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Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express] CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.94 | 318 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 8/10

"Trans Europe Express" is one of the very best Kraftwerk albums, that is in between the shy Proto Synth Pop sounds of the previous works and the uber confidence of "The Man Machine".

The way to 'Trans Europe Express' was a pretty long one for Kraftwerk; starting from the more na've sounding first albums, to then reaching a more distinct and unique style ('Authobahn') that included solely Electronic sounds, making them an Electronic band all the way. But only with 'The Man Machine' the band obtain a sound that is impressively modern. 'Trans Europe Express', even though just a step away from full development, is probably the album that best represents the band, halfway between the shy experiments with Pop music on both 'Autobahn' and 'Radio-Activity' and the uber-confident, extremely lively and robotic 'The Man Machine'.

'Trans Europe Express' seem to have got much more aggression and darkness since 'Radio-Activity': the metallic, synth sounds that we were used to hearing are still there, the music still repetitive, the vocals still minimalistic. However, the attitude they have towards the music seems to be almost going-somewhat- with the musical current of 1977, the year where Punk Rock reached it's peak. The sounds are much more twisted and dark, even though they alternate with lighter melodies that remind much more of earlier Kraftwerk. It is evident though how the band has managed to change distinctively their approach towards this kind of music, bringing the Electronic, proto-Synth Pop sounds into a more Progressive Electronic direction, inserting in a few spots some sparks of Ambient music. Krautrock roots, obviously, are never let go.

'Trans Europe Express' is a strange beast among Kraftwerk's discography, yet, an album that perfectly represents the common concepts the band has in their music and lyrics: robots, technology, alienation among society, highways and roads. The future world where there is no nature, just metal surrounding us. Fiercely dystopian with a surreal joyfulness, Kraftwerk's music has managed to screw and unscrew different emotions that seem to be alien, but in reality are more human than a heart beat.

Masterfully constructed, 'Trans Europe Express' offers on the first side three of the greatest Kraftwerk songs: 'Europe Endless' contrasts the moods of the following tracks with a cheerful, trance-like synth loop that is the core of the entire song, with a beautiful, memorable melody and the usual soft and tender vocals. It would have easily been a cut from an album like 'Autobahn'. But then comes 'The Hall Of Mirrors', that has an almost creepy mood, minimalistic synth, and more confident vocals. 'Showroom Dummies' on the other hand gives more drama, with even more insistent vocals and an obsessive melody, much more twisted than the first track. It is though on the second side of the LP that Kraftwerk explore completely strange and new territories: the title track is the creepiest Kraftwerk song yet, with robotic vocals, almost horror-like melodies, a filtered beat that sort of resembles a moving train. After the musical continuation of the title track, 'Metal On Metal', the instrumental 'Franz Schubert' once again gives a cheerful and more trance-like atmosphere that brings the album to an outstanding conclusion.

'Trans Europe Express' is still proud to have some familiarities with Synth Pop, but with a creepy smile it dares the listener to hop on a ride they will never forget. Cerebral in it's repetition, it's easy to say that this album has reached classic status, a landmark achievement for Electronic music, the kind that goes beyond borders.

EatThatPhonebook | 4/5 |


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