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Kraft und Karl

Entry 796 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash

I should be more careful with what I write, so told me a good friend. I know. I gave up good manners a while ago soon becoming the fat bellied belching and farting man in the restaurant at the end of my own private puniverse. After dinner mint anyone? Slowly I've become the person I once loathed. A transgression like in an Arthur Machen novel. Taste, even bad one, does change with age.

In 2003, after nearly two decades of doing nothing, the German band Kraftwerk came out with their Tour de France album. I was ecstatic. I tried to explain to people who found the album dull and monotonous that Kraftwerk wanted it to be that way. This was a postmodern representation of a real cycling event: 230 km of monotonous macadammacadammacadam with just a hysterical sprint at the end. Kraftwerk had promoted monotony to an art form. Stuff like that.

The press, who are normally circling like hungry vultures around – what they describe as – dinosaurs of rock, were also extremely gentle to the German band as if Kraftwerk were a kind of electronic Illuminati who may not be contradicted. But that the band could still kick ass was proven on the European MTV awards in 2003 where they mimed Aerodynamik to a generally stunned public. At around 2 minutes 30 (starting from the beginning of the song) an open mike unwillingly records a comment from a baffled bystander: “What the fuck is this?” This, my friend, is Kraftwerk, and to quote a further unknown music journalist: at 50 it is of more importance to be able to say: "I used to be a member of Kraftwerk" then: "I used to be a member of Pink Floyd."(Note)

While Tour de France (TDF) flooded the world like an electronic tsunami a former Kraftwerk band member, Karl Bartos, retorted with a solo album called Communication. Karl had left the band in 1991 allegedly because the other members had been more involved in designing aerodynamic bicycles then in making music. The Communication album was an insult to my ears, and I didn’t hesitate to ventilate my opinion on alt.music.kraftwerk. The Bartos album was Eurotrash to the extreme and I just couldn’t understand that the man behind it was the same dude who had given us such classics as Numbers, Computer Love, The Model and the 1983 prototype of Tour de France.

But anno 2008 none of the TDF tunes have made it onto my iPod while Communication is represented by 10 titles. And I have to confess: each single track of Communication contains enough kling klang material so that Kraftwerk could make an entire album out of it.

I won’t call Communication a good album; I still find it pretty average. But average in a pretty decent way.

Note . I couldn’t trace the source of this quote. But I once read it in a Kraftwerk live performance review. Back to text.

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