- Audio CD (4 Aug 2003)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: EMI Music UK
- ASIN: B0000A4G4N
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,020 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|2. Tour De France (Etape 1)|
|3. Tour De France (Etape 2)|
|4. Tour De France (Etape 3)|
|7. Aero Dynamik|
|9. Elektro Kardiogramm|
|10. La Forme|
|12. Tour De France|
Having inspired house, trance and techno, it seems fair that Kraftwerk should borrow something in return. Commencing with three segueing versions of the title track, Soundtracks opens with a fine 15-minute dose of tranquil minimalist trance before seamlessly gliding through various sonic soundscapes with a metronome-like rhythm. Mellifluous keyboard lines evoke the sense of motion while melodies weave and swirl. "Elektro Kardiogramm" goes as far as containing heartbeat and breathing effects while "Vitamin", the album's peak, could be described as the Pyrenean stage with its deep grooves and dizzying synth hooks. The sound of groundbreakers building bridges, Tour De France Soundtracks may not prove as hugely influential as Kraftwerk's early music, but it is nevertheless a winning return. --Christopher Barrett
Professing their love of the fusion of humans and technology, Kraftwerk took the analogy to its furthest limit with 1983's ''Tour De France''. Here the melding of man and machine in a relentless, repetitive quest for speed seemed to perfectly mirror the sounds that the teutonic technologists had been forging. Metronomic, minimal, clinical and yet possessed of a sweet harmonic beauty that allowed just a tasteful smidgeon of emotion; it seems as if, in the intervening period, the jungen from Dusseldorf, have become fixated to the point of almost obsessive reductionism.
Tour De France Soundtracks is exactly that: a series of musical concept pieces designed to reflect the ultimate European sporting celebration of muscle and titanium. Those expecting any kind of musical progress in the traditional sense will be shocked. This is an album that not only continues exactly where they left off, but almost wilfully refuses to throw anything new into the mix. Lord knows, with the ease with which any spotty teenager can rattle off a Kraftwerk pastiche in their bedrooms these days, it must have taken a huge amount of effort to make an album that sounds this retro. Or maybe the 12 years were spent buying cycling gear instead of new equipment.
Whatever; if you still regard Kraftwerk as the deities that gave the world some of the most delightful and seminal electronica ever (and I do) you will take this record to your hearts. While the initial three versions of the title track pall over 15 minutes, the rest of the album more than makes up for it. ''Vitamin'', ''Chrono'' and ''Aero Dynamik'' are all object lessons in how to construct robotic music with a soul. ''Regeneration'' is quite moving with its swathes of synth strings and ''Elektro Kardiogramm'' (dig the crazy modernist spelling, kids) with its cha-cha rhythm and rousing boys chorus may even be displaying a Germanic sense of humour.
It would be impossible for this album to ever have the same effect that, say, Trans Europe Express did in 1977. Yet who could deny that their hermetically sealed world is still alluring? It just no longer points the way to the future. Ralf, Florian, Fritz and Henning are still the masters of being, well...Kraftwerk. --Chris Jones
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Vitamin is my particular favourite, but every individual track has its merits - the album just requires the proper level of engagement from the listener. It's one of my favourite records to listen to on headphones, because the tonal complexities of the sounds and the full richness of the sonic palette can be properly appreciated in this way.
It's no small achievement for Kraftwerk to still be making such vital music so far on from Autobahn, and the only parallel I can identify is David Bowie.
Too much I hear you say... well possibly not. As you may by now suspect these guys are dedicated "velo-men" who know a bit about how to keep your legs turning, and if you put the whole 11 tracks together and hit the "shuffle" button you'll see why because you've got just about the best possible accompaniment to a serious blast on the pedals. A mesmerically addictive, wholly harmonious sequence of brain etchingly good back-beats & chord sequences that'll keep you cycling, jogging, driving or just chilling out for almost an hour before hitting, as you will, the replay button.... Read more ›
The Tour De France is as much about the blurring of the boundaries between mankind and its machines as it is about endurance or sporting achievement. One set of legs, one set of wheels, no power source except the body and mind of the rider. Formula 1? Pah!
So, it's entirely appropriate that the band who produced Man Machine more than a quarter of a century ago should be so obsessed by this grand sporting event. If the understated hype is to be believed the band sacked two of their long standing members because they didn't want to cycle! Is that why it took so long to produce this album? Was it a really a matter of "sporting differences"?
The music is every bit as vital as their one time swan song Electric Cafe was bland and predictable. The band have remained true to the innovative spirit of adventure that they employed to such startling effect on The Mix. The textures are much lighter though, and there must be a sneaking suspicion that this is as close as we've ever got to Kraftwerk's chill out album.
But go back even further into the mists of time and you'll rediscover a band that knew all about chilling long before it became a social neccessity. The albums before the ground breaking Autobhan were filled with the kinds of sonic tricks that populate TDF Soundtracks. In a way, this is a band that has come home to itself.
It would be unfair to expect any band to produce a truly ground breaking album these days. Those of us who have been around long enough are beginning to realise that everything is circular, and nothing is really new.... Read more ›
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