Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's More Fun to Compute

Last week's Kraftwerk show was unbelievable. My first exposure to Kraftwerk was seeing them last summer at 4 in the morning in Benicassim. Sitting on the first mezzanine made it easier to enjoy the show for what it was, rather than just trying to survive it at the Both halves of One Louder had plenty of accurate things to say about it, as did Peephole (what she says about the equal parts style/substance and humor/seriousness, is very true). Jon Pareles of NYT, not content with merely standing up to the Coldplay juggernaut this week, offered an ill-informed write-up of the show. Part of the charm of Kraftwerk is that it can only be seen as the sum of the parts - the parts are irrelevant. The mystique around them is all encompassing, and that goes for how the music is produced and who produces it. To assume any part of the music is pre-recorded show sounds like the NYT sent a curmudgeonly rocker who has never been to a live electronic show to review it - pobre.

The other night, basking in the glow of having witnessed Pedro's 2-hitter in person, I bought a bunch of CDs at Virign, including Minimum-Maximum, the live Kraftwerk album that was released on Tuesday. Recorded all over the world during their 2004 tour, the setlist and the arrangements of the songs are very similar to the show last week - an incredibly timed souvineer that perfectly captures the overwhelming audio/visual experiences of seeing Kraftwerk (although sadly it doesn't have the prestine visuals - see Jason's great photos). Many of their older songs have been remade with far more modern sounds - the sheen on the melodies are closer to contemporary trance than they are to 70s/80s synths. Because the album is such an accurate rendering of the live show, the highlights of the show at Hammerstein are similar to the album's high points - pretty much everything - but most specifically "Neon Lights" (my personal favorite Kraftwerk track - was gleeful when they played it), the Tour de France suite (although on the album it is sequenced slightly differently, with "Tour de France" coming after "Vitamin"), "Pocket Calculator" (perhaps the biggest beneficiary of a modern revamping - the excellent main melody is even more fine tuned ), and "Aero Dynamik."

Pitchfork's review of Minimum-Maximum is pretty on point.


At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful invention it is, this thing we call the Internet!


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