountered in my favorite tome Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig, that the relationship between man and machine need not be any different from the relationship between man and "nature", because "nature" also encompasses "machines". It's all just different manifestations of the same "stuff". And I will always remember this, and will always associate that discovery with this album.

In a historical context, Kraftwerk, who had pretty much invented synth-pop during the preceding 5 years, presented this album almost as a "hey, remember us?" kind of gesture. The music they had pioneered had influenced bands that were all over the radio by then. Although this album really broke no new ground like Trans Europe Express had, it gave the Kraftwerk guys a well-deserved opportunity to do a "victory lap". It's ironic in this light that I first perceived them as a novelty band in 1981 - they were probably the pioneers of half the styles I was hearing on the radio from my favorite pop stars at the time.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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