album reviews

7", 10", 12" reviews

compilation reviews

remix reviews


Die Roboter Rubato
Piano Interpretations of Kraftwerk Titles
- Judson Kilpatrick

In URB, January 1997.


Label: Comatonse/Mille Plateaux (import)
The title really says it all. In these ten piano solos, Thaemlitz deconstructs and reinterprets the melodies from various Kraftwerk songs, ranging from "Ruckzuck" off their very first album to "Techno Pop" from 1986's "Electric Cafe." As Thaemlitz puts it in his detailed liner notes, "Consistency of tempo and key, trademarks of Kraftwerk's compositions, are often abandoned. Melodies become obscured, warped and inverted, lost then found, only to be lost again. The piano sound itself is digitally processed with intrusive noise and flooding resonance taking the place of Kraftwerk's meticulous clarity of technique." The result is completely antithetical to the original material. Where Kraftwerk built complex compositions by juxtaposing layers of machine-made rhythms and simple synthesizer lines, Thaemlitz creates linear structures, using thunderous runs, tremulous pauses and sharp attacks to set a variety of moods within each piece. And where Kraftwerk utilized the latest sounds their technology could offer to simulate a "computer world," Thaemlitz's technologies recreate the age-old acoustic sound of the instrument most closely identified with human composers. It's not, by any means, dance music, and it's not really "ambient" in the updated use of the term. But it is a rather beautiful experiment, and it's accompanied by some interesting in-depth analyses of Kraftwerk's famously minimalist lyrics and music.