Kraftwerk was initially part of the hippie-era krautrock boom. However, this pioneering German electro-pop group soon set themselves apart from their long-haired contemporaries by forsaking acid-soaked jams for a clean, precise sound whose mechanical aspects were part of its charm. Their catchy, simple synthesizer melodies were a key influence on subsequent generations of electronic musicians. They can be seen as the fathers of both '80s synth-pop and '90s electronica.
English Language Version. When Kraftwerk released Computer World on an unsuspecting public back in 1981, the thought of Electronic music and computers taking over seemed like a farce. Now, a quarter of a century later, Kraftwerk''s musical vision has come true tenfold and many Electronic bands cite them as their main influence. This classic slice of Kraftwerk''s musical tapestry is an astounding album filled with bleeps, blips, beats and a huge dose of melody that inspired thousands of musicians and fans to go forth and multiply (literally). Tracks like ''Computer Love'', ''Computer World'' and ''It''s More Fun To Compute'' have been sampled by artists from all genres, especially Rap and R&B. The hit single ''Pocket Calculator'' may seem like ancient material, lyrically, but most of the world now operate their own iPods, Blackberries, cell phones, etc. so the meaning is not lost. Even the ominous ''Numbers'' still sound slightly creepy after all these years. So, what have we learned from Kraftwerk? Everything.
This is the album pundits like to point to when they accuse Kraftwerk of being digital-age visionaries; an all-too-easy assessment to make in the face of tracks such as "Home Computer" and "Computer Love" (not an ode to one-hand typing!). But to saddle the band with the reputation of sages is to completely miss the low-key wit and all-too-human playfulness of this album. "Pocket Calculator" and "Numbers" (the lyrics: numbers one to eight--period) could be read as tongue-in-cheek ripostes to too much bad "educational" programming, but that would smack of creeping punditry. Computer World is Kraftwerk''s most lovable bundle of contradictions: at once its most technologically obsessed album and its most human. --Jerry McCulley
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