well here we are then. as I mentioned a while back when I started on the recent techno posting jag, the autobahn always leads us to kraftwerk. as do the trans-europe express and the tour de france. for german electronic artists like monolake and the raster-noton guys more obviously than most but they are everywhere. in the DNA of modern music. you may have read about the upcoming retrospective shows at moma. eight albums from autobahn to tour de france on consecutive nights. only two tickets per person across the whole series. it seems teeth grindingly exclusive but there’s no reason to think this won’t be repeated elsewhere. is there? what is kraftwerk? they belong in moma. there’s no doubt, their contribution is well worthy of the recognition. but are they also a museum piece in the negative sense? you could easily argue they have done nothing of consequence in 30 years now while so much greatness has flowed from their inspiration. and yet they never seem to have stopped, just moved on at their own exquisitely timed pace. their worthy contribution rests on the first 5 remarkable albums being performed in this series, the sixth ‘electric cafe/techno pop’ is widely regarded as their worst. to such a degree it was reworked and given a new title. the mix is just a new mix of past glories and tour de france, as glorious as it is, is just a whole album spun out from reworking an old hit. if you care to be cynical about it. such considerations do not seem to apply to kraftwerk though. they are not reforming as they never split up. they just are. if kraftwerk are people they are ralf hutter and florian schneider who were the core duo from 1968 to 2008 when they finally discovered, after only forty years, that they had musical differences and schneider left. to go cycling I think. is he coming back? it doesn’t matter. kraftwerk are not people. they are robots. ralf and florian’s creation for sure but not dependent on them for life. kraftwerk could go on for another 100 years without human input, as robots slowly playing out the multiple possibilities of the information already in their system.
the track here today is based on their album ‘radioactivity’. a personal favourite of mine, it was the first to be released in german and english versions and to feature the robot voices so associated with them. indeed, the majority of the tracks seem to be short experiments in the use of processed voices or particular electronic sounds. there is a lot of space in the record and the less realised pieces seemed to form a kit with which different combinations could be assembled. to be honest, there are many possibilities but the original idea here was to have them all playing at once. this version results from a few edits and shifts here and there, the omission of ‘airwaves’ and ‘antenna’ because they were too dense but otherwise it is the whole of the album piled up on top of itself in under 10 mins, the shorter pieces slowly giving way to the lovely ‘ohm sweet ohm’. the announcement of the moma shows made me consider doing it for the other records but really it only works for ‘radioactivity’ because there are so many short and minimal tracks on it. there are more possibilities with it though, a german version for one, I didn’t engage in a lot of tinkering or anything. I’ve only played it out once. at cargo. sounded pretty good on the big system but seemed to confuse the early comers who heard it. not to mention my ‘dj life partner’.