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5 stars Minimum Maximum is very nice with beauty's on it (not every title but all of them made with love). Ralf and Florian are still in charge, and in case of good taste you can send them for a message. I hope these man will stay in good condition for even more outstanding and beautifull music/art/work.
Report this review (#35296)
Posted Sunday, June 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent album with a lot of new versions from older tracks, and even improved versions of the tracks from the Tour the France Soundtracks album, including Vitamin, Electro Kardiagramm and Aerodynamik. Also very nice to hear modern versions of The Man- Machine, The Model and Neon Lights (never my favorite track, but the version of Neon Lights on this album is fantastic). Only one negative fact: Radioactivity sounds more like a mixture of the 1975 and 1991 versions then the (brilliant) 1991 version.
Report this review (#36901)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's really about time these guys put out an official live album. Now that digital technology has dominated the electronic mainstream, Ralph and Florian don't have to worry about the all the bulky Moogs, ARPs, ocillators, microwave ovens and whatever else plus the kitchen sink they were using in the 70s and 80s. Now we have our Kraut legends, teamed up with Henning Schmitz and Fritz Hilpert streamlined to just podiums and laptops. Giving more breathing room to visualize their shows with incredible light and projection.

Like Rush did with their 35th anniversary tour, they pretty much covered most of their career on these shows so there's too much to go over here. And instead of just duplicating the songs from their earlier works, they do breath new life into these techno classics. According to other reviews, these guys don't do the same show twice, so it's not like they're just sitting there pushing buttons. So yes, there is some musicianship at work here regardless of what some critics have said in the past.

My only gripe with this album is that it doesn't sound to "live". The music sounds like it's coming right off the mixing board and probably is with one microphone thrown in to capture the audience sound. There is no acoustic dynamics except artificially from the computer echo effects. That said, the new DVD of this coming out in Sept. should be a sonic assault on the ears if done right with a Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 mixes. I just hope they don't make the same mistake Ozric Tentacles did with their DVD and keep the soundscape to just the front speakers.

In conclusion, as novelty as I always thought of these guys, I have to admit they were revolutionary in this genre. Hip-Hop and Techno owes a lot to these guys. I'm glad that this tour demonstated that they weren't passe'. I'm sure Ralph and Florian won't stop here and just keep going.

Report this review (#41641)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars In the early 70s Kraftwerk made some dense electronic records full of lengthy ambient cuts like Stratovarious and Autobahn, and that has led some observers to link them with the path travelled by Tangerine Dream. I have to say though, that while I can grasp Tangerine Dream's sparse, albeit multi-layered textures, Kraftwerk's music has always been monotous, robotic and synthetic to me. In fact, I find this lot to be the very antithesis of progressive music.

Culled from a series of concerts recorded between March and June, 2004, this double album sees the quartet (really just two sods called Ralf and Florian and hired help) trot out their "greatest hits". This stuff is singularly unappealing, and even the most familiar moments like Tour De France, The Model, a truncated version of Autobahn and the Vangelis-like Radioactivity remind me that Kraftwerk were at best, purveyors of mediocre synth-pop (forget my favourites Ultravox and OMD, I even prefer Falco and Pet Shop Boys to this!). As for the rest of the 22 agonizing cuts, most like The Man-Machine and Music Non-Stop are less memorable, one-dimensional, overlong synth tunes, while the odd track like Planets Of Visions is actually nightclub music that probably needs somebody like Sophie Ellis-Bextor singing on it!

Even the flawless sound quality is a drawback, because one expects some degree of spontaniety in a live performance, not this computerized stuff. I cannot imagine that this sort of rubbish would appeal to any one seeking out progressive music of any description. The only good thing about the hour-plus that I wasted listening to Minimum-Maximum is that it made me appreciate "real" musicians that much more. If I come off as sounding disrespectful here, it's probably because I mean to be. ... 6% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#51030)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars I really appreciate electronic music: I love technical experimenting. But this style of electronic music is simply the type of music that gets on my nerves. Redundant, bouncy dance music, with absolutely no exploratory aspects, and very, very little spacey, psychedelic or ambient-like approaches. All the simple dance beats are complemented by irritating keyboard voices, playing...nothing much, really. Sometimes a vocal loop (with the deep accents) will make a song a bit spacier, but that it's very rare, and not at all creative at this point. For the most part, this is repetitive, unessential, mechanical, synthetic and unsophisticated droning. This will only appeal to Kraftwerk die-hard fans, and big fans of electronic, synthetic dance music. Everyone else should stay away, and buy some Klaus Schulze instead.
Report this review (#132181)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The ultimate Kraftwerk experience!

I think I'm not going to be far off the mark it I state that Krafwerk is one of the most influential bands on the PA pages next to Pink Floyd and Can. While PF has mainly influenced later generations of prog-bands, Can and Kraftwerk's influences have stretched into the entirely opposite directions. Anti-prog, if that is what you wish to call it.

Already at the end of the 70's the cold minimal machine sound of Kraftwerk was picked up by tens of synth-pop, new wave and later industrial bands (Simple Minds, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Front 242,...). Also in the ensuing decades, many techno acts (Orbital, Trentemöller) kept returning to the framework set by Kraftwerk in the 70's. For that reason, the Krafwerk reunion and this live album is totally relevant. Their music has never dated and they prove it on this impressive setlist that compiles most of their classics with a few tracks from the come-back album Tour De France.

The old tracks are mostly unchanged but benefit greatly from the updated sound, especially the drum sequencing is fresh and sparkling which makes the renditions on this live album preferrable over the studio originals. On the newer tracks from Tour De France, Kraftwerk have modernized their sound (not the approach though) and pull off a set of contemporary techno pieces that sounds as if they've never done anything else. Great job.

One doesn't get to review many techno albums on prog archives so I'll take the opportunity to recommend this as the best possible entry point for anyone interested in this fascinating genre.

Report this review (#250805)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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!

Report this review (#293888)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars I want to start this review from the outset with this statement.... "Stop reading and just buy the DVD!"

You're still here? OK, if you must, let me just make the point this music is better experienced seen AND heard. The DVD of Kraftwerk's "Minimum: Maximum" is a visual feast that is indispensable i my collection. My children love the humorous retro visuals and weird chants, my wife likes to quiz me on what the band are REALLY doing behind thier laptops, (the band stand at their consoles like showroom dummies twiddling knobs and moving mouses to create the visual and aural experience and I joked they could be playing Space Invaders or surfing the internet for all we know as we are never allowed to see the inner sanctum of their monitors), and I simply like the experience of being at one of their live performances, an experience I may never have the pleasure to indulge in as they rarely come to Australia.

This CD is identical to the tracks on the DVD more or less. So it is rather an obsolete purchase if you have the DVD. Nevertheless it is great to listen to sometimes, working as a type of best of Kraftwerk, featuring their quintessential classics. The band pour out ambience and percussive electro pulses on every track. The entire set list encompasses the Kraftwerk history from early years to recent treasures, and some versions are even better than the originals. Here is where the CD makes a great replacement for "Radio- Activity" and "Tour de France Soundtracks", both of which are very mediocre releases. In fact the best material on them is featured in the concert.

Kraftwerk sing about very important subjects such as Man as Machine who drives machines such as cars, bikes, and trains. We have a song about a Pocket Calculator, a handy little device well deserved of acclaim as it has saved mathematics students the headache inducing task of calculating fractions to percentages. We have a song about Numbers, a great way to learn how to count to 4 or 8 in various languages. Planet of Visions is a highlight about the future, The Model is excellent as always parodying the runway catwalk, and the futurist techno sounds of Trans Europe Express are incredible, better than the original! It features an extended section with atmospheric click clacking effects resonating an atmosphere of the TEE thrashing down the railways.

The tracks from the more recent 2003 release of "Tour De France" are given a face lift, a revelation as an album that I once detested was reinvigorated by hearing these tracks live. Vitamin is better than I first thought and Radioactivity is the Mix version with Chernobyl warnings. Autobahn is a scaled down 9 minute version with cars swooping past. Neon Lights is well sung and very close to the original.

Four tracks from "Computer World" capture the vibrant exciting energy of that album, Pocket Calculator is actually the Japanese inspired Dentaku Mix version and as a result quite a compelling track. The techno loops and percussive vibrations are wonderful and ineffaceable once they enter the conscious.

The new 'unimproved', in my opinion, version of The Robots is quirky and hypnotic but does not shine a candle flicker on the original. Elektro Kardiogram and Aero Dynamik from "Tour de France" work wonderfully on the live stage. There is thankfully only one track from the underwhelming "Electric Cafe" but it is a great way of closing down the show. Musique Non Stop continues for a while and each band member leaves in turn and the music becomes more minimalist until finally the last band member vacates to a roar of applause and it is all over.

If you get the DVD you will see a great live experience that makes you feel as though you have actually seen Kraftwerk live. The sound quality is A1 with DTS surround capabilities. The visuals are crystal clear. The special features include an MTV appearance in the electro outfits playing 'Aero Dynamik'. The light show is incredible on this clip and well worth a look. Other features are the interactive menu reminding me of their website visuals and the packaging of white cardboard fold out DVD cover is appealing. All in all this is the best record of the band as a live unit and as such is an absolutely essential purchase for Kraftwerk freaks worldwide.

However, the audio version is not so good. I can still rate it 4 stars as it is the best of Kraftwerk in one package, but the DVD is a masterpiece.

Report this review (#404794)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink

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