Kraftwerk - Tour De France Soundtracks

Year of Release: 2003
Label: EMI Records
Catalog Number: 591 710 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:58:00

Could it be that Lance Armstrong listens to energetic music whilst participating in the Tour de France? Could it be that the yellow jersey gets draped around someone's body simply because he moved his legs to the rhythm of a Kraftwerk tune? Having written and released the original Tour de France tune as long ago as 1983, our bizarre German friends have now amassed some extra bits and pieces together, along with some remixes of the original track, which they have bundled as Tour De France Soundtracks. Again accompanied by their minimalistic lyrics, it becomes very clear what a huge impact the band from Düsseldorf has on the current dance scene. Whether it's Daft Punk or Goldfrapp, Pet Shop Boys or Primal Scream, New Order or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Eurythmics or Depeche Mode, Gary Numan or Human League, they all rate Kraftwerk as being one of their major influences.

For most of us however, Kraftwerk mainly was the band that took electronics one step further than the cosmic world offered to us by names such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. Looking back at the few albums the band has now released, the concept mainly remains the same. The band takes a major idea and spreads this over a whole album, interspersed with sparse lyrics spoken through a wide range of vocoders and treated by all kinds of electronics. Whether the subject is the highway as in ?Autobahn? or radio activity as in ?Radio Aktivität," pocket calculators or robots, it always works. Add to this the mystery that surrounds every single band member (interviews are a scarce phenomenon in the Kraftwerk household) and you get a band that enthuses the masses. This time around the band has taken the world famous "Tour de France" as their main subject. It's stunning how the band has once again created a sound that perfectly evokes the sound of the bicycle wheels and chains without sampling the original sounds. Especially in the three different "Étapes" the synths and loops kind of duplicate the speed in the main body of the cyclists. In perfect French they recite several important topics about this sports discipline whilst the music perfectly depicts the atmosphere and tention of the event.

Still heavily tributary to the avant-garde world of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kraftwerk has taken their own "electronic folk music" from euro-disco to house and techno, to synth-pop and electronica. As always the sound is as detailed as it gets and although a lot of words and excerpts are constantly repeated you don't get bored at all. This to me is one of the biggest values of Kraftwerk being that they build and build on repeating themes yet without getting on your nerves. On the contrary, their music is built in such a well balanced fashion that it keeps you interested throughout, interested what will happen next. Kraftwerk often tackles subjects that you would never imagine could sound well when put into music. Take the song "Vitamin" on this new album, which has the band recite a list of various products, whether calcium or iron, magnesium or carbohydrates. Give the same ingredients to any other band and they will hand them over together with a blank mastertape. With a song like "Aéro Dynamik," it also becomes clear that what Kraftwerk offers is an ideal kit full of goodies for the remix fans. There are plenty of possibilities to spice up the rhythm, add bits and pieces, turn some of the sequences around whilst keeping it in the same dancelike spirit. You could indeed turn it into a more commercial sounding song or you can leave it the way it is and marvel at the arty approach. After all didn't they release a track called "Tanzmusik" on their Ralf And Florian album?

Conceived in their very own secluded Kling Klang studios, the sound of the current Kraftwerk is only an updated version of what they recorded on their very first album Tone Float as released in 1970. Released under the name of Organisation this album also contained droney percussive pieces mainly performed on organ, flute and electronic instruments. This time around however the band sounds more like a collective of electronic professors than true musicians, but the way they bundle their electronic genius most certainly results in a unique musical offering. Although we often have to wait long periods of time before a new album sees the light of day, it's always a pleasure to capture their unrivaled experience onto disc and enjoy every breathtaking nanosecond on offer. With "Elektro Kardiogramm" they kind of hark back to the lengthy track "Atem" off their Kraftwerk 2 album, where they also used the sound of amplified breathing to great effect. In the way it's built up here, it contains a Jean-Michel Jarre flavour. Also the final track, "Tour de France," as released way back in 1983 contains Schneider's breathing.

In fact, the entire idea for this album came together in the early eighties when Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider became besotted with their bikes, the same way as they were fanatical about music. They started to study cycling catalogues instead of writing new material. Especially for Ralf the bicycle had become an alternative for the synthesizer. When they recorded the song "Tour de France" in 1983, they incorporated the sound of breathing, bikes switching gears and bike chains to great effect. They planned a whole album based around their favourite theme but lost the concept when they got involved in the Electric Café album instead. This album contains the track "Titanium," important because their bikes are made of titanium! So when the famous Tour de France celebrated its 100th birthday, Kraftwerk thought it would be a good idea to delve into their ideas and work towards a whole album based around the cycling experience and the Tour de France. In 2003 they were granted permission to follow the race from the luxury of a limousine. Pity they didn't include an homage to the great Eddy Merckx. Now that would have been a hit! At the rate they release albums, I think they're already planning a concept album based on the Olympic games in ? 2020. Pity they don't know which city will organize it ? yet!

Prologue (0:31) / Tour De France Etape 1 (4:28) / Tour De France Etape 2 (6:41) / Tour De France Etape 3 (3:56) / Chrono (3:19) / Vitamin (8:09) / Aéro Dynamik (5:05) / Titanium (3:21) / Elektro Kardiogramm (5:16) / La Forme (8:41) / Régéneration (1:16) / Tour De France (5:10)

Ralf Hutter
Florian Schneider
Fritz Hilpert
Henning Schmitz

Kraftwerk 1 (1971)
Highrail (1971)
Kraftwerk 2 (1972)
Ralf and Florian (1973)
Autobahn (1974)
Radio-Aktivitat (Radio-Activity) (1975)
Doppelalbaum (1975)
Exceller 8 (1975)
Pop Lions (1976)
Trans-Europa Express (1977)
Die Mensch Maschine (The Man-Machine) (1978)
Computer Welt (Computer World) (1981)
Electrokinetik (1981)
Electric Cafe [German] (1986)
The Mix (1991)
Arbeiten/Works/Oeuvres (1991)
The Capitol Years (1994)
The Model: Best of Kraftwerk (1994)
Concert Classics (1998)
Vor Uns Metropolis (1998)
The Best of Kraftwerk (1999)
Radio Activity (Australian Tour Edition) (2003)
Trans-Europa Express (Australian Tour Edition) (2003)
Computer World (Australian Tour Edition) (2003)
Man Machine (Australian Tour Edition) (2003)
Tour de France Soundtracks (2003)
Minimum Maximum (2005)
Live (2005)
The Catalogue (2009)

Genre: Electronic

Origin DE

Added: November 16th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 521
Language: english


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