- Audio CD (Sept. 9 2003)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Astralwerks
- ASIN: B0000A4G4N
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
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With Kraftwerk now rumoured to be far more fascinated by bicycles than keyboards, it's perhaps not surprising that Tour De France Soundtracks is the group's first album for 12 years. Continuing to explore the theme of movement, men and machines that spawned the marvellous Autobahn, Trans-Europe Express and 1983's landmark single "Tour De France", Soundtracks is basically an expanded version of the latter, right down to the cover art.
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
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To make up for that, there are a few well developed selections here that make me keep slotting "Tour De France" into my disc player. The opening version of the title track is every bit as wonderful as its predecessors "Trans Europe Express" and "Autobahn" (as is the inclusion of the original version from '83 tagged on the end of the disc). After that, it's a hard pedal up the hill. I'll probably still enjoy "Electro Kardiogram" and "Aero Dynamik" in the coming years, but too much of "Tour" sounds like the kind of drone you'd listen to while on the treadmill in a hip exercise parlor with overpriced dues. Makes me wonder what a little judicial editing might have given us.
PS. The condescending lecture of a liner note concerning copyrights is something I hope the band didn't condone. While I am a firm believer (as a published author) in the sanctity of the right to own my work and right to be paid for my labors, I already bought this disc at full price. (I.E., Given the artist the support of my hard earned cash.) Do I really need to get such a patronizing slap in the face for having done so?
The band basically has nothing to prove any more. They are revered by electronica artists old and new, and rightly so. They clearly have little desire to be mired in the game of popular music as record label slaves or trend setters for a new generation.
Not surprising they would work on contract now. First it was the Expo 2000 single that came out of nowhere and acted as a theme for that event. Now they get the job of providing the soundtrack for the Tour De France 2003. Not a bad gig for these guys.
So what does this sound like? Actually, it sounds like Kraftwerk, plain and simple. They operate on their own, and they sound like they have no interest in what anyone else is doing. So you get an album that has all of the favorite sounds, with little attention paid to trends. And it holds up, plain and simple. Some of this is actually excellent chill out music, if a bit steely. But there are completely pleasant tunes on here, such as Vitamin, which makes you think of bobbing along in a Kraftwerkian landscape of synths and microships on a sunny day in the spring. The opening of the album is strong, you can see the bikers bolting off the line with Kraftwerk at the controls.
For Kraftwerk fans, it's a no brainer. I don't think this will win over many new fans or convert anyone who doesn't like electronic pop. But it's a solid effort, and hey, at least we finally got something.
GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK GUYS - now let's hope for a U.S. TOUR?!
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