Audio Objekt on CD

It's here - the CD debut from Sweden's own Kraftwerk cover band/renewal crew/thematic update organisation. They are YouTube celebrities and they are Kraftwerk mailing list email bashing victims. They are Audio Objekt. Their debut cd is entitled "Vår Nya Värld", after their translation of "Computer World". And I think I like it.

It has been revealed before who the two "objekts" (or members) of Audio Objekt are. And at least one of them, objekt Håkan Lidbo, has a specific, trademark sound that can be heard clearly in these songs.

The cd features 6 tracks, where two are Audio Object's renditions of "Computer World" (Vår Nya Värld) and "The Model" (Modellen). Another track is "Artificial Personality", a song that is a few years old already, that features some samples from a Ralf Hütter interview that the second object, Patrik Persson, did a few years ago.

Apart from this, what makes the cd interesting is the remixes. They are all very well crafted, sort of underground-dance-music type remixes, that are credited to Jeff Bennett and complete unknowns Meldodix and Leuka Kestääpesiä. My take on this is that Håkan Lidbo himself, and maybe also Andreas Tilliander (who has mastered the cd) has been involved here. But who knows? Maybe Leuka Kestääpesiä is a rising star on the finnish tech-house scene, just waiting to be discovered.

I'm not sure, but this cd might be hard to get in the near future. There was an article on the subject yesterday in Swedish daily Metro, where it was stated that publisher Sony/ATV has stopped Audio Objekt from selling the CD, at least until the new, Swedish lyrics has been reviewed by the original writers. And we all know who they are.


Kraftwerk + Atom (and some audio science)

While going through my emails this morning, these two stood out. Even though the first one is most likely complete bullshit.


There is a rumour abroad that Uwe Schmidt (aka Lassigue Bendthaus, Señor Coconut, etc.) has asked Kraftwerk to remix the forthcoming Atom Heart album.


Hear Voices? It May Be an Ad

New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman's voice right in her ear asking, "Who's there? Who's there?" She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, "It's not your imagination."

Indeed it isn't. It's an ad for "Paranormal State," a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week. The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an "audio spotlight" from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium. The technology, ideal for museums and libraries or environments that require a quiet atmosphere for isolated audio slideshows, has rarely been used on such a scale before.

For random passersby and residents who have to walk unwittingly through the area where the voice will penetrate their inner peace, it's another story.

The article.


Stockhausen RIP

Karlheinz Stockhausen has passed away, at the tender age of 79. Read more here.


Autobahn - the animated short film

in 1979, british animator Roger Mainwood did an amazing animated film around Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", while working at the Halas and Batchelor studios. This short film was Mainwood's first assignment for the company.

The Halas and Batchelor Colllection website describes the clip this way:

A visual interprtation of Kraftwerk’s music Autobahn. A fast paced experimental film which proved to be a ground breaking combination of electronic and manual animation. It has now become an icon of late seventies design and music. One of the first films produced specifically for video disk.
The clip has recently been restored, and is now available via YouTube:

There is also a short documentary/behind the scenes type clip about the making of the Autobahn animations available. See it here.

Kraftwerk on BBC (get it here)

BBC Radio 4 - Factual:

Kraftwerk: We Are the Robots

Thursday 22 November 2007 11:30-12:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Marc Riley traces the career of Kraftwerk, whose 1970s electronic music owed more to the experimental German classical compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen than to any pop tradition. They were part of a new generation of young West Germans, living in the shadow of the Cold War, who identified with the need to recapture a German cultural identity distinct from that of Britain and America.

Followed by News.

Here's an mp3 of the show, that I found on-line. Kudos to the person who recorded it.


More Kraftwerk Covers!

It's mp3 time again. Let's do it:

Shadowy Men From A Shadowy Planet - "Autobahn"

Shadowy Men From A Shadowy Planet were formed in 1984, in Canada. They played instrumental rock, and their greatest acheivement and heritage is probably that they recorded the theme song to the tv-series Kids In The Hall ...

This, however, is their cover of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn". The song was never officially released - it originates from a tape that was transferred into this Chunklet post.

Listen or download here:

Busy P - "It's More Fun to Compute"

This guy is the manager of Daft Punk and the owner of Ed Banger Records. But he also finds time to make music and release his own records. This is his version of Kraftwerk's "It's More Fun to Compute". As far as I know, it was only released through Busy P's MySpace page.

Listen or download here:

Bonus cover:

The Divine Comedy - "Radio Activity"


Kraftwerk comics

I've written before about the spanish cartoonist Calpurnio, and his el bueno del Cuttlas stories, that from time to time include the four Kraftwerk characters. But now, it's time to take a peak at two Swedish examples.

This first one is from the strip Rocky, published daily in Dagens Nyheter. This is from a few days ago. Look at the wall, next to other excellent choices such as MF DOOM and Yngwie Malmsteen, and you will see four familiar album covers.

Then there's this, from the Galago magazine and the year 2000. This is a 6 page story called "GOD" by Swedish surrealist/cartoonist John Andersson, who once published an entire comic album starring Florian Schneider, called "Schneiderduschen".

In the story sampled below, the first sentence on page one is "God is a lefthanded office clerk and as you can see, he bears a striking resemblance to Florian Schneider". Brilliant stuff.

Hey, click the images for larger versions.


Rheingold is (looking) back

It appears Rheingold have woken up. And in the process they have covered themselves, as well as a number of other interesting acts from the Düsseldorf past. Listen to this.

Rheingold, a German NDW band active during the early 80's, probably most renowned for their electronic hit "Fan Fan Fanatisch" from 1984, has been quiet for a long time. Their last complete album was released somewhere around 23 years ago.

But last week they popped up from nowhere again, on several music download sites (such as Juno, Emusic) with a brand new concept album, "Electric City - Düsseldorfer Schule".

The album contains one new Rheingold track, "Alte Shule" (old school), but apart from that, it's a cover album from start to end. Every song is a cover of a song by a band from the Düsseldorf area, including La Düsseldorf, Kraftwerk, Fehlfarben, Michael Rother and Propaganda, as well as their own "Dr. Mabuse" from 1985. This is the complete track list:
  • La Düsseldorf – “Geld Regiert Die Welt" (1978)
  • Fehlfarben - "Es Geht Voran" (1980)
  • Rheingold - "3Klangsdimensionen" (1980)
  • Electric Music - "Crosstalk" (1992)
  • Propaganda - "Dr. Mabuse" (1985)
  • Michael Rother - "Karussell" (1976)
  • Karl Bartos - "Life" 2003)
  • Kraftwerk - "Autobahn" (1974)
  • Rheingold - "Alte Schule" (2007)

The label behind the release is a bit of a mystery to me. It's called 3Klang Records. There was a 3-Klang Records (note the hyphen) in the early 90's, that re-released some other German classics in a similar genre (DAF, Grauzone and a few others). I don't know if this is the same label or not. If it is - what the hell have they been doing for the last 15 years?


Duran Duran bring Kraftwerk to Broadway

During their currently ongoing 9 date new-album-release-concert-extravaganza on Broadway in NYC, Duran Duran has split their set into three parts. The first part contains tracks from the new album and the third part is the "hits!" runthrough, to keep fans happy going home. But we're going to take a closer look at the middle, second part. The part that has been refered to as the "techno set" or "electro set".

Combined with some of their own tracks, Duran Duran (for this part of the show lined up in a straight Kraftwerk-like line) performed covers of Kraftwerk's "Showroom Dummies" and "Warm Leatherette" from The Normal. The complete list for their techno/electro set was:
  • Showroom Dummies
  • Last Chance on the Stairway
  • All She Wants Is
  • Warm Leatherette
  • I Don’t Want Your Love
  • Skin Trade

So, what did it sound like? And what did it look like? Well ... You be the judge.

Showroom Dummies:

All She Wants Is / Warm Leatherette


Kraftwerk history revisited (sooner or later)

I read this one short sentence on a Kraftwerk mailing list just now, and felt it was the more interesting sentences I've read in a looong time. It might not look as much, but it is:

Mr. Hütter promised that the 3(!) pre Autobahn albums will be released as remastered cd's after the Catalogue.

Pretty good news, if you ask me. And judging from the source of the quote, it might very well be true.


Underground Resistance

In the latest issue of The Wire, the following Kraftwerk/age related quotes are credited to Underground Resistance mystery man "Mad" Mike Banks:

"But why should you give up at forty years old? Kraftwerk is a great inspiration. I don't know how old they are. They don't even seem to have an age, they seem like some sweet-ass aliens that don't age, because they still tour, they still make records."

"But I think Kraftwerk were great pioneers in the beginning and now they act as great inspirations, because I've seen them play live many, many times but I've never heard anyone talk about their age. Never. To their credit, I always say great things about them, because in the early days, I never heard anybody say anything about their race. They weren't Germans, they weren't white, in fact we thought they were robots. For the longest, we thought they were robots. We had no idea they were human beings till we saw their show. They played in Nitro's in Detroit way back in the day."

An unedited transcript of the interview with Mike Banks can be read here.



Minimum-Maximum Flash Whatchamacallit

Click image above to get started. Then push the green keys to do things.

Yes, I know it's a bit small. Go here for a full size version.


Fatboy Slim (yes)

I didn't expect it to happen, ever, but a few days ago it did. I bought a Fatboy Slim record. But there's a decent reason - as it's a 7" and it contains the fatboy's cover of Kraftwerk's Radioactivity.

The song is allright I guess. Fatboy Slim bring some "1960s pop" type drums into the mix. This will be noted as his unique input into the Kraftwerk universe. The vocals are sung by a female vocalist called Myriam Tisler (this could be her). In fact, ths song has a friendly feel to it, like a motown version of the big beat sound.

The b side of the 7" is noteworthy as well, as it features Bootsy Collins (!) reading a poem. The words are written by Fatboy Slim's ex bandmate, from The Housemartins, Paul Heaton, who in later years has been known as the leader of The Beautiful South.

All in all, this is one strange record.


Control - the Ian Curtis movie. With Autobahn.

I went to see Control, Anton Corbijn's black and white debut movie that tells the story of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, at the extremely comfortable Electric cinema in London the other day. Ever since it was anounced some months ago that Kraftwerk's Autobahn was included on the movie soundtrack CD, the movie has been the subject of some discussion amongst the online Kraftwerk fans.

After having seen the movie, I can tell you this:
  1. The song is used in a short sequence, by the water.
  2. They are not playing the most typical (recognizable) part of the song, i.e. if you are not looking for it you might miss it.
  3. The version of Autobahn on the CD is 11 minutes and 23 seconds long. A version of that length has never before been released, as far as I am aware. It appears someone has basically cut a section or two in the middle of the song to make it fit on the soundtrack CD. The 22 minutes of the original is a bit much, maybe. But the sound is better than on the officially released Autobahn CDs, which is nice.


Audio Objekt - the interview

Yesterday, an "interview" with Audio Objekt (see my last post) appeared on YouTube. It's all in Swedish, but the interviewer has a German accent...

See below for my (very rough) translation.


Q: Why are you called Audio Objekt?

A: We are objects and we deal with sounds.

A2: That's right.

Q: Can't you write your own songs?

A: We can write our own songs, we have written one called Artificial Personality. Apart from that we like covers.

A2: That's right.

Q: Why do you like Kraftwerk so much?

A: Because it's better if you can say something with three notes instead of a thousand.

A2: That's right.

Q: Is it true that you have collaborated with Ralf Hütter from Kraftwerk?

A: A long time ago, a few years ago, he visited us here in our studio in Lund. He was a very likeable person. We felt that we thought and felt... [unintelligable] Ralf Hütter, a great man. But he didn't like the food at Hotel Lundia, and eventually that became a problem.

A2. That's right.

Q. Is it correct that you auditioned when Kraftwerk were looking for new members?

A. We were bicycling through the Ruhr area when we saw an ad in the Düsseldorfer Allgemenie newspaper about an audition. We went there, we bring our synthesizers everywhere so we bought them along. We auditioned, Ralf invited us in but it didnt work out. I don't know why, I think Florian didn't really like us. So we didn't join the band. But at least we've been to the Kling Klang studio. If that was where we were. Was it?

Q. Is it true that you met Kraftwerk during a cycling competition in Bavaria?

A. Yes, that was at the "Bayern runt" competition. It turned out, Ralf is a real mountain goat, but not quite as good at the time trial segments. And Florian proved to do best going downhill.

Q. Your music is socially critical. Are you like anarchists or something?

A. We haven't decided yet... There's a strong tradition in Lund of syndicalism and pragmatism. We haven't yet decided, we're sort of in between. We're mostly into cyclism, escapism.

Q. Is it true that you are also "Tyskarna från Lund"?

A. At least, we do come from Lund. And my grandfather's father was german. Or, he spent a lot of time in Germany. Or if it was Denmark. At least, we come from Lund. We come from Lund.

Q. Why this fascination with Germany?

A. At least, we do come from Lund.

Q. Is it true that one of you plays synthersizers in bob hund?

A. We can neither confirm or deny that. Or confirm.

Q. Why are you wearing glasses? Do you have the same refractive error?

A. We're both astigmatic, -3 on the right eye and -2 on the left one.

A2. -2,5 on the left eye.

A. Is that change recent?

Q. How do you work in the studio? Do you have a lot of cool, old synthesizers?

A: Our studio is a mixture between analogue and digital, between dark and bright sounds, between electronic and acoustic. Between man and machine, one might say.

A2: That's right.

Q. Are you going to release more records? Maybe an album?

A. We release records continuously. We release several records every year, and we are going to continue doing so.

A2. That's right.


Audio Objekt - Kraftwerk in swedish

Audio Objekt is a Swedish duo, with a fake biography reminiscent of a certain band from Düsseldorf. The members, Objekt 1 and Objekt 2, for instance released the album "Objekt1 und Objekt 2" in the beginning of their career - after 2 experimental albums.

Audio Objekt really is a duo, with members Håkan Lidbo and Patrik Persson. Lidbo is the most well known of the two, having released close to 200 records in every conceivable electronic genre during the last 15 years or so, from glitch minimalism to straight pop dance songs.

This video is their version of Kraftwerks "Computer World", which translated in to Swedish and into the 21st century has become "Vår nya värld".

Audio Objekt has also covered Kraftwerk's "The Model", renaming it "Modellen". Also in Swedish. "Modellen" is available in mp3 format here.


Den gåtfulla människan

Fans tend to loop certain questions. Within the Kraftwerk community, the loops are few but endless:
  1. When will The Catalogue be released?
  2. Electric Café was initially intended to be released as "Techno Pop". Are these demos that I found online real?
  3. What band is the next Kraftwerk?

I dont know the answer to the first question, but the answer to the second one is probably Trans-Europe Express.

Peoples attempts to answer the third question will usually point to somebody from the Detroit area. Drexciya and related projects are often mentioned. But while I like Arpanet and Der Zyklus as much as the next guy, I still think that is taking the easy way out.

This is why I now present my own nominee to the title, Eric Malmberg, and specifically his album "Den gåtfulla människan" that was released by Häpna in 2005. It's all made by one man and a Hammond organ, but listen to that extra dry, barren beat in this sample track, that I have borrowed from the Häpna label website.

Eric Malmberg - Språk och tankestrukturer (mp3)

It's definitely not electro, but it feels more like Kraftwerk (Autobahn/Radio-Activity era, I guess) than Drexciya ever did (no matter which era).

Eric has just released a new record, called "Verklighet & Beat". The new one is recorded with a full band, which makes it a lot bigger in sound and a bit more folksy than "Den gåtfulla människan". But it's still nice and Bo Hansson is on it, so you should buy both.


Glass Candy does Kraftwerk

Cross-breed Donna Summer (the real one, not this one) with Abba, Blondie, Chromeo, Baccara and Chicks on Speed. Continue by slowing it down a bit, and you've got Glass Candy - an american post CD-r death disco scene act with some weird swedish connections.

Quite recently, Glass Candy did a version of Kraftwerk's "Computer Love". It's an enjoyable version, relaxed almost to the state of drug induced haze.


The song is available on this compilation.


It's the Yamo "Time Pie" EPK!

I know YouTube is available to everyone, and i realize this makes re-posting YouTube videos in your blog a rather pointless activity.

But I'm going to do it anyway, as I happened to stumble over something really interesting. It's Wolfgang Flür's Electronic Press Kit, from the release of Yamo's "Time Pie" album. The EPK contains some video footage I hadn't seen before, including a 1993 interview from MTV where longtime Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult also appears.

Part 1:

And part 2:


Kraftwerk: Aerodynamik + La Forme Remixes (by Hot Chip, that is)

The new Kraftwerk single is out now. This is what it looks like, at least if you get the cd version.

As I am sure you know, Hot Chip has split itself into two pairs to make the remixes. Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard did Aerodynamik (Intelligent Design Mix), while Al Doyle and Felix Martin did La Forme (King of the Mountains Mix).

The truth is, La Forme is not quite perfect. There could be an idea or two missing, leaving the remix not quite a complete song. The Aerodynamik remix, on the other hand, could most likely get a dancefloor or two moving.


All Right, You Little Bastards!

OK, so I recently published Big Black's version of Kraftwerk's "The Model", and Zeni Gevas cover of "Sex Object". I also hinted about the connection between Big Black main man Steve Albini and the japanese KK Null/Zeni Geva crowd. So I might as well...

In 1992, Steve Albini and Zeni Geva played two shows together in Japan. These concerts, as far as I know the only two they ever played together, are documented on the album "All Right, You Little Bastards!", that was released the following year. And on that album, we find another cover of "The Model", recorded at their second show, at the Fandango in Osaka , on April 3, 1992.

Right now, you can download it here.


Between the sheets with Kraftwerk

There are many weird Kraftwerk-related records out there. Classical, metal, hiphop, U2... But this, a Kraftwerk tribute medley 7" "Late Night Radio" by a band called Late Night Radio, must be one of the weirder ones.

The copy I have was released by Beat Box in 1984. This label, as far as I understand and/or remember, was somewhat related to the Vinyl Mania record store in Stockholm, Sweden. Beat Box released italo disco (artists like Koto, Scotch and Den Harrow), typically on 7" or 12" vinyl, and predominantly songs that was already released by other labels. But Beat Box added their own remixes, making the records unique anyway. Almost all of their remixes were called "Swedish Remix" and were created by someone called Fredrik Ramel.

And then there's this. A strange italo disco medley of Kraftwerk covers, completely surrounded at all ends by Vangelis "Chariots of fire" (which is also a cover, in italo disco style). According to the label, the producers of the record are Svengile and Puzzle. I don't have much information on any of them, but they appear to be Italian, and Puzzle's given name might be Silvio Puzzolu. The two of them also produced the LP "Night Heroes", also released in 1983, which contains a medley of tracks by Giorgio Moroder, Japan and Sparks.

The Kraftwerk medley was also released in an extended 12" version.


Conny Plank in dub

I recently read this post about the Deadly Dragon Soundbox. The box, pictured above, is a new tool for soundsystem use, cleverly engineered to add siren sounds to the reggae set by pushing it's rasta coloured buttons.

But then I felt I had seen the thing before... And well, I was almost right. Look what Conny Plank is reaching for in the picture below.

Uncanny. Sure, it's a bigger model, but the picture ought to be at least 25 years old and nanotechnology hadn't yet been invented.


From Von Südenfed to Mouse On Mars to Yamo and Flür

I’m obviously a bit late on the ball here, but I still thought I'd write a few lines on Von Südenfed. And then drift away towards the Kraftwerk territories you've gotten you used to. Right:

Von Südenfed released their debut album, called "Tromatic Reflexxions", in May. They are a newly formed band, consisting of the two members of Mouse on Mars, Jan St Werner and Andi Toma, and Mark E. Smith, main (or only) man of The Fall.

The trio has collaborated briefly once before, when Mark E. Smith provided vocals on the Mouse on Mars' 12" "Wipe That Sound". But that was different. This time, they've formed an actual trio, and you can hear the difference.

Musically, the album is quite varied. There is a certain leftfield quirkyness throughout, but at certain points it leans more towards broken beat. But in a non-standard way. And there's strumming of guitars, probable field recordings and a big chunk of electronic trickery. In "Jbak Lois Lane", a brilliant interlude, someone basically handles a lawn mower and a lawn edger/trimmer (or both at the same time), and MES seems to want the guy to stop.

Download Von Südenfed - "Jbak Lois Lane" here.

Von Südenfed is the second major celebrity collaboration for Mouse on Mars. In 1995, former Kraftwerk drummer Wolfgang Flür helped the duo by adding a drum track to a song on their second album, "Iaora Tahiti". Mouse on Mars repaid the debt the year after, working together with Mr Flür to create his first, and so far only, post Kraftwerk album "Time Pie", which was released under his still active Yamo alias.

I dug out an old issue of The Wire magazine today, issue 159 from May 1997 to be specific (that's right, never throw anything away), since I vaguely remembered it containing an article on the Cologne scene of the time, in which Mouse on Mars spoke out about their experiences with Flür during the making of the Yamo album. And it did.

"He brought us to collapse", says Jan, wincing at the memory. "I think we all met at a level of what we call schlager [crass pop hits] in Germany. Not even Easy Listening, more like Easy Thinking".

In reality, the schlager reference might be a bit to harsh. The vocals on the album are irritating, and so are the lyrics. But that is the main flaw, as the music is not half bad. It is basically pleasant techno pop, and almost all of the tracks has a sense of that deep electronic dub that Mouse on Mars did so well back then. Actually, the brilliantly dubby "Stereomatic (Stereomagic)" from "Time Pie" is lifted almost exactly as is from Mouse on Mars "Iaora Tahiti" album. The main differences are that the Mouse on Mars version is called "Stereomission", and that the Yamo version has vocals on top.

Listen for yourselves.

Download Mouse on Mars - "Stereomission" here.

Download Yamo - "Stereomatic (Stereomagic)" here.


Harmonia, large and in charge

According to Michael Rothers website, Harmonia will not only release the live recording from 1974 as we've mentined below. No. They will also perform live in Berlin again, for the first time in over 30 years. Here's the information, as it was written by someone else:

Berlin will see the first Harmonia concert since 1976 on 27th November 2007 when Michael Rother, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius will open the Worldtronics festival at the "Haus der Kulturen der Welt" with their live appearance as Harmonia. More information will follow soon.


Computer Rock 2000

Time has come to turn this publication into an mp3 blog. But just for a minute or so, while we're delving into the area of Kraftwerk covers.

Quite a few of these has been done throughout the years. We've heard bland electro versions, symphony orchestra renditions, and a late version from the Simple Minds. But there has been a few interesting ones as well. Here's a small selection of the latter, selected from the rock/punk/noise area.

Big Black - "The Model"

Big Black, formed in 1982, recorded this cover of Kraftwerks "The Model" for a double a-side 7" single released in 1987. The other track on the 7" was a cover of Cheap Trick's "He's a Whore". Both songs are also available on the CD version of the Big Black album "Songs About Fucking", while the LP version omits the Cheap Trick song.

You'll have to read more about Steve Albini (influential genius, general mastermind and front figure of both Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac) somewhere else. And we're happy to have a reason to use the above picture.


Harry Pussy - "Showroom Dummies"

Over to Harry Pussy, then, a noise rock band from Miami that was active for 5 or 6 years in the mid 90s. It's a bit hard to describe what they did, but take a look at this video and you'll grasp the basics. See? Noise rock is a fairly appropriate term here.

Their cover of Kraftwerk's "Showroom Dummies", as far as i can recall/find out it was recorded in 1995, is possibly still available for purchase on the "What Was Music?" compilation cd. The likeness to the original is uncanny ...

Teddybears STHLM - "The Robots"

From the release of the "Extra Pleasure" ep in 1993 up to (and including) the release of the album "I Can’t Believe It’s Teddybears STHLM" in 1996, Teddybears STHLM were one of the more interesting Swedish hardcore bands. Later, they turned into the somewhat less interesting party machine that is currently conquering the world backwards, by selling songs to computer games, tv commercials and movie soundtracks (Caddilac, Intel, Heineken, Music and Lyrics, Bones, Epic Movie, FIFA, and many others). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

For the "I Can’t Believe It’s Teddybears STHLM" album, the band recorded a version of Kraftwerk's "The Model". The cover was also released as a single a few months later.

Zeni Geva - "Sex Object"

Fronted by legendary noise artist KK Null, this Japanese metal band has been active since 1987 (Happy 20th!). The band was formed by Null, picking a guitarist from Boredoms and a drummer from Hanatarash, two other important bands in the outskirts of Japanese experimental rock noise. Many of the Zeni Geva records have been produced by Steve Albini, mentioned above.

For the rather good (which is rare) Kraftwerk tribute album "Musique Non Stop", released in 1998 featuring artists such as Melt-Banana and Buffalo Daughter, Zeni Geva recorded this cover of Kraftwerk's "Sex Object". Listen all the way through, it gets better towards the end.

Parts of the "Music Non Stop" album were later rereleased by another label as "The Radioactive Tribute to Kraftwerk", but the new version of the record excludes the harder material, such as the Zeni Geva and Melt-Banana tracks.

BONUS: Melt-Banana - "Showroom Dummies"

Since Melt-Banana is such a brilliant band, here's their edgy version of "Showroom Dummies" as well. This one's also taken from the "Musique Non Stop" album.


Sunglasses on robots! Why, Kraftwerk? Why?

Kraftwerk has, at least since around 1973 or so, been a rather minimalistic outfit. Sharp suits, strict positioning, law and order, straight lines. But there's one thing that breaks the mold, and it haunts me. It's not Florian Schneider's hats or weird side projects, and it's not the nervous shape Ralf Hütter's hand assumes when he's singing. No, sirree.

It's the sunglasses. Sunglasses on robots.

1. The "comeback era" look

Remember the wireframe suits Kraftwerk introduced just before the turn of the decade? The, eh, checkered overalls with a black base and some neon color on top? Sure you do! They're pretty great, as long as you only have to see them in the dark. In broad daylight, however, they're hideous and reveal a to much of the shape of the body beneath (bellies).

On a few of the publicity shots from that period, someone has decided to attach sunglasses to the faces of the robots. The real Kraftwerk wore the sunglasses to concerts as well, but that's not the point here. Robots with yellow wrap-around Bollé sunglasses, is that a good idea? Well, no. Is it Bono's robot? Or Gunde Svan's? Futuristic, I'm sure...

2. The "Minimum-Maximum" era look

According to one source, Ray-Ban's Wayfarer model's "distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a non-verbal language that hinted at unstable dangerousness, but one nicely tempered by the sturdy arms which, according to the advertising, gave the frames a masculine look."

So, after Tom Cruise in "Risky Business", The Blues Brothers, and Jack Nickolson, there's Ralf Hütter's robot. I admit Wayfarers are kind of cool (again), and I bet Hütter's robot looks better with them, sitting at his desk, than he would without them.

Or, as Don Henley once put it in "The Boys of Summer":

I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got that hair slicked back and
Those Wayfarers on, baby
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone

But still, it's a robot with sunglasses. If a robot needs sunglasses it's not very well designed, is it?


Kraftwerk On The Beach

Dan Curtin was born in Cleveland ,OH, but has relocated to Berlin, Germany. His producing career started in 1992, and has included releases for labels such as Buzz, Peacefrog and Sublime. Curtin also runs a his own Metamorphic Recordings label.

In 2004, the Swiss label Inzec released his vinyl 12" "Shadow Locked EP". This specific record holds a song named "Kraftwerk Am Strand". The music on the record is a fairly relaxed but driving techno-house hybrid, with what I perceive as nods to older times. Certain sounds and tempos makes me think of Giorgio Moroder-era disco, which generally is a good thing.

But on to business. The "Kraftwerk Am Strand" track. This is a slightly softer affair compared to the other three songs on the record. The lead, a rather smooth sinus type sound, might be derived from some Kraftwerk track, but then again it might not be. The song is decent, but just barely. Listen here.

Oh, but there's another reference point to be mentioned, apart from Kraftwerk in general. I'd guess Philip Glass' five hour opera "Einstein on the beach", a repetitive construction designed for the audience to enter and leave whenever they felt like it, has been an inspiration. At least title-wise.

We could also mention Haruki Murakami's brilliant 2002 novel "Kafka on the Shore", but that is probably not related to the Curtin song in any way. Read it.


Kraftwerk of the Mountains

Sasha, international DJ gigolo known for previous collaborations with John Digweed, kicked off his set the other day with the eagerly awaited Hot Chip 11:32 "King of the Mountains" remix of Kraftwerk's "La Forme". And, naturally, it was recorded and is now available right here, on the Internet.

So, for all you curious people: listen to it through the... machine below. It's on right from the start, and goes on for 11 (short) minutes or so.

"King of the Mountains", by the way, is a title given to the best climber in cycling competitions, typically stage races such as Tour de France. More here.


Edit: A couple of minutes of both tracks are now available through Kraftwerks MySpace page. (Yes, they have one!).


Kraftwerk 1971, Live on Radio Bremen

The line-up on this newly released bootleg is said to consist of Florian Schneider, Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, which tells us that this was probably recorded in that short period of time in 1971, estimated to 6 months, when Ralf Hütter had left the band. Supposedly, the recording was made at the Gondel Kino in Bremen, Germany on June 25, 1971. And it's an interesting recording.

The track listing includes something called "Heavy Metal Kids", followed by "Stratovarius", "Ruckzuck", "Vom Himmel Hoch" and "Rueckstoss Gondoliere" (misspelled on the back cover, correct on the CD and in the booklet). It's the "Heavy Metal Kids" track that does it. The title, for starters, is most likely too weird to be the original one. And listening to the song makes you think the music has been created by someone else as well. It 's a bit in style with the first two Kraftwerk records, but still... this is hard rock. We've got metal guitar riffs and guitar solos throughout this sucker... But there's a steady, almost punishing motorik beat keeping pace, to convince you that you've ended up in the right country and in the right area.

The band just keeps on rocking, not only on that "Heavy Metal Kids" track but throughout most of the recorded concert. Stratovarius -rock. Ruckzuck - not rock, but 20 minutes long. Vom Himmel Hoch - rock. Rueckstoss Gondoliere - rock.

"Live on Radio Bremen" gives us an interesting lesson in the wobbliest, rockingest part of early Kraftwerk history.

You could also get the tracks right here, in mp3 format.
01, 02, 03, 04, 05.

(Courtesy of Big0 Worldwide)


Kraftwerk's future live setup

There has been some indications lately that Kraftwerk is moving towards a more futuristic setup than before, at least interface-wise. I'm sure there's more information out there, but let me tell you what I know.

New interface #1, the Tenori-On.

The Tenori-On is an instrument/controller/interface, created by sound artist Toshio Iwai (backed by Yamaha). Mr Iwai is also responsible for the brilliant Electroplankton program for the Nintendo DS. Tenori-On has existed for, if I remember correctly, a few years already, but only as a prototype version. Now, Yamaha seems to be ready for a commercial release of the rather amazing looking product.

We were recently reached by the news that a number of interesting artists, including Mouse On Mars and Atom™, had visited Japan to test drive the machine. And recently, Kraftwerk was added to the list of test pilots.

Here's a video that will tell you everyting you need to know about the Tenori-On.

New interface #2, the JazzMutant Lemur

The Lemur, produced by the french JazzMutant company, is an interesting input device, designed to control real-time computer applications. The multi-point touch screen is said to be completely customisable, allowing users design their own personal control surface. And it looks good, too.

Amongst the "lemurized" artists listed on the JazzMutant web pages, we find our german friends Kraftwerk.

Added together, these two items might lay the foundation for an interesting future of updated Kraftwerk concerts. Maybe, the Tenori-On is the tool they've been looking for to get back to the front of the stage for an old skool performance of "Pocket Calculator"?


Hot Chip to remix Kraftwerk

Electronic party band Hot Chip has remixed the two Kraftwerk tracks "Aerodynamik" and "La Forme" for release in September, according to several official EMI websites.

The four Hot Chip members have divided the heavy work load between themselves. "Aerodynamik (Intelligent Design Mix)" was created by Alex Taylor and Joe Goddard, while Al Doyle and Felix Martin did the King of the Mountains Mix version of "La Forme". The remixes will be available as 12", cd and as digital download.

But what do we think about this, then? Well, cant say that I've heard it yet but I am not completely sold on the idea... I mean, it's been almost three years since "Aerodynamik" and "La Forme" were first released, on the "Tour De France Soundtracks" album. So, really, why now?

On the up side, however, we have this:

Early this spring, DFA Records presented a 12" by Booji Boy High. Obviously some kind of DEVO tribute band, BBH actually consisted of Alex Taylor and Joe Goddard from Hot Chip, disguised as Georgios Panayiotou and Mother Markzbow. Now, that was an interesting idea. And most likely nu rave. Listen here.


Robots ♥ Summer

Pretty nice work, this short video ad for last years Summer of Love festival in the Czech Republic. Kraftwerk in a bumblebee vehicle, flying in over their followers. Jeff. Mills, Tiga, CJ Bolland and Elektrabel being ... pollinated, I assume.


Autobahn vas ein Monster

The cover of this Kraftwerk compilation from 1975 is just pure pleasure. Read that sticker. Read it again. I believe that the wonderful thing was found exclusively on a British edition of the record?


Bootwerk - A Bastard Pop Tribute To Kraftwerk

Wow, this is rather uninteresting.

Mashup Industries proudly presents "BOOTWERK - A Bastard Pop Tribute To Kraftwerk".

Nineteen artists have created Kraftwerk mashups for this mp3 only compilation. Kraftwerk meets Dolly Parton, The Beastie Boys, Genesis, Depeche Mode, Fergie and Robbie Williams.

It's new, it's well conceived and it's free to download, but you don't need it.

Oh, and another small and almost completely unrelated tidbit of information: Swedish techno producer Cari Lekebusch has released three records on the Heroes International label under the alias The Mantis. The second of the three records, "Kool & Deadly", was released in 2005 and features a bootleg Kraftwerk remix/track also called "Bootwerk". Listen here.


New old music from Harmonia

Krautrock supergroup Harmonia was created when Cluster/Kluster members Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius joined forces with ex Kraftwerk member and Neu! founder Michael Rother in 1973. The band released the brilliant albums "Musik von Harmonia" (1974) and "Harmonia de Luxe" (1975). In 1976, they recorded an album with Brian Eno. The album, titled "Tracks and Traces", wasn't released until 1997.

This fall, Groenland Records (Europe) and Water Records (US) will release a so far unreleased 1974 live recording by Harmonia. This is brilliant news, of course. The title will be the rather imaginative "Live 1974". The release date seems to be set to late September. CD and LP. Look out.



Once again, the four Kraftwerk characters appear in Calpurnio's comic strip "El Bueno Del Cuttlas". You will find the original here. And don't forget to look through the archives on that site. Kraftwerk will show up on more than a few places.