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Kraftwerk sings ‘Pocket Calculator’ in Italian… and several other languages
07.07.2014
06:49 am

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Music

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Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk
 
In this video from Italy’s Rai TV network, Ralf and the boys treat us to an Italian version of “Pocket Calculator,” the first single off of their 1981 album Computer World, if not the most successful single (that would be “Computer Love”).

David Buckley, in Kraftwerk: Publikation, writes of the song:
 

On ‘Pocket Calculator’, Ralf shows how electronica has dispelled all the sweaty guff and ludicrous posturing of the cock rockers because the star of the show isn’t even a real instrument. It’s a battery-powered hand-held abacus which can sound a jingle and is operated not played.

 
Take that, “cock rockers”! Thank goodness Kraftwerk was around to dispel all of that “sweaty guff” going around.
 
Kraftwerk
 
This video dates from 1981, the year the single came out. It appears that Kraftwerk released “Pocket Calculator in five languages—English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese—but not in Italian, so they must have cooked this version up especially for their appearance on Italian TV. In a second video below, someone collected the English, German, French, and Japanese versions as well as this Italian one, leaving the Spanish-language version (”Calculadora De Bolsillo”) out—I haven’t been able to find audio of the Spanish version. The same video includes 1991 reworkings of the English, German, and Japanese versions.

If you’d like to see sheet music so that you can play “Pocket Calculator” on a Casio VL-80 calculator, we’ve got that over here.

Kraftwerk performing “Mini Calcolatore” on Italian TV:
 

 
“Pocket Calculator” in 5 languages:
 

 
Thanks Annie Zaleski!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Kraftwerk songs performed by string quartet
06.19.2014
05:04 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Balanescu


 
In 1992, the international chamber group Balanescu Quartet released a CD called Possessed. It contained three original works by the band’s eponymous leader Alexander Balanescu and a composition by Talking Heads’ artguy-in-chief David Byrne, but that didn’t really matter. Practically all the attention afforded the group was justifiably hogged by the five stunning Kraftwerk covers that led off the album. Per AllMusic:

Alexander Balanescu (b. 11 June 1954, Bucharest, Romania), the son of a university professor, was raised in Romania before his family moved to Israel in 1969. After two years he relocated to London, England, to take up violin studies (he also spent time at the Juillard School of Music in New York). He formed the Balanescu Quartet in 1987, initially joined by Clare Connors (second violin), Bill Hawkes (viola) and Caroline Dale (cello). Having already developed strong working relationships with fellow contemporary composers Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars, the quartet has gone on to perform classical works by John Cage, Kevin Volans, and Robert Moran. They broke new ground in 1992 with Possessed for independent label Mute Records, which featured acoustic transcriptions of five Kraftwerk electronic pieces. This was justified thus: ‘There have been violins for two hundred years, and we’re trying to bring them into harmony with modern compositions.’

 

 
The Balanescu Quartet are still active, with Balanescu himself as the sole constant member. They’ve worked in classical and pop idioms, with artists as diverse as Pet Shop Boys, Philip Glass, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Spiritualized, but even after 22 years, their Kraftwerk interpretations remain major career highlights. However, and disappointingly, Possessed is out of print. Thank the gods everything’s free on the Internet, right?
 

Robots by Balanescu Quartet on Grooveshark

 

Model by Balanescu Quartet on Grooveshark

 

Autobahn by Balanescu Quartet on Grooveshark

 

Computer Love by Balanescu Quartet on Grooveshark

 

Pocket Calculator by Balanescu Quartet on Grooveshark

 


 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Notable Kraftwerk samples in megamix

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Krautrock musical chairs: Kraftwerk minus the Ralf or Neu! plus a lil’ Florian? You decide!
05.13.2014
09:37 am

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Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Organisation

Kraftwerk
 
It’s common knowledge that Kraftwerk and Neu! were both products of the Düsseldorf musical scene, having been united in the early prog band Organisation; eventually Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger would split from Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider to create the two classic Krautrock bands we know today, but there is a fair amount of material featuring Rother, Dinger, and Schneider (no Hütter, who had returned to school to study architecture). A surprising amount of it was captured on German TV between 1970 and 1972.

Kraftwerk is one of those bands that has husbanded its exclusivity awfully well; just ask anyone (like me) who tried and failed to get tickets to their severely limited-attendance run of MoMA shows in 2012. The most design-savvy of Krautrockers, they are prime objects of collector fetishization. Collectors already know about the band’s precursor Organisation, whose 1971 album Tone Float routinely goes for more than $100 on Discogs.com (the CD is a lot more affordable). There’s no shortage of enthusiasts of Kraftwerk’s early, proggy phase, but the majesty of a big chunk of their early work recorded for video or TV should enhance just about anyone’s day.
 
Organisation
 
Bootleg editions of Tone Float often tacked on an extra track that actually was among Kraftwerk’s first works—that’s why when you execute a Google Images search of the Organisation album cover, a good many of the results have both names on the cover. That track, misidentified as “Vor dem blauen Bock” (Before the Blue Goat), is in fact is a groovy instrumental number named “Rückstoss Gondoliere,” which comes from an appearance by Kraftwerk on the Bremen Beat-Club TV show on May 22, 1971. (I’m having a difficult time translating “Rückstoss Gondoliere,” the closest I can come is “recoil gondolier.” I think the word Rückstoss here signifies the backfire of a car—similar to a recoil—but this clip is often translated as “Truckstop Gondolero,” which I must concede is a great title.)

In this instrumental clip, through the use of video magic, “Kraftwerk”—here Rother, Dinger, and Schneider—are frequently framed as if sitting very tightly around a campfire or, if you prefer, a hookah. The music sounds very much of its time—Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” come to mind. In any case, much more that than, say, Gary Numan or somebody. Meanwhile, virtual stalactites and stalagmites swirl around them, and well, don’t bogart the reefer, man.
 

 
Here is Kraftwerk playing “Ruckzuck” live on the WDR television channel in 1970. Dig Florian’s righteous flute jam in this video. The song’s enduring popularity as an early Kraftwerk deep cut is richly justified. The bewildered expressions on the faces of the German Jugend only add to the overall effect.
 

 
Here’s another early version of “Ruckzuck,” only this time the band is Organisation. As a special bonus, Florian is wearing a shirt with his own face on it.
 

 
“Köln II” on the German TV show Okidoki in 1971.
 

 
“Kakteen, Wüste, Sonne,” 1971. Title translates as “Cactus, Desert, Sun.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Ralf And Florian’: The Kraftwerk sitcom
04.07.2014
09:48 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
sitcoms


 
When I think of Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider my mind immediately goes to comedy, right? The techy Teutonic twosome are a barrel of laughs. Like the early-80s American TV sitcom Bosom Buddies crossed with “Sprockets.” 

Just discovered in a Dusseldorf car boot sale is this rare pilot for the uncommissioned Kraftwerk sitcom, “Ralf and Florian.”

Shame it never made it, as Ralf Hutter has great comic timing and could have been the next Alf Garnet.

This is perhaps the funniest unfunniest thing you’ll see today.

Video by YouTuber Braces Tower.

 
Via WFMU

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Newly unearthed footage of Kraftwerk—with long hair and leather jackets! Live 1970
03.26.2014
11:11 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
Rockpalast
NEU


 
All I can say about this is HOLY CRAP. I’ve seen snippets of this, but never the whole show, and in such good condition. Here is the Kraftwerk Rockpalast appearance from 1970, the year the band formed. The lineup here is Florian Schneider (he’s the one playing flute), Ralf Hütter, and drummer Klaus Dinger (RIP 2008), who would soon leave to form NEU! with pianist Michael Rother. This is a Kraftwerk that is often very, very alien to people who mostly know the band from their late ‘70s/early ‘80s incarnation as the teutonically severe/severely teutonic synth pop innovators who affected the personae of robots and mannequins. This was a spiky, angular, experimental, difficult-listening proto-punk music that has very little of the sweetness or wistfulness of something like “Tour De France.” I love how so much of the camera work is devoted to audience reaction.

Here’s some Google-translated info from the WDR website:

In 1970 - its founding year - were Kraftwerk, although already an avant-garde band, their sounds were still exclusively handmade. In songs like “jiffy” or “Stratovarius” they experimented with distorted sounds of flute and Hammond organ. But the monotonous beat and cool arrangements foreshadowed, in which direction their sound would develop only a few years later.

Rockpalast shows for the first time the Soest concert from 1970 in full length at the power plant as a trio (Ralf Hütter - Hammond organ, Klaus Dinger - drums, Florian Schneider-Esleben - Flute) occurred and astonished faces left behind. An absolute rarity then, and a treat for music fans.

 

 
A massive debt of thanks to Chunklet‘s Henry Owings for posting this.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
We aren’t the robots (yet): Early Kraftwerk, live 1973

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
We aren’t the robots (yet): Early Kraftwerk, live 1973
08.20.2013
01:58 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk


 
Although they don’t consider it a “mature” work, or even part of their official canon, Kraftwerk’s third album, 1973’s Ralf und Florian saw the Teutonic duo groping towards their man-machine aesthetic using synthetic rhythms and proto electronic drum pads (patented by Hütter and Schneider). By then, they’d already begun to use a primitive Vocoder and the Minimoog, although most of the keyboard sounds on the album were made with a Farfisa organ. They were still using a lot of flute and guitar at this point, too.

Ralf und Florian has still never been released on CD, but the whole thing is on YouTube:
 

 
On France’s ‘Pop 2’ program in 1973:

 
By the time of the 1973 television appearance below, electronic percussionist Wolfgang Flür had already joined them for live performances, but their signature rhythmically precise sound and dramatic image was yet to come. What’s great about this is actually seeing and hearing them play their instruments. The whole “laptop remix greatest hits shows with lots of dazzling visual spectacle to distract the audience from the fact that we’re not doing anything” thing they’ve been touring with since the 90s really doesn’t hold a candle to the live recordings that were made of them until about 1981.

The thrill for fans found on vintage Kraftwerk bootlegs is hearing them make mistakes! It’s only when measured against their very own flubs that you can judge the truly maniacal quality of their musicianship. What other standard would be possible?
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
They only had eight songs, but they had four neon lights: Wolfgang Flür on Kraftwerk’s first US tour
03.05.2013
06:50 am

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Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Wolfgang Flür

Wolfgang
Flür looking super-foxy in the early days.
 
In this brief, but telling, clip, Wolfgang Flür reveals Kraftwerk’s ingenious method for stalling for time onstage during their first American tour in 1975.

In January, Flür (bluntly) reviewed the “Kraftwerk Mark III” homecoming concert in a Dusseldorf power station:

It’s No More Fun To Compute! (The Quietus)
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Kraftwerk LIVE (no, really, live, not just remixed) in the 70s and 80s
01.30.2013
02:01 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk


 
Next week Kraftwerk will be staging a series of appearances at the Tate Modern in London, a repeat of their MOMA residency in New York last year that saw the band do many of their albums all the way through. Kraftwerk will play eight of their classics over the course of nine days.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these performances will be cool events, but let’s face it, Kraftwerk don’t really play much of anything live anymore and there’s only one of the two main guys left. The visuals are incredible and sure, die roboter, are fun, but without all the flash it would just be four boring German blokes—three of them who could literally be anybody, can you name ‘em?—onstage with Sony laptops.

Do they really play anything live other than “Pocket Calculator”? It didn’t seem that way to me when I saw them at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan in 1998. It was just a “remix” show.

Nevertheless, if you listen to tapes of older Kraftwerk shows, from, say, 1975 when they started trekking around promoting Autobahn to the Computer World tour of 1981, way back when they were more or less an analog band, it’s very interesting indeed. Back then, they had to get it right onstage and the drumming was done on those electronic pad thingees. What makes the live Kraftwerk bootlegs of that period so interesting is hearing them make mistakes.

It’s only because of the mistakes that you can tell what great musicians they really were!

Kraftwerk in Budapest, August 14,1981 (an audience recording, but a really good one):
 

 
Kraftwerk in Amsterdam at The Paradiso, 1976:
 

 
Kraftwerk live at the Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo, on July 9, 1981 (this one is great!)
 

 
Kraftwerk live on French TV, October 1978:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
How to dance to Kraftwerk: All you need to know
01.27.2013
02:41 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk


 
From the Dangerous Minds archives:

Yes, this is how it’s done.

Dancing to Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” on the legendary Detroit cable TV program The New Dance Show.

The only problem with this video is it’s too short. I could have watched this for hours.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Kraftwerk: ‘Kometenmelodie Eins & Zwei’ performed live in Paris, 1976

kraftwerk_under_a_tree
 
Audio of Kraftwerk performing 2 tracks from their album Autobahn, “Kometenmelodie Eins” and “Kometenmelodie Zwei”, as recorded in Paris, 1976.

“Kometenmelodie” (“Comet Melody”) was inspired by the Comet Kohoutek (which proved to be a rather “spectacular dud” as far as comets go), and the track became Kraftwerk’s first single, released in December 1973.

Comet Kohoutek also inspired Sun Ra to perform a special concert for the comet in December 1973, while singer Burl Ives hoped to increase his bank account with the release of his single “The Tail of the Comet Kohoutek” in 1974. But it was Children of God founder David Berg, who received the most column inches when he pronounced Comet Kohoutek as a sign that a Doomsday event would destroy America in January 1974.
 

 
With thanks to John Kowalski
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
How to dance to Kraftwerk: All you need to know
07.11.2012
02:08 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Numbers
The New Dance Show


 
Yes, this is how it’s done.

Dancing to Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” on the legendary Detroit cable TV program The New Dance Show.

The only problem with this video is it’s too short. I could have watched this for hours.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Kraftwerk meets Soviet sci-fi film ‘Teenagers in Space,’ 1974
06.04.2012
11:59 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
Robots
Teenagers in Space


 

 
A whimsical mélange of Kraftwerk’s “Robots” and 70s Soviet sci-fi film Teenagers in Space. According to Coilhouse, the movie is a children’s film “about evil robots.”

That’s pretty much all I need to know to make this a “must see” for me.

If you want to watch Teenagers in Space in its entirety, go here.
 

 
Via Coilhouse

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Fun, Fun, Fun, On The Gramophone: Kraftwerk Release Limited Edition Box Set

kraftwerk_ltd_ed_boxset
 
Ah, the joys of the box-set, the artfully designed collectible that allegedly adds value to your music collection. Of course, sometimes it’s a damn fine thing, especially when it includes lots of unreleased goodies. Or when the set is cheaper than buying the individual discs. Other times, it’s little more than a cunning scam to sell you something you already own.

Last year, Elvis Costello warned his fans off purchasing his box of delights, claiming he was “unable to recommend this lovely item to you, as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire…” The price was $258.70 (£212.99) - ouch. Some bands are undeterred in extracting the cash - how many box sets have U2 released? (Too many?) While others see it as a way of celebrating their oeuvre - last week Blur announced the release of their mega box 21, out on July 31, this year. Yet, often the cost of these box-sets suggests they are really meant for the thirty-plus professional, who can afford to shell out the big bucks on such shiny trinkets.

Which brings me to Kraftwerk, who have announced the release of a limited edition black box set of their 2009 box-set The Catalogue. The main selling point here is it’s a “black box set” and it’s “a limited edition”, limited to “2000 individually numbered copies”. The box includes:

...all 8 remastered and repackaged albums in a 12"x12” box. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of their landmark electronic début, Autobahn, pioneers Kraftwerk re-release the digitally remastered of all of their albums. These include redesigned sleeves and all original titles restored. An absolute must for collectors and anyone with an interest in the electronic music culture. This edition also includes large format booklets and expanded artwork:

Autobahn (1974)
Radio-Activity (1975)
Trans-Europe Express (1977)
The Man Machine (1978)
Computer World (1981)
Techno Pop (1986)
The Mix (1991)
Tour de France (2003)

So, if you’re tempted, then follow the trail here to find out more. Or, maybe you can hang on until the 40th anniversary of Autobahn comes around?
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Read vintage issues of ‘Synapse the Electronic Magazine’ in their entirety


Summer 1978: Read this issue in its entirety here.
 
Holy cow! What a goldmine! Someone wonderful uploaded all the 70s issues of Synapse Magazine for your reading pleasure. Seriously, if you’re an electronic music buff, be prepared to spend days soaking it all up!
 

January/February 1979: Read this issue in its entirety here.
 

Summer 1979: Read this issue in its entirety here.
 
More issues of Synapse Magazine after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Notable Kraftwerk samples in megamix
03.20.2012
10:34 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Kraftwerk
DJ Food


 
Here’s a nice Kraftwerk cover mix by DJ Food which is “The first in a mix series featuring cover versions, sample-heavy tracks or songs that obviously owe a debt to the Dusseldorf quartet. Each mix is laced with spoken word, interviews or info about Kraftwerk, too.”

Tracklist:

01: Michael Bailey - Solid Steel intro
02: Fearless 4 - Rockin’ It
03: Pelding - It’s More Fun to Compute
04: Trouble Funk - Trouble Funk Express
05: Makoto Inoue - Europe Endless / Neon lights
06: The Divine Comedy - Radioactivity
07: Senor Coconut - Trans Europe Express
08: Senor Coconut - The Man Machine
09: Souxsie & the Banshees - Hall Of Mirrors
10: Senor Coconut - The Robots
11: Balanescu Quartet -The Robots
12: Tafkafb - Waltz Mit Der Robot
13: Apoptygma Berzerk - Ohm Sweet Ohm
14: Frenchbloke & Son - Neon Love (Cha Cha Cha)
15: Jason Moran - Planet Rock
16: Tremelo Beer Gut - Das Model
17: Big Black - The Model
18: Rammstein - Das Model
19: Ride - The Model
20: Frenchbloke & Son - Sexy Model
21: Buffalo Daughter - Autobahn
22: Dark Side of the Autobahn
23: Rot Front Trikont - The Robots
24: Senor Coconut - Showroom Dummies
25: Girls On Top - I Want To Dance With Numbers
26: Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force - Planet Rock (Elecktric Music Classic Mix)
27: Coptic Rain -The Robots
28: Erasure - Blue Savannah (Der Deutsche mix)
29: DMX Krew - Showroom Dummies
30: Melt Banana - Showroom Dummies
31: Aqua Vista - The Model
32: Senor Coconut - Home Computer
33: Senor Coconut - Tour De France
34: Elakelaiset Poro - Reindeer/Robots

 
Via Nerdcore
 
More megamixes after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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