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Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität] CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.18 | 202 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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