MMS: Kraftwerk - Minimum-Maximum

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26 oct. 2005, 23h23m

With only a couple months to go, already Minimum-Maximum is being hailed as one of the best albums of the year. I'm not surprised. The music of Kraftwerk is definitely more relevant now, and besides Tour de France Soundtracks coming out only two years ago as a comeback, not much of a splash was made by them in the US. Of course, this was before they decided to tour, and now that they're on the label Astralwerks, a live album by the mightiest electro group in the world was just destiny in the works. The setlist is essentially their best work mixed in with highlights from their new album. The tracks themselves are re-tooled from their original sound to fit a dance aesthetic, and their new incarnations are just irresistable. They also pulled a couple tricks to make their first live CD a successful attempt to faithfully expose their live show.

Starting with a classic The Man-Machine and going into Planet of Visions, the 808 State-channeling single released in December 1999 (though more commonly known as Expo 2000), the tour recap goes to new tracks from Tour de France Soundtracks. Kraftwerk play through some of the highlights, and while it's not the most upbeat of the entire live album, it's a definitive statement on how they've kept their sound original to themselves but still exposing a new maturity that the 2003 album exhibited. Tracks like Chrono and vitamins are perfect examples of this. They haven't changed their minimal electro aesthetics, thankfully. Instead, they've created a more dance-worthy album to run with the post-electro crowd, certainly fitting into current trends almost seamlessly.

The real fun of this album, however, is when they break into their set of all their most excellent songs. Autobahn sets it off with its nine-minute edit; still a sparkling track, even live. From there, tracks from Computer World and The Man-Machine make up most of the highlights; the only tracks from Trans-Europe Express being the title track and Metal on Metal from the Budapest performance (or if you are listening to the German edition, then it's the performances from Riga including the track Abzug as a bridge between them). All are "executed" brilliantly in front of an audience. It's an added bonus that the tracks are from different venues from around the world, compiling the best version of each track onto the CDs.

However, depending on what country you're in, you'll be getting a version of the album tailored to your language. In the US, the lyrical tracks like Trans-Europe Express and Radioactivity are sung with their English translation from Budapest and Warsaw, respectively but the German edition, for example, has them from Talinn and Riga. The real treat here is with the track Pocket Calculator from Moscow (or Taschenrechner from Berlin in the German release). The original song is played first with its great bouncy melody. As that song moves out of an elaborated break, it segways from the English (or German) track to the Japanese rendition, Dentaku as performed in Shibuya, Tokyo. Why play the same track twice? Well, they're not the same complete versions, plus the Japanese audience has to be heard in order to be believed. They are a wonderful chorus behind the lyrics, helping the track along just as well, if not better than without them. There's only one other occurance I can immediately bring to mind of an audience actually making a the song(s) *better*, and that's Rush in Rio. Although the segway is rather obvious, the album is that much better because of it.

Some of the re-tooling of tracks shows up quite obviously in their live renditions. Numbers from San Francisco probably exhibits this the best. Though its one of the most notorious in Kraftwerk's catalog, and certainly the most noted track by current DJs and producers, it's not the most dance-worthy track in its original form. The Minimum Maximum tour has a version with the bass literally pumping the speakers to its limits, and the live edition's arrangements are a perfect update. It's my pick for the best track of the album.

Ending the incredible mix are two spotlight tracks, the first is a terrific track from their newest album named Aéro Dynamik as performed in Riga. Afterwards, Music Non Stop brings it to an end, repeating the phrase to a long, slow fade-out without the audience. The constant mix between audience reaction and silence also brings part of the man-machine concept from Kraftwerk's existance into this album. It's refreshing to hear that they're still tagging that concept along even after years of being left to retro bins. It makes Minimum-Maximum stay unified to the rest of the group's impressive work and still implies that there's comfort in the alienation Kraftwerk means to saturate.

This is essential listening to any Kraftwerk fan, or anyone interested in dance music. It's not just the roots of electro getting a fitting "greatest hits" playlist here. It's the sound of a band's triumphant return to public response and getting a safe footing in the realm of the modern dancefloor as well. Even when the sound of electro stops being fresh and relevant again, Kraftwerk will remain one of the most pivotal bands in modern music in the retro bin.
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Electronica

Commentaires

  • KdotJob

    Excellent....That was a great review - for lack of a better word - your entry is that of a true fan. I attended the Copenhagen, Denmark performance in 2004, this was the first time I saw Kraftwerk in concert, and was really impressed that they're such a live act. I really missed my techno it turned out, and it revived my interest in electronica. I love Maximum-Minimum, and it sounds like I should get the German language version as well, I only have the German language version of The Mix. I agree that The Pocket Calculator/Dentaku mix/transission is one of the true highlights.

    22 déc. 2005, 1h37m
  • followingsun

    please!! recommend me similar music to kraftwerk! neither too krautrock nor too electronic! send me a private message.thanks!!!!

    7 jan. 2009, 19h31m
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