'Sprint final à l'arrivée, Tour De France..................'
Eli | North East England - The UK | 01/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
There is [and undoubtedly will continue to be] a fair degree of criticism of this album.
It has been deemed to be too 'repetitive', 'dull' and 'boring'. Such broad, sweeping charges should cause us to cast a more discerning and critical
eye on both this and other Kraftwerk projects. Take for example, 'Trans Europa Express'
[the German version]. On that album there are 3 sequential variations of the title track;
and the last track offers a brief variation or 'reprise' of the first. Again, two tracks on one
of the most influential concept albums of all time are variants on a singular general theme -
'Computer World' and 'Computerworld 2'. Are you aware that the word 'Computer'
appears in 4 of the 7 track titles; and another includes the word 'Compute'. But this fact
does nothing to demote the undisputed important landmark classic status of the whole. If you look and listen hard enough then you will also discover that these conceptual
developmental themes are not uncommon in the classical music world either. So it
should come as no great surprise to find two classically trained musicians namely -
Ralph Hutter and Florian Schneider - composing alternate and similar formations of
musical scores. Therefore, TDF soundtracks contains character traits in common with
the aforementioned titles, because although thematically and musically some of the tracks
appear the same, there are in them some notable differences in both sound and musical
arrangements. To cast off TDF Soundtracks as dull, repetitive and boring after one or two hearings is a
very valid but equally unfair critical misunderstanding of what I consider to be great originality.
The album attempts to convey to us the overall grandeur and excitement associated with
participating in the Tour De France. There is also a sense in which the length, variation
and merging of the tracks [especially 2-5] actually serves to convey both the overall fluidity
of the race, and the huge distances and challenges that each participating cyclist must endure
throughout. From the outset, the TDF Soundtracks 2003 takes us to the starting line of this famous
cycling competition. The 'prologue' is if you like, an opening push into the start of the race.
And if you have ever ridden a bicycle, then maybe you will appreciate the gradual transition
from a stationary position to a smooth progression of pace as you work through the lower
gears. Imagine as you listen through the TDF variations, the enthusiastic exhilaration of
peddling along roads, around mountains, through villages and countryside; speeding up;
slowing down; controlled breathing. Consider the physical exertion associated with a hill
climb - and as a result both feeling and hearing the heartbeat pounding in your mouth;
sweating, dehydrating and drinking juice from a bottle. Consider the joy, the pain -
the competitive strain - the freedom! It actually works very well, even more so for the
initiated. There are a few hidden, distant musical shades of 'Computer World' and other works
throughout the whole adventure, and although sometimes very subtle they are well
worth listening out for. There is a clever, genial simplicity in many of the lyrical scores -
which certainly only Kraftwerk could produce - alongside some truly refreshing musical
brilliance. 'Vitamin' and 'Aero Dynamik' are beautifully crafted, and their meaning
and connection to the main theme should be plain, even to a glancing non-participant.
The heart beating introduction and overall rhythm in 'Elektro kardiogramm' is quite
simply and truly breathtaking. 'La Forme' opens with a quiet solo rhythmic beat which
bursts into a bright electronic crescendo of sound, almost as if you can see beyond the
pain barriers and gruelling exercises of the event, towards the finishing line ahead in
the distance. "Nearly there; I've almost made it; the yellow shirt is mine for the taking!" And what more fitting end, what better and more logically brisk way to complete the
'Tour De France' than with the words "Sprint final à l'arrivée" from an invigorating new,
soft and subtle variant of the original title song? This is a very special 12th track for fans
who in a sense have waited, not '13' nor even '17' years for the new album [as some say],
but about 20 years. For in my humble opinion, with this crowning glory, 'Techno Pop'
has finally arrived. For just as 'Tour De France' is a track that would have been on the
album that never was; so also like a great consolation, Tour De France Soundtracks is
the finest follow-up concept album that Kraftwerk SHOULD have released next after
Computer World. Put aside for a moment if you will, the negative criticism and enjoy the race -
From 'Start' to 'Finish' TDF Soundtracks is a 'breath of fresh air' for cyclists
and non-cyclists alike! And jolly well worth the long wait!IMPORT BONUS:
As a little extra, the Japanese import version contains a superb CDROM of the accompanying
video to the TDF2003 single. And on the inside of an additional good quality paper lyric sheet
[in Japanese, of course!], is a great poster like advert for the album containing the 4 cyclists in
greyscale -as depicted on the CD cover - along with a track listing with comments in Japanese.
A Kraftwerk collectors item in waiting perhaps?"
Wrong track listing
Daniel Ray Ziegler | SF CA | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is no track called "Kling Klang" The extra track is a quicktime video of "Tour De France 03 Version 2". Amazon retains CDNow's bad habit of getting the track listing wrong. The video is great, but I can't understand why the domestic release did not include it. I hate having to buy an album more than once!!"