Rolling back musical barriers with every forward-thinking phase of their career, Dusseldorf's Zen masters of electronic minimalism laid the foundations for four decades of computerised pop and dance music. By chain reaction and mutation, they have influenced generations of artists in all genres, mapping musical futures yet to come. From Bowie to Daft Punk, Aphex Twin to Portishead, Dr Dre to LCD Soundsystem, and almost everyone in between, the mark of Kraftwerk is endless, endless.
In 2009 Kraftwerk have upgraded their Kling Klang masters with the latest studio technology and these eight magnificent recordings still sound like nothing else in the history of music. Kraftwerk are unique, pristine, profound and beautiful. Decades may pass, but their streamlined synthetic symphonies stand outside time, as fresh as tomorrow, transcendent and sublime.
12345678 The Catalogue will be released across the following formats:
* CD Boxset containing 8 x CDs in 'mini-vinyl' card wallet packaging, plus individual large format booklets.
Due to licensing restrictions in the U.S., only five of the eight albums will be released as separate CD editions: Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans Europe Express, The Man Machine and Tour De France (2003). As a result, the only way for fans to own the entire catalogue on CD is to purchase the Box Set.
* 5 x individual CDs in special O-card slipcases featuring newly expanded artwork, including many previously unseen images, all of which have been reproduced to the highest technical standards
* 5 x individual heavyweight vinyl LPs with large format booklets
* Digital downloads
12345678 THE CATALOGUE
With its iconic Emil Schult sleeve, Kraftwerk release their international breakthrough album. The symphonic title track, an epic ode to the joys of motorway travel, wraps a mesmerising motorik rhythm around a sampled collage of car horns, engine noise, whirring tyres and radio crackle. In edited form, it becomes a revolutionary hit single around the world.
Elsewhere, in wordless industrial folk music, the band reveal both their light and dark sides – 'Mitternacht' is all creeping midnight shadows, while 'Morgenspaziergang' is fresh with morning dew and birdsong. Two versions of 'Kometenmelodie', one a starkly gothic prowl, the other a sunny electro boogie, provide further instrumental sound paintings. Pure and strong and bold, Kraftwerk compose cinema for the ears. The pop world falls in love with them.
Kraftwerk embrace the atomic age with mixed emotions. Surfing on sine waves, scanning the stratosphere for stray radio signals, they plug themselves into a buzzing grid of energy and communication. From the stately eco-angst anthem 'Radioactivity' to the synthetic Gregorian chants of 'Radio Stars' and the melancholy machine processional of 'Ohm Sweet Ohm', a sombre but engrossing monumentalism dominates.
With heavily processed vocals in both German and English, Kraftwerk go global with depth and majesty. If factories and power stations are the new cathedrals, they write liturgies for a new industrial epoch.
TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS (1977)
Kraftwerk celebrate Europe's romantic past and shimmering future with a glistening panorama of elegance and decadence, travel and technology. The infinite vistas of 'Europe Endless' and 'Endless Endless' bookend the album, which includes the unsettling Kafka-esque fable 'The Hall Of Mirrors' and the hilarious 'Showroom Dummies' - Kraftwerk's elegantly ironic reply to critiques of their deadpan manner.
But it is the streamlined rhythmic locomotive of 'Trans Europe Express' which dominates with its doppler-effect melodic swerves and hypnotic, pneumatic, piston-pumping rhythm. Along with its sister track, 'Metal On Metal' which New York DJ Afrika Bambaataa would re-construct five years later for his own seminal 'Planet Rock', this milestone in avant-pop modernism later becomes a crucial influence on the early pioneers of hip-hop & sampling, electro and industrial music. Poetry in motion.
THE MAN MACHINE (1978)
A bold new look, sound and concept for Kraftwerk. Over supple processed rhythms which predate the rise of European techno and trance, they address automation and alienation, space travel and engineering, the seductive allure of urban landscapes and the vacant glamour of celebrity. Clipped and funky, 'The Robots' adds another dimension to Kraftwerk's ultra-dry sense of humour. Behind its intoxicating melodic pulse, 'The Model' is a highly prophetic satire on the beauty industry, so ahead of its time that it only becomes a UK chart-topper by accident three years later. And 'Neon Lights' is Kraftwerk's most achingly romantic song to date, a sci-fi lullaby for cities at twilight. Pure magic.
COMPUTER WORLD (1981)
Kraftwerk beam themselves into the future by writing about home computers, online dating and globalised electronic surveillance years before these phenomena truly come into being. A journey into the bright hopes and dark fears of the booming microchip revolution, 'Computer World' is a serenely beautiful and almost seamless collage of sensual melodies and liquid beatscapes. Tracks like 'Numbers' and 'Pocket Calculator', with their weightless bleeps and elastic beats, predict the silky rhythms of Chicago house and inspire a generation of Detroit techno artists. Kraftwerk's fanfare for the silicon age still sounds ageless, timeless and throbbing with invention.
TECHNO POP (1986)
Kraftwerk return from five years of silence to reclaim their throne as leaders of a machine-pop revolution that they themselves began over a decade before. Their 'Techno Pop' album, first released under the name 'Electric Café' but now restored to its originally intended title, provides a 360-degree overview of a multi-lingual, multi-channel, musically diverse global village.
From the block-rocking beats of 'Boing Boom Tschack' to the electronic funk and computer animation of 'Musique Non Stop', Kraftwerk soar into the digital age. Their first excursion into digital recording finds both beauty and unease in a polyglot world of permanent media overload. Once again, Dusseldorf's test pilots of the musical future effortlessly break new ground.
THE MIX (1991)
Kraftwerk's first fully digital album confirmed their clubland credentials and reworked 11 of their best-loved tunes for a new generation. Painstakingly reconstructed and sequenced in the band's Kling Klang studio, new versions of tracks like 'The Robots', 'Trans Europe Express' and 'Home Computer' now feature more funky rhythms and cleaned-up, liquid-crystal sounds. A stark warning about pollution at Sellafield is added to the glistening overhaul of 'Radioactivity', sparking a war of words with British Nuclear Fuels. But most of all, 'The Mix' is a career-spanning collection of legendary electro anthems and a classy acknowledgment of the two-way traffic between Kraftwerk and club culture.
TOUR DE FRANCE (2003)
The year 2003 marked the centenary of the Tour de France, the conceptual starting line for Kraftwerk's first album for over a decade. Although it features an immaculate new version of a 20-year-old former single, the exquisitely graceful 'Tour de France', pop nostalgia is not on the menu. From the chunky cyber-funk of 'Vitamin' to the restless metallic shimmers of 'Aéro Dynamik', this is emphatically the sound of 21st century techno visionaries.
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