The Electric Adolescence Guide to Kraftwerk

The Electric Adolescence Guide to Kraftwerk

If every action triggers and equal but opposite reaction, it could be argued that Kraftwerk’s obsessive relationship with technology was a response to the anarchistic post-war regret felt by many of their countrymen. With the band presenting a version of Germany set far enough in the future to make its past seem light years away, the predictive nature of Ralf Hutter and Florian Schumann’s progression reads like a science fiction novel about man slowly consumed by the machines he helped devise.

The early days of Kraftwerk were comprised of unselfconscious instrumental jams with a fluxuating lineup of musicians who would take a part in defining krautrock on a whole. The result was earthy and flawed, using technology to accentuate unmistakeably human musical behavior. The 1974 release of Autobahn would redefine the band to a point that they would all but dismiss the three records that proceeded it. Synthesizers and drum machines created a sonic palette impeccably suited to their ultramodern sensibilities, and the vocoder previously used as a flourish was brought to the fore, giving the man-machine its voice. A critical consensus marks this as the heyday of their harmony between man and technology.

By the mid 1980’s, it was as if the machines were pushing the humans into the background, with personal appearances made by the automated mannequins that had become their avatars. The last album was released in 1986, marking a commercial and critical low that sent Ralf and Florian into self-exhile. Kraftwerk remained mostly dormant until the turn of the century when the computer world they had predicted was coming to fruition. Unburdened by their human hosts, the robots returned to update their catalog for a world that had traded radio waves for broadband signals – from a series of visually motivated live shows to a reinterpretation of Tour De France sheepishly labeled as a remix project.

If Kraftwerk’s arc mirrors that of a sci-fi story, it’s only appropriate that what might otherwise feel like the closing moments of a final act now hints at a new beginning. Musings about an impending album of new material is a tantalizing prospect from a band that has fluxuated in their output, but like technology itself, has never allowed us to doubt its ultimate potential.
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THE ELECTRIC ADOLESCENCE GUIDE TO KRAFTWERK

Ruckzuck
Kling Klang
Ananas Symphonie
Autobahn (1981 Reissue Version)
Uranium
Antenna
Die Stimme Der Energie
Showroom Dummies
Trans Europe Express
Europe Endless
Neon Lights (Single Edit)
The Robots
The Telephone Call
The Model
Pocket Calculator
Nummern
It’s More Fun To Compute
The Man Machine
Tour De France (1983 Kevorkian Extended Mix)
Musique Non-Stop (Edit #2)
Techno Pop
Elektro Kardiogramm
Expo 2000 (Virus 13 Mix)
The Man Machine (Black Sand 7 Inch Remix)
Ohm Sweet Ohm

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ELECTRIC ADOLESCENCE PRESENTS: KRAFTWERK LIVE

Vocoder Intro/ Tuning (Secret Gig, Festival Hall, London. 9-01-75)
K4 (Bremen Radio Live Session 1971)
Die Stimme Der Energie (Live in Paris 1981)
Mitternacht (Leverkusen 4-22-74)
Trans Europe Express (Tokyo 09-07-81)
Autobahn (Live Unknown)
Verstehen Sie Deutsch (Budapest 8-14-81)
Home Computer (Tokyo 09-07-81)
Computerwelt (Live Tokyo)
Hall of Mirrors (The Computer Tour, Italy 7-6-81)
Das Model (Tempodrom, Berlin, 03-24-04)
Franz Schbert, Endless Endless (Museum Modern Art, New York 4-12-12)
Radioactivity (Akasaka Blitz, Tokyo)
The Robots (Livorno, Italy, 7-18-09)
The Man Machine (Live, Unknown)
Aero Dynamik (Live From Riga, Latvia, 5-29-04)
Vitamin (Live from Moscow 03-06-04)
Music Non Stop (Live from Moscow 03-06-04)
Post Concert Interview (Triad Radio, Chicago 1975)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE ELECTRIC ADOLESCENCE GUIDE TO KRAUTROCK