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Kraftwerk - Tour De France Soundtracks CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.36 | 123 ratings

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4 stars "Tour de France" is the last studio album released to date by the German electronica band Kraftwerk. The album was released in 2003 accompanied with a lot of anticipation as it was the first time a full studio album had been released for 17 years.

The sound on this album seems a lot more mature and up to date. The sound still has that danceable, yet minimal, electronic sound they are famous for with repetitive, processed vocals. Of course, the album is inspired by the famous annual bike race in France, and it reflects the band members growing interest in bicycling. The band members consist of 2 of the original members that have always been with the band, namely Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider. The other 2 members joined in 1989 and 1992, Fritz Hilpert and Henning Schmitz, who are still active in the group.

The album starts off and immediately you can detect the maturity in the music. The short "Prologue" give a nice, lush and short introduction and flows into the 3 part suite "Tour de France 2003 Etape 1 ? 3". It is reminiscent of the original "Tour de France" released years earlier. The tracks pretty much have a continuous flow through the 3 parts and a continuous steady beat. There are computerized sounding vocals that continue through the 3 parts, but it is mostly instrumental as that is the focus of this album. The music definitely has that electronic and computerized sound, but it is still quite interesting as it continues. "Chrono" actually continues with the same vibe and seems to be connected to the suite as a whole. It is a bit more experimental here as the themes are more varied, but it does return to the main theme by the end.

"Vitamin" is the first track to be not connected from what came previously. This one has a more solid beat and is not as airy, but actually approaches an industrial sound with some metallic effects. Again there are sparse robotic lyrics that are not a spotlight as much as they are a support to the music.

"Aero Dynamik" follows this track and was released as a single in 2004. This is fast paced track with nice upbeat feel. It has a repetitive pattern on top of which are spoken and processed vocals and other synth layers in an almost rave style track. "Titanium" continues on with the main idea from the previous track, but changing patterns up a bit, which is almost the only indication that it is a new track, but it later returns to the same theme.

"Elektro Kardiogramm" starts off with the sound of a heart beat and builds melodic, vocalized, and instrumental foundations off of that with the lyrics being "Minimum/Maximum beats per minute". The result is a solid mid-tempo beat sounded by the electronic melody lines.

"La Forme" starts off with an atmospheric and airy feel. One of the most realized melody lines on the album then starts and later spoken processed vocals start and takes turns with the melody line. This is one of the better tracks on the album as it is more melodic and all of the elements work together to build the song. It doesn't rely so much on a repetitive pattern as the previous track on the album, but creates variations and other thematic elements to make it a little bit more complex. "Regeneration" sits as a mid-track that takes off of the previous track as a cool down section to bridge it to a final version of "Tour de France". This time, it starts off with a repetitive breath effect and is joined by several percussive effects that establish an up-beat rhythm. Soon, a lusher, yet danceable, version of the main theme to the title track returns.

Overall, this album does what was expected from the band, and then adds to the sound by making it more mature, but also making the sound more up to date. The band really didn't need to prove anything except that they still could do what they've always been able to do, and that is make interesting Krautrock inspired electronic music. They didn't try to sound like anyone else, they just continued developing the sound that influenced so many other artists that grew up on their sound. The album is still fun to listen to, even though it lacks the funky elements of yesterday, it proves that this band easily still fits in the style it helped invent.

TCat | 4/5 |


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