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

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS [AKA: TRANS-EUROPA EXPRESS]

Kraftwerk

 

Progressive Electronic

3.95 | 322 ratings

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TCat
5 stars By the release of 'Trans-Europe Express' in 1977, the most popular line up of Kraftwerk had been established and they were making their mark on the pop and electronic scene. The two founders were there, Ralf Hutler and Florian Schneider, and they were part of the well-established band along with Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos. Even though this line up had worked on previous albums which centered more around Krautrock, TEE moved towards a more melodic sound, and that sound fit in quite well with the upcoming new wave movement. The very famous first single, the title track, would propel them to world- wide fame.

The music would also end up influencing many artists to come, including modern day electronic artists. Their simple, synth- heavy music would pave the way for rave, ambience, and all types of electronica music. Even though the music was simple, the band was meticulous in making sure all of the sounds and textures were perfect and it usually took a lot of time and effort to finalize the tracks. Also, on this track, processed vocals were used quite extensively through the entire album.

'Europe Endless' was their theme to Europe and introduced their melodic and danceable sound to the masses in a 9+ minute track. With an unrelenting rhythm and a mysterious European sound, people were attracted to the simplicity, yet complexity of the music, the new sound that did not utilize any guitars, only synths, and the repeating themes and vocals only helped to propel the music to popularity. Towards the end of this track, you hear the main theme from TEE make its first appearance on the album.

The next two tracks, 'The Hall of Mirrors' and 'Showroom Dummies' continued with the simple, catchy and repetitious textures and lyrics, but moved more towards a more minimalist feel, and thus ambient dance music was born. Of course, there is the centerpiece of the album 'Trans-Europe Express' which emulates the sound of a train and the incredibly, and quite successfully, transmits to the listener the feel of traveling by train in Europe. I remember riding a train in Italy for close to 24 hours, and the soothing sounds of the train on the tracks and watching the full moon illuminate the country side as the train moved along. Shortly after, I heard this track for the first time, and was amazed at how perfect the feeling was captured in this track. Now every time I hear this track, even many years later, those memories come back so vividly, just like it happened yesterday, and I feel I am back on that train.

'Metal on Metal/Abzug' continues the theme of TEE by expanding it more and making it more ambient feeling as the train continues on. On some editions, the title 'Abzug' is left off even though the music is still there, and the total minutes are added to the Metal on Metal track. After this, 'Franz Schubert' follows with a more peaceful and soft melody accompanied by a simple repeating riff. 'Endless Endless' is tacked on to the end of this track and acts as a short coda or epilogue to the album.

This album is so simple, yet so beautifully and meticulously played, almost to the point of perfection. Nevermind the slightly tacky looking album cover that makes the band members look like a 50s or 60s doo-wop group like 'The Four Lads' or what have you, the music is quite daring for its time, and the fact that the world welcomed this sound and was inspired by it only strengthens the fact that this album and this band was immensely influential and still continue to be. This is definitely an essential album, especially when it comes to progressive electronica and the use of it in popular music through out the world.

TCat | 5/5 |

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