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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A seriously addictive work-out...
Innovators from the far left out-field who've managed to keep up there with the best for 30 years, Kraftwerk are a unique and often bizarre proposition. And here's another example why... take a fairly odd idea - "musical to cycle to" - put it through 11 iterations, stand back and see what happens. First off is their 1983 "Tour de France (CD Single)" featuring three...
Published on 17 Aug 2005 by nicjaytee

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Grower
I've resisted writing a review of this for a couple of months to see what repeated listening achieved. I wasn't greatly impressed on first listening, it seemed an album based around variations on a 10 year old single which didn't really inspire great hope for a masterpiece.
A couple of months on I can confirm it's not a masterpiece but it is strangely addictive and...
Published on 31 Dec 2003 by Christopher Hunter


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A seriously addictive work-out..., 17 Aug 2005
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This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
Innovators from the far left out-field who've managed to keep up there with the best for 30 years, Kraftwerk are a unique and often bizarre proposition. And here's another example why... take a fairly odd idea - "musical to cycle to" - put it through 11 iterations, stand back and see what happens. First off is their 1983 "Tour de France (CD Single)" featuring three excellent interpretations of their ridiculously catchy original tune, including some quite wonderfully integrated sound bytes of heavy breathing a buzzing derailleur gears. Then 20 years later there's this, their "Tour de France Soundtracks" album with its superb first three tracks (Tour de France Etapes 1, 2 & 3) which while some way away from their predecessors pick up on several of their chord sequences to become perfectly complementary, equally irresistible extensions of them, followed by it's final track, titled - yes you've guessed it - "Tour de France", that's a further excellent reworking of the original concept. And then, if that's not enough, mix it all up even more with their "Tour de France 03 (CD Single)" featuring four more, subtly different, versions of the first three tracks from the "Soundtracks" album.
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. And if you're not convinced, buy any one of these superb records for starters and then see if you can resist getting the rest.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allez Kraftwerk, 6 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
It's a great record. The three etapes of the title track are incredibly complex and only repetitive in the right sense - each second of that sequence is unique as the sounds morph throughout.
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprised, 18 Aug 2003
By 
Kevin Schumm "mmuhcsnivek" (Banning, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
When I heard that Kraftwerk was releasing their first album in 17 years I felt almost obligated to buy it. The band has meant so much to me through the years. I expected that I would like this album. I did not expect to love it. I can honestly say that this is the best new album I have heard in several years. I cannot stop listening to it. Does Kraftwerk re-invent electronic music with this album? Probably not. Did Kraftwerk mean to re-invent electronic music with this album? Definitely not. Kraftwerk is Kraftwerk. They do what they do and they do it to perfection.
Only Kraftwerk can hold my attention for 20 minutes with one song (track 1-5 are in reality one song in 5 parts/ like Autobahn with track breaks)… and leave me wanting more. Every song is genius. Vitamin, Aero Dynamik, Elektro Kardiogramm, etc… incredible. I can't get enough.
If you "get" Kraftwerk (the concept of who and what they are) then you will love this album.
-Kevin Schumm
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ABCD Vitamin, 14 Aug 2003
By 
Peri Urban "periurban" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
Kraftwerk continue their man/machine explorations with an album that really puts you in the heart of the peloton.
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"?
Whatever...
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. Kraftwerk recognise this, and they have finally realised that you don't have to be innovative or provocative to be excellent.
Expect to hear samples popping up all over the place
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome return of the true pioneers, 18 Aug 2003
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
Forget the anodyne rubbish currently clogging up the charts (Coldplay, Bedingfield et al), and take some time out to listen to the return of some true innovators. TdF Soundtracks marks their first original release since 86, bar the Expo 2000 work. And, glad to say, it doesn't disappoint on any level. Takes a couple of spins to worm its way into your mind, but once in there, it refuses to come out. Hopefully this presages the return of the Germanic titans to the scene that they created.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars �Sprint final à l'arrivée� Tour De France.................., 10 Sep 2003
By 
Eli (North East England - The UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
****************************************************************
There is [and undoubtedly will continue to be] a fair degree of criticism of this album.
It has been deemed to be too 'repetitive', 'dull' and 'boring'.
Such broad, sweeping charges should cause us to cast a more discerning and critical
eye on both this and other Kraftwerk projects. Take for example, 'Trans Europa Express'
[the German version]. On that album there are 3 sequential variations of the title track;
and the last track offers a brief variation or 'reprise' of the first. Again, two tracks on one
of the most influential concept albums of all time are variants on a singular theme -
'Computer World' and 'Computerworld 2'. Are you aware that of the 7 tracks, 5 of them
have the word 'Computer' as part of their respective title? But this fact does nothing to
demote the undisputed important landmark classic status of the whole.
If you look and listen hard enough then you will also discover that these conceptual
developmental themes are not uncommon in the classical music world either. So it
should come as no great surprise to find two classically trained musicians namely -
Ralph Hutter and Florian Schneider - composing alternate and similar formations of
musical scores. Therefore, TDF soundtracks contains character traits in common with
the aforementioned titles, because although thematically and musically some of the tracks
appear the same, there are in them some notable differences in both sound and musical
arrangements.
To cast off TDF Soundtracks as dull, repetitive and boring after one or two hearings is a
very valid but equally unfair critical misunderstanding of what I consider to be great originality.
The album attempts to convey to us the overall grandeur and excitement associated with
participating in the Tour De France. There is also a sense in which the length, variation
and merging of the tracks [especially 2-5] actually serves to convey both the overall fluidity
of the race, and the huge distances and challenges that each participating cyclist must endure
throughout.
From the outset, the TDF Soundtracks 2003 takes us to the starting line of this famous
cycling competition. The 'prologue' is if you like, an opening push into the start of the race.
And if you have ever ridden a bicycle, then maybe you will appreciate the gradual transition
from a stationary position to a smooth progression of pace as you work through the lower gears.
Imagine as you listen through the TDF variations, the enthusiastic exhilaration of peddling along roads,
around mountains, through villages and countryside; speeding up; slowing down; controlled breathing.
Consider the physical exertion associated with a hill climb - and as a result both feeling and hearing the
heartbeat pounding in your mouth; sweating, dehydrating and drinking juice from a bottle. Consider
the joy, the pain - the competitive strain; the freedom! It actually works very well, even more so for the
initiated.
There are a few hidden, distant musical shades of 'Computer World' and other works throughout
the whole adventure, and although sometimes very subtle they are well worth listening out for.
There is a clever, genial simplicity in many of the lyrical scores - which certainly only Kraftwerk could
produce - alongside some truly refreshing musical brilliance. 'Vitamin' and 'Aero Dynamik' are beautifully
crafted, and their meaning and connection to the main theme should be plain, even to a glancing non-participant.
The heart beating introduction and overall rhythm in 'Elektro kardiogramm' is quite simply and truly breathtaking.
'La Forme' opens with a quiet solo rhythmic beat which bursts into a bright electronic crescendo of sound, almost
as if you can see beyond the pain barriers and gruelling excercises of the event, towards the finishing line ahead in
the distance. "Nearly there; I've almost made it; the yellow shirt is mine for the taking!"
And what more fitting end, what better and more logically brisk way to complete the 'Tour De France' than with
the words "Sprint final à l'arrivée" from an invigorating new, soft and subtle variant of the original title song?
This is a very special 12th track for fans who in a sense have waited, not '13' nor even '17' years for the new
album [as some say], but about 20 years. For in my humble opinion, with this crowning glory, 'Techno Pop'
has finally arrived. For just as 'Tour De France' is a track that would have been on the album that never was;
so also like a great consolation, Tour De France Soundtracks is the finest follow-up concept album that Kraftwerk
SHOULD have released after Computer World.
Put aside for a moment if you will, the negative criticism and enjoy the race -
From 'Start' to 'Finish' TDF Soundtracks is a 'breath of fresh air' for cyclists and non-cyclists alike!
And jolly well worth the long wait!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kraftwerk Reborn, 10 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
In pop music terms this is a momentous release: after so many years of renovating and recycling their old material, Kraftwerk finally release new material. Of course it can't live up to expectations, but it's really much better than we dared hope. Saddling new tracks to re-upholstered versions of Tour de France somehow seems perfectly apt; the old Kraftwerk conceit of "man and machine" has a beautifully resonant image in cycling. The album gets better with each listen, a good sign. If you want to hear some techno that sounds timeless yet now, get this.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kraftwerk leave the bike shop at last, 5 Aug 2003
By 
A. Sircom (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
Tour De France Soundtracks is technically the first new Kraftwerk album since 1986 and has a lot to live up to. Earlier albums like Authobahn, Trans Europe Express, The Man Machine and Computer World are still profoundly influential musical templates.
The new CD is distinctly Kraftwerk; the same themes, the same starkness, and even the same sense of playing with the music. Listen carefully and you can hear rhythmic ideas in Vitamin that permeate Pocket Calculator from 1981 and Robots from 1978. But it's also Kraftwerk for a new generation - more ambient, more trance-y and less full of the quirky bleeps of tracks like Numbers. It also has that unique 'travelogue' sound perfected in Autobahn and Trans-Europe Express; you feel as if you are actually racing in the Tour De France. Nothing can out-do Trans-Europe Express's Metal on Metal (which gives you such a strong sense of train travel you can almost smell the congealed cheese sarnies of the buffet car whenever you listen to it), but this gets extremely close, especially Chrono which is essentially a time-trial on disc. The pace and the pitch accelerate and decelerate like a pack of cyclists vying for a Yellow Jersey.
TDF Soundtracks is an beautiful, majestically-precise album that gets close to perfection (so it should after 17 years) and the inclusion of the original Tour De France at the end of the CD shows just how far Kraftwerk has moved on. This will doubtless inspire another generation of music makers; but not to the same extent as Computer World, which influenced the influential.
And that's it's only problem; how does Kraftwerk differentiate itself from those inspired by Kraftwerk? Tracks Like Titanium and La Forme would sit comfortably in an Orbital CD (albeit with a tighter rhythm than Orbital can ever produce), so does that mean Orbital are influenced by Kraftwerk or the other way round? Ultimately, though, that doesn't detract from TDF Soundtracks. Think of it like a 'best of' of every ambient, techno and trance recording of the past - and next - decade. It's all here, just waiting for someone to sample, copy, parody or clone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Return Of The Robots, 16 Aug 2003
By 
Psi Powers (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
Kraftwerk started recording in 1970 and to expect this seminal band to produce (after a long absence), a decent album would normally be considered optimistic.
After all, most bands are done and dead after such a period of time.
But what's this then? A brilliant recording by our friends in Dusseldorf?
Why yes. This really is a terrific CD. There is an amazing sense of humour that runs deep through this album which rightly celebrates the extraordinary race that is the Tour De France.
Standout tracks include the wonderful 'Vitamin' which not only has a fine slinky vibe but an equally slinky chorus.
All together now: "Carbohydrate, Protein, ABCD Vitamin!"
If you are a fan of electronic music then this is the one to buy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brief review of 2003's best album, 14 Feb 2004
By 
M. C. Young "mutantmoments" (Cumbria) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Tour De France (Audio CD)
Certain reviewers, journalists and the presenter of the "critical list" you obviously haven't even listened to this album.....
It shimmers with an organic rhythm rarely found in electronic music these days, it has an almost ethereal quality. Maybe you need to be a cyclist to "GET IT", either way listen to it as an idea that has become reality, who else could have the vision to devote an entire album to the ambience and rhythm of cycling.
Its still a Kraftwerk album and sounds like no-one else, what were people expecting...a carbon copy of trans-europe-express...
I just hope we don't have to wait this long for the next album.
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Tour De France
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