"Krafty Moves " (Album, 2001)
A double CD tribute to Dusseldorf's finest robotniks with an eclectic selection of electronic music artists delivering the homage. (Although the front cover is entitled Krafty Move everywhere else it appears as the plural Krafty Moves.) Axiome open this 28-track compilation with a superb, contemporary rendition of Geiger Counter, distorting with noise is a bold way to start. In stark contrast is Welle: Erdball's very poppy, German-language Der Telephon Anruf. It's a bit too twee but the melody keeps you hanging on. Tragic Comedy's lightweight take on Autobahn strips all the power and drive from the original and replaces it with happy additional melodies and vocal harmonies. Trylock's clever version of Radioactivity even attaches new lead lines that manage to add to Kraftwerk's original composition, coming across as a fresh, individual version rather than a poor imitation. Thee Hyphen go for Showroom Dummies but add too many effects to the re-recorded vocals that merely distract. Fewer vocals to let the fine music come through would have improved it. Black Wedding's Krautpop Taschenrechner (Pocket Calculator), brings little new to the table, but at least the heavily affected vocals work better here than on Thee Hyphen's before it.
XCR take on The Man Machine and emerge from the shadows with a good idea stretched beyond its means. Still, the new bleep bass lines do give it an individual, if somewhat repetitive, style. Psyche avoid temptation and keep Antenna at pretty much the same speed. It also features some of the best re-recorded vocals on the entire album. One of the few times you don't wish to hear the original. !Aiboforcen< give us an imaginative re-engineering of Numbers, Ionic Vision a dreadful Tour de Force, whilst P.O.D.'s dark, metal stomping version of Die Roboter (sung in English) would be okay at 3.30 minutes but not at 6.50. Laura Effect really dig out the dance groove of Computer Love although the lead line synth is a bit weak. Fading Colours' Metal on Metal actually uses more of Trans Europe Express - the female vocals add a nice touch. Data Bank A's Radioactivity takes the anti-radioactivity route and adds "It's in the air to kill you and me". It lacks the energy and guts of Trylock's version but does deliver a bouncy, oscillating bass synth groove throughout. Xingu Hill's out of body, otherworldly Electric Cafe is carried on the drifting wind of ambient synth pads and a great end to CD1.
Apoptygma Berzerk get CD2 off to a gentle start with a suitably sedate version of Ohm Sweet Ohm (another personal favourite), while the second version of Showroom Dummies provides Leaether Strip with source material that both in subject matter and in execution has a dark side. Cradle of Spoil decided to shove in too many fussy extras to Computerliebe complete with out-of-time hookline and OTT vocals - a mishmash botch job. Fiction 8 get their Speak and Spell to spell out R-A-D-I-O-A-C-T-V-I-T-Y as the introduction to this third and final entry for this Kraftwerk classic. It remains faithful in spirit to the 1975 album version with morose vocals and bass lines - almost as if Joy Division had covered it. Musik Non Stop gets a make over courtesy of Pierrepoint. Theirs is a chilled-out dance track with additional and effective tunes, mixing in elements of Boing, Boom, Tschak for good measure. Index's interpretation of the classic The Model is a slightly surreal diversion that manages to do justice to the original and yet clearly marks itself out as Index.
Mental Conquest have produced a cover of Spacelab which, apart from the vocal and some beefed-up drums, remains very close to the Kraftwerk original. The Shining give us a bubbly The Telephone Call that concentrates on the melody and rhythm. Inertia's ridiculously long (9.10) Tour de Force removes all the grace from the original, replaces it instead with a typical four-to-the floor beat and cheap percussion that doesn't even work as an instrumental floor filler - it lacks any kind of soul - something the original had in spades. I was reminded of Rammstein's cover (that featured on the excellent Trans Slovenian Express Kraftwerk covers album) when listening to Nigra Nebula's Das Model. It's something of a macabre mess but the lead synths at least sound satisfying. The bombastic industrial of Battery's Uranium is a heavy duty mission that should have them stomping on club dance floors wherever it gets played. A nice, machine-gun drum pattern too.
Limbo go seriously Russian on us when they deliver their Trans Europe Express (or 'Excess', 'Regress', 'Progress' as they choose to apply it depending on the chorus). It is left to Imminent Starvation to bring our epic journey to a close. They have chosen to go back to Kraftwerk 2 for a punishingly beautiful power noise view of Tanzmusik. This has the extreme contrast of a simple, single note melody line and pummelling, distorted drums. The perfect yin to Axiome's yang on the opening track on CD1. A great way to finish what is a very interesting compilation. I can't help wonder if some of the artists should have been more ambitious or imaginative with their interpretations, but as far as Kraftwerk 'tribute' albums go this is one of the better ones out there. 7/10
Cracking the Code: Tribute to Kraftwerk