Friday, 5 August 2011

Elegance and Decadence

Things are much the same as last week. The days are beginning to blend into one another, much like the buildings and the sky in this city which are both the shame shade of depressing grey. There are some events that stuck out though. A hundred metres or so away from where I am typing, a seagull was trapped on a roof yesterday, stuck in some wire. Normally this wouldn't really be noteworthy, but the fact that someone grew concerned about the bird, and the fact that two fire engines were summoned to remove the avian from the roof was a little ridiculous. Some Mormons also approached me after going for a booze run, and they gave me a free Mormon bible. Now I like to think of myself as open minded, so I promised them I'd read a passage. They even wrote down their number and used it to bookmark the chapter they wanted me to read. Then Kim, my flatmate and primary lasagne maker approached me.
"Can I rip this up for my art project?"
I hesitated for a second. But then I realised the truth - I'd never bother reading it. So I told her to go ahead. God can wait, there are more important things at stake. Like getting an A. Or lasagne.

Yes, they do look like a bunch of child molesting accountants.
Today I'm going to talk about one of my favourite groups, and specifically, my favourite album by them which nestles comfortably in my top 5. If you've listened to any kind of electronic music, then technically you've listened to Kraftwerk. Their melodies, bleeps and bops can be heard in Depeche Mode, Daft Punk and New Order. In fact, you can probably blame them for the vast majority of electronic and dance music today, which may or may not be worth boasting about. Their popularity arguably started with the hit from the album of the same name, Autobahn which reached #11 in the UK charts in 1975. The four Germans in matching attire went on to create 4 more highly influential albums, one of which is Trans-Europe Express. The album opens with the upbeat Europe Endless, the melody of which was inspired by the sounds a train makes. It also gives us the haunting number 'The Hall of Mirrors' which starts off with a cascading series of chirps, and gives way to a an echoing drum beat and a dark synth bass line which still gives me goosebumps. Their deadpan delivery of "even the greatest stars discover themselves in the looking glass" should be laughable. But the tale of a celebrity who falls in love with his face and then continues to change and rework it feels eerily familiar. Not taking themselves too seriously however, the track 'showroom dummies' opens with a 'eins zwei drei vier', a parody of the Ramones countdown. The lyrics are based on a review of Kraftwerk's live show which described the band as 'barely moving showroom dummies'. The track 'Metal on Metal' has been sampled many times, most notably Afrika Bambaata's song 'Classic Rock'. 'Franz Schubert' and 'Endless Endless' drive the Express to a gradual close, ending one of my favourite albums.

Trans-Europe Express simultaneously sounds modern and retro, and perfectly captures Kraftwerk as they were sifting from a progressive and experimental sound to one more bouncy and minimalistic. It is completely timeless; it doesn't sound like it was made in the noughties, the nineties, the eighties, and definitely not 1977, its original release date. I highly recommend it, but please don't listen expecting catchy chorus filled pop, it's not quite that.

The librarian is harassing me to get off the computer. I could finish this at home but I want to challenge myself. Time to get an image and think of a witty caption

What I'm currently listening to > \Please get off the computer - The librarian/

Thanks for reading!


  1. never has there been such a dichotomy between a group's look and sound

  2. Kraftwerk is one of my long time favorites. Gotta love them. :)

  3. Please get off the computer - by the librarian? I've heard that song too! I've also heard the Read this book - by the bible thumpers!

  4. I'm a fan of Kraftwerk as well. Good German music can be hard to find. Just ask David Hasselhoff(sp?). Which is interesting, because I've been listening to Tokio Hotel all night. I don't understand pretty much anything they're saying, but the German half of me still loves it.

    P.S. Screw the librarian.

  5. I must admit that I never got much beyond "Tour de France" more of a guitars and proper drums type person. Keyboards and drum machines just don't cut the mustard live...

    This is coming from someone who the only musical instrument they can play is an MP3 player, although I have been known to trip the light fantastic on the old air drums….

  6. The summoned firemen to get a seagull out?

    Tax dollars hard at work.

  7. I feel like such a disgrace because I've never heard of any of the singers you mentioned. :/

    I shall redeem myself by Googling the librarian. Followed. (:

  8. WEIRD. I HAVE followed you and I didn't know that. Interesting, because I don't remember seeing your posts on my feed, although I guess I haven't been online very frequently so I probably missed yours.

    ...That was incoherent and I apologize.