Do you know who released the first album of the 21st Century? The answer is Kraftwerk. Do pay attention at the back there; the subject of this review gave you a heavy handed hint! Now before you go surfing the net to check my facts, and consequently post on the forum here that I ‘don’t know jack’ let me explain. Kraftwerk were once so brilliant that the first album of the 21st Century was actually released way back in 1981, and it still sounds great!
Once upon a time Kraftwerk were so ahead of the game that to describe any new album of theirs as ‘contemporary’ would have been no more accurate than describing Coldplay as ‘talented’ or Polish food as ‘delicious’. Every new album sounded so futuristic as to make all other electronic bands sound pedestrian by comparison. That this album was the last time, in my opinion, Kraftwerk pulled off this feat may explain why this remains my favourite album of theirs.
The cover shows the faces of the four band members on an early eighties PC screen, which means it would not fit into an average sized house. This was not a problem, however, as no one who lived in an average sized house could have afforded one in those days anyway. There are only six tracks and the entire album clocks in a little over half an hour. What you have here is quality, if not quantity. The subject matter includes home computing and computing dating, neither of which existed in 1981. This added to its futuristic feel, but without delving into the far fetched realms of science fiction. In fact this album describes the world of the nineties onwards with chilling accuracy. Perhaps they had a time machine. The music is best described as robotic and mechanical, clichés but they fit, overlaid with classical melodies in places. Some tracks are very danceable and no Kraftwerk review would be complete without using the T word so here goes, it sounds very Teutonic. The production is clear, crisp and certain to delight analogue synth lovers like myself.
This is without doubt the most influential album I own, and is quite likely one of the most influential albums of all time. It is still sampled today, most famously by that ‘talented’ band Coldplay, and is responsible for House, Trance, Hip-Hop, Electro and many other schools of music, but please do not hold that against it.
This is an absolutely essential album.
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