James Leatherbarrow | Kent, OH United States | 08/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! After well over a decade of silence I had presumed that Kraftwerk had finally hung up their flashing ties and called it quits. But here's a completely new album! Suddenly the Hutter/Schneider partnership has become one of the longest in pop history, having lasted over 34 years!
So what about the album? Well the opening 5 tracks form a very extended suite of an ORIGINAL track called Tour De France (not to be confused with their breakdance hit of 1983, an updated version of which appears at the album's close almost as an afterthought). This new track is a fine start to the album, though in many ways it sounds the least 'traditional Kraftwerk' of all the tracks. It's very techno, if you know what I mean... Things start to sound more familiar with "Vitamin", a dryly humourous list of a cyclist's dietry supplements!
The next two titles form a single track ("Aero Dynamik" and "Titanium"). This piece is superb! It really put me in mind of the equally dark and punchy "Home Computer" from 1981's Computer World album. Next comes the fiendishly catchy "Elektro Kardiogramm". This piece is cleverly built around the sounds of a beating heart and heavy breathing (no you potty-minds, it's supposed to be CYCLISTS!!!!) After a few listens I found myself subconsciously chanting "Elektro-Elektro-Kardiogramm" under my breath while doing household chores. I warn you, it could happen to you!
La Forme and Regeneration are solo pieces by Hutter, and are really quite lovely; tuneful in that slightly nostalgic way that much of 1977's Trans Europe Express was.
The final song is 1983's Tour De France, lovingly given the up-date treatment like the tracks on "The Mix". Although completely re-recorded, it sounds like the group really took pains to adhere to the sounds and style of the original. It's great to finally get this track on CD!
I would recommend this CD to any fan of Kraftwerk. Some may think they've changed too much, some may think they haven't changed enough! Personally when I listen to this CD I feel as if an old friend who I haven't seen in 15 years has just got back in touch. Welcome back Krafty!"
Better than expected!
oldfart_sd2 | Glasgow, Scotland | 09/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's often been said that the Kraftwerk should have just stopped probably after "Computer World", and definately after the OK-ish "Electronic Cafe" and rather iffy "The Mix". Certainly, the signs were not that encouraging when rumours started surfacing of a new album not long after the OK-but-not-brilliant "Expo 2000". Then when it turned out that the album was themed around 1983's "Tour De France" single, and would bookended by a reworking of the original, and mixes of a new "Tour De France 2003" single, the wails of anguished techno fans could be heard from Dusseldorf to Dundee. Well, the good news is the album is much better than expected, perhaps even better than "Electric Cafe".After 17 years away, it's still very Kraftwerkian. Very minimalist, very repetitive, very tight rhythms, improvisation co-existing with computer sequencing, no "tunes" as such but still very musical, the image of Kraftwerk depicted as four anonymous figures rather than distinct personalities, opaque multilingual lyrics detailing basic concepts rather than personal experiences, the upper case font typography and minimalist "conceptual" cover. Even the classic album template of six songs split between concept "tracks" is present and correct.The first 5 tracks are effectively a 19 minute megamix of the mixes of the slightly disappointing "Tour De France 2003" single. The mixes are effectively edited and linked together into a seamless whole, and even the repetition of the lyrics across the mixes don't matter so much. (It's Kraftwerk- they're supposed to be repetitive!) The best bits are the shiny "Etape 2" and "Chrono", which re-introduces the melodic freakout tricks last in used "Computer World". (In "Numbers" and "Home Computer")However, the album really takes off with "Vitamin", which melds old-skool Kraftwerk with a surprisingly funky laid-back electro beat and cut-up metallic synth guitar sound twanging in tight lock-step with the rhythm. Is Florian using his guitar again? And have Kraftwerk been taking note of the recent wave of bleep-and-beats R'n'B from the likes of Timbaland?Even better is "Aero Dynamik / Titanium", with a infuriatingly catchy bouncy bassline, a fast-moving vocal, hard-edged electro beats, and even a "Numbers"-style melodic freakout midway through. "Elektro Kardiogramm", another laid-back track, has a surprisingly *rock* feel to it- fortunately it's far superior to the laughable "Sex Object" from "Electric Cafe", the last attempt to put a bit of rock into Kraftwerk's technopop. "La Forme / Regeneration" is another slow one (What's suprising about this album, considering it's about a gruelling bicycle race, is how *relaxed* it is.) with a funky beat and melody floating in and out on a bed of filters and phased sound, presumably reflecting the cycles of the human body detailed in the lyrics.So far so good. And then the real clunker of the album- amazingly it's "Tour De France" itself. Not the original single of course, but a "re-creation" which manages to re-create the worst problems of "The Mix" by coming up with a pedestrain and wooly sounding (Surprisingly, given the polished sounds elsewhere on the album) re-make which sounds merely like a superior karaoke version. They'd have been better doing a slight remix of the original, or if they had space, used the Francois Kevorkian mix.Apart from that blip, this album is much better than was to be expected. Of course, now that people can beam themselves into the future with their home computer, and make Kraftwerkian sounds on public domain software (See http://www.buzzmachines.com/ ) we can't expect boys from Dusseldorf to knock us dead with their "futuristic" sounds anymore, nor do we need them to, but on this showing their artistic vision and musical ability is still is strong as ever."
Don't Call It A Komeback
M. Aranda | planet earth, dimension 4 | 11/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had no idea KW were going to release a new album; just two weeks after buying the French import TDF single I came across this while looking for "Ralf & Florian". I've only been listening to KW a short time, but they've become perhaps my favorite group. To make a long story short, the day I saw this I did not hesitate at all to purchase a copy.
And I had no idea what to expect. After such long silences, most groups disappoint their fans with new material. And for a group as legendary and mythical as Kraftwerk, I was very empathetic to the pressure they must have felt, particularly from critics.
Upon first listen I was disappointed, heart-broken really; two of my biggest musical heroes showing signs that their time had come and gone. I hadn't been this letdown since John Lydon's "Psycho's Path".
Then I listened to it again. And again. Although I still had a nagging feeling of letdown, for some reason I could not put this LP down. The first 5 tracks always seemed as if they would go on forever. But then I began to notice the subtle variations, the ever-changing mix, the hooks, melodies, cresendos and how they interwove. Suddenly I felt as though I were listening to some kind of modern synthetic classical peice. Like heroin, you puke the first time; but then you realize you're hooked after it's too late. That's what this album is: musical heroin without the ugly side-effects (ha ha). I've listened to this album nearly everyday since it came out and it never gets old.
After the initial piece, you're totally prepared for "Vitamin". This is definitely single material. It's the most immediatly infectious track of the album. It has everything Kraftwerk is known for: Stockhausen-type random sounds, tightly syncopated funk grooves, a totally futuristic sound. Not to mention the tongue-in-cheek lyric, which reads like a GNC shopping list.I won't pontificate on every track, but I have to mention that "La Forme" (one of the most abused tracks) has become my favorite. Strap on some high end headphones and close your eyes, because this song has the ability to transcend any environment you're in. It has the same "synth symphony" feel as the first 5 tracks.
Overall, this has become one of my favorite KW albums. IMHO, it's in their top 3, alongside Computer World & Man Machine. And I have a strong feeling that many critics who wrote this album off upon release are scratching their heads now, thinking the same thing.But I prefer the 80's mixes of the TDF single. The new percussion is to soft, I think. My only complaint & a small one, really. Cheers...
Oh, and I have never done heroin... :)"
Christopher M. Nabity | USA | 12/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is very underrated. I have read countless reviews that mention the monotony of the first five tracks. People scold Kraftwerk, pretty harshly I might add, for using the same theme through out in the first five tracks. They do the same with other albums as well. They scold them saying that they just repeat the same sound. It feels as though they are trying to call them lazy. Like their saying "maybe they should write completely different songs instead of using the same one over and over through out an entire album!" I've never heard anyone actually say this, but all the negative reviews similar to the ones I am reffering to sound like they want to.
I was introduced to Kraftwerk with this album. I do agree that TDF Soundtracks is not the best introduction for the group, however, I disagree with almost every negative comment I have heard about the album. First, I have noticed alot of minimalism in Kraftwerk's music. They are minimalists. They produce minimalism at its best. They use this sound very well, especially in TDF Soundtracks. Where I think most people, who reviw this album and Trans-Europe Express (or Trans Europa Express for me, as I prefer the German version), miss the level of understanding required to properly review the album is with the theme. They use the same theme through out the first five songs of TDF Soundtracks, this is similar to the style of Trans-Europe Express. People scold the group for this. However, I actually I enjoy their use of theme. They do more than take a suond and variate it enough to classify it as a 'new' sound. They are minimalists, they use this to their advantage. I see the variations on the theme, not the use of the theme, as not being minimalistic. They have a way of doing very subtile variations that create a world of difference. For the listener who can appreciate slight variations and pay attention to very fine details you will enjoy this album very much; as well as Trans Europe Express.
People, in my opinion, need to listen more closely to music that they do. Not only listen to it, 'hear' it. Listening is when a sound hits your ear and you notice that it has. Hearing is when you know what your listening to. I am not talking about technicals. I do not mean, you know you're listening to a 1Khz tone being emmited by a Moog Synthesizer. What I mean is that you listen to more than simply the beat or the rythm or both the beat and the rythm. Listening is done with the ears and maybe simple use of the brain. Hearing is done with the mind and the rest of your body. Listen to the music, your ears are simply there to grab the sound and send it to your brain. For those who do more with the music after it has been sent to your brain, you will enjoy Kraftwerk's subtile variations very much."