Sunday, 8 February 2015

Kraftwerk "Computer World" (1981)

My fascination with Kraftwerk was reignited after catching a BBC documentary about the group. It covered the bands history and impact on electronic and pop music in extensive detail. Of course I had to seek out a new record to listen to after enjoying "The Man-Machine" and "Trans-Europe Express". "Computer World" or "Computerwelt" as its German recording is called, is the groups eighth album, one that could be considered their last as the pioneers of electronic music given the lukewarm reception of future releases.

The title of the album alone captures the essence of theme and concept this album puts across so boldly, in a typically quirky and eccentric Kraftwerk manor. With the songs "Computer Love" and "Home Computer" predicting a future where computers become an integrated part of our lives, both personal and societal. Kraftwerk, in retrospect, saw a coming change in society and packaged it into an artistic observation and expression. Through their minimalist lyrics, they express a world of connectivity to digital media that leaves us isolated from one another. Its poetic, and true, depending on your interpretation or perspective. The quirky, digital electro sound and theme may not reflect the feel of a future now present, but how their vision sounds "retro" is charming and full of a timeless character.

The aesthetic itself is much softer and rounded than previous records, the buzz saws and sine wave synthesizers are significantly easier on the ears from where technology has improved. The warmer, richer instruments fill more space and disguise the minimalism at work with their lush and gentle tones that play out glorious melodies, one of which from "Computer Love" is their most wondrous, a timeless melody so graceful and innocent, you'll simply never forget it. A chromatically soft pallet doesn't hold the group back from finding a darker tone. "Home Computer" splices in with a dizzying melody picturesque of the deep sea and "Numbers" creates a lifeless computed atmosphere with its vocoded words and shuffling percussion as the computerized vocals count up and down. Its a fantastically progressive and forward thinking album that sees the group execute a visionary theme while further expanding the possibilities for electronic music.

Favorite Songs: Pocket Calculator, Computer World 2, Computer Love
Rating: 8/10