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Kraftwerk - Minimum Maximum CD (album) cover

MINIMUM MAXIMUM

Kraftwerk

 

Progressive Electronic

3.36 | 54 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Sadly Kraftwerk cannot be with us tonight, but they have sent their laptops

Although we have a 1998 live album by Kraftwerk listed on this site which is available legally, "Minimum Maximum" is acclaimed as the first official live album by the band. Released in both CD (audio only) and DVD (audio and video) formats, the set captures the band performing at various gigs in Europe, Japan, and the USA in 2004. In an interesting twist, the album was released in two versions, one in English and one in German. This is relevant as it means that the recordings of several tracks are from different gigs, depending which version you have. For example, the English language version of "The model" was recorded in London, the German one ("Das Modell") in Berlin.

In what might be considered the most ridiculous of "live" situations, the band do not play orthodox instruments, but stand in front of the audience with laptops! They maintain that the actual sounds are "created in real time", but one surely has to question where a live performance ends and simulation takes over.

Given that Kraftwerk's trademark sound is based on cold, precise, mechanical electronics, it would be fair to ponder on whether a live performance offers anything worthwhile. The band's objective throughout appears to be the exact replication of the same music night after night. There may be variations from the original studio versions of the tracks, but such variations are carefully planned and implemented, leaving no margin for improvisation or deviation from the program.

OK, so that's the down side. On the plus side, the digital nature of the instruments means that the recordings can be more or less perfect. Also, one look at the two hour set list reveals what amounts to a fine "Best of/Greatest hits" package. All the band's best known works are here, including a 9 minute version of "Autobahn", 8 minutes of "Radio activity" and "Trans-europe express". The tracks are given a fresh lick of paint, with more pronounced electronic rhythms and contemporary synth sounds. Whether you prefer these new interpretations or would rather stick with the originals is all down to choice of course.

A couple of the titles may be less familiar to fans of the band, but "Planet of visions" is an updated version of "Expo 2000", "Tour de France" was a 1983 non-album single and "Aéro Dynamik" appeared on the more recent "Tour de France soundtracks" album.

In all, a highly enjoyable couple of hours of the best of Kraftwerk. The live album tag is something of a misnomer, but then genuine live albums can often be truly awful anyway!

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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