George Starostin's Reviews



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Greg Bougopoulos <> (12.12.2000)

Not too bad, but certainly not on par with their best.  The first two tracks, "Ruckzack" and "Stratovaius" are the standouts.  The first is the unquestionable highlight, while the latter, though a bit too long, is very interesting.  The other two are boring and go nowhere.  I was waiting and waiting, and nothing happened.... Still, I'll give this 2.5 stars, and maybe even 3, in case my mind changes.  After all, I have more of an admiration and love for Kraftwerk than you do.


Francis Mansell <> (13.07.2004)

With you on most of this album George, it sounds like a bunch of total non-musicians aimlessly pissing about with some instruments, I couldn't even bring myself to listen to it again so that I could make more informed comments (haven't played those tracks in many years) but all I can remember is that I found it not just unlistenable but baffling - what was the point? We know they WEREN'T non-musicians - Ralf and Florian met at a bloody music school for chrissakes. And if, as seems likely, it was "conceptual" ... well, duh, crap concept. Oh well, never mind, they got a LOT better!

However, I sharply disagree about "Klingklang". For a start it's where they begin to sound like the Kraftwerk that sprang fully into being on "Autobahn" (the track, not the rest of the album) and subsequently developed into the astonishingly brilliant computerised act I saw live a few months ago (give or take 17 years of writer's block!) and I'm sure in this context it's no accident that they named their studio after it. But apart from that, I like the damn thing, significant or not. I like the pleasant metallic klings and klangs at the beginning, and I like the 15 minutes of hypnotic groove that follows even more. Sure, it ain't as good as "Autobahn" or quite a lot of things they've done subsequently, but it's still good. I can't quite understand the vitriol you pour on it, George, except in context of how utterly useless the rest of the album is - did it put you in such a foul mood that you couldn't hear "Klingklang" on its own merits? Forget the rest of the album and give "Klingklang" another chance.

Caleb Smith <> (27.06.2006)

George, you said:

"But I really hate it when somebody gets so outrageously avantgarde that he breaks the essence of music itself. Music is not noise, after all; you can make music out of noise, but in order to do that, you have to follow certain rules."

Hmm, well I sort of take issue with this. I don't particularly see the problem if "the essence of music" is broken. Can't sound itself be art and not be music? I realize you are interested in music, and are reviewing music, but I can't really comprehend why you would "hate" something that may not be music but it still a work of art (not neccesarily good art or bad art, just art). There are many folks who enjoy avant-garde sound experiments even if they fall outside of what you call "music." Again, I can understand why one might not like it, but I don't particularly understand the offense you take to it.


<> (12.03.2001)

Basically, you're wrong on this one. This is one of the most beautifull proto-ambient pieces I have heard. I think it's much better than Autobahn. How many good tracks are there on Autobahn? Two perhaps? Every track on here complements the other. Blissfull. A sculptured beauty to be admired. Adios my friend....


Greg Bougopoulos <> (12.12.2000)

A bit overrated.  The title track does go on for a wee bit too long and the lyrics are a bit dumb, but it is still powerful, in a Kraftwerk sort of way of course.  The second side is better though, in my opinion .  The second "Kometenmelodie" in particular, is very nice.  It exhibits much hope in the music.  "Mitternacht" is also a favorite of mine here.  I'll give this 4 stars.  I do have to wonder how the hell the edited "Autobahn" was played on American radio (or any radio) though.  I mean it reached the damn top 30!  And the album reached the top 10!  Simply puzzling.

Mike DeFabio <> (12.01.2001)

Everybody needs the title track in their collection. However, over here in America, a copy of this album is extremely hard to find, so I had to pay like 20 dollars for an expensive import. And while the first side is a fantastic song (it's so happy!) the second side begins to drag a little, especially the last song, which is basically new age soothing-sounds-of-a-babbling-brook-accompanied-by-flute-and-birds tripe. I'd give it a three. Out of 5! It's not THAT bad!

Mattias Lundberg <> (27.02.2002)

A good album with a sound production that is nothing short of brilliant. 'Autobahn' is the most momentous and idiosyncratic track. In my opinion all the B-side tracks smell of the earlier Hutter/Schneider albums, (although they're better than these) which I'm no admirer of. 'Autobahn' is altogether different from all tracks on the later albums as well, never again did they venture into this hybrid of ambient and concrete music.

Oh, I just thought of another thing; you mentioned that the English-speaking world acquired the analogy with 'Fun, Fun, Fun'. Yesterday I listened to Autobahn for the first time in ages, and I noticed something I've never heard before (silly me): one of the small rondo-sections in the beginning of the song (c:a 3 minutes into the piece, perhaps) is a near-quotation of 'You still believe in me' from Pet Sounds, that section that goes "I wanna cry...". Listen to it and you'll see that the substructure of the melodies are exactly the same.

David Dickson <> (08.01.2006)

WHeeee! I got a pirated release of this album in Russia, so I got the original German-language version! For TWO BUCKS! Everyone, go to Russia right now and buy your CDs there. Yeah, my copy of the Beegees' Odessa broke down after two years, but even after replacing it twice, it STILL costs less.

And hey! These Kraftwerk, um, HERRS are actually pretty good! They can't sing at all (at least, not in a technically GOOD way), but this is one hell of a bright, warm happy album for the electronecronomicon-or-something genre it supposedly pioneered. It reminds me of the soundtrack to educational films I watched in middle school (Celly the Biology Cell--How your Body Works!!). Seriously.

Yeah, I was expecting something robotic and/or "proto-'80's," but this album has "NINETEEN SEVENTY-FOUR" written all over it. Even if you've only heard ROCK from the early '70's, you'll think to yourself, "Hmm, that sounds like it was made in the early '70's!" And indeed it does, every synthtone and low-tech vacuum-tube-sounding electro-drum bursting with warm, happy, old- fashioned flavor. The title track, in particular, sounds sooo cute and optimistic (despite its length and psychedelia), kids will dig it to pieces. I'm not kidding! (har. . . dy. . . har, Dave.)

And side two is just as good--in fact, one could make an argument that Kraftwerk established ambient music as a viable genre with tracks two and four a year before Eno. "Morgenspazzganglion" or whatever that is--what a pleasant little ending. So cute.

I'm no Kraftwerk fan yet (this is the only album of theirs I've heard--or for that matter, any pre-'90's electronica), but I heard THIS was their most revolutionary album, and so far, revolutionariness goes hand in hand with quality. It may not be an absolutely perfect album--it's almost too calm and minimalist for its own good--but it IS unquestionably the best electronica album of any decade I've yet heard. (Competition: Boards of Canada, The Orb, Autechre, Massive Attack, and every Prodigy album. Eh. . . not saying much, there. . .)


Greg Bougopoulos <> (12.12.2000)

I have the english language version of this.  I have to say that the title track is one of Kraftwerk's finest songs ever.  It created some controversy in fact.  Some accused Ralf and Florian of supporting nuclear fission and all that sort of stuff, missing the irony of the lyrics to the song.  The rest of the stuff is definately interesting, but I admire this album more than I want to listen to it.  Still, the sounds on this album were amazing achievements, in spite of this.  I give it 3 stars like you.

Mike DeFabio <> (16.03.2001)

This could have been their greatest album if not for one tiny little flaw: there aren't very many songs on it. "Geiger Counter" is just a bunch of clicking noises, "Intermission" is 20 seconds of plinkity synth jingles, "News" is a bunch of people talking for about a minute, "The Voice Of Energy" is this spooky robot voice saying some German crap, "Radio Stars" is this incredibly annoying "Bwooooooop!" noise repeated over and over for 3 and a half minutes, and "Uranium" is another spooky robot voice saying some stuff about, er, uranium. The actual songs, however, are mostly pretty good. The worst of these is "Radioland," but it's not bad. Just a bit underdeveloped. The rest are topnotch! If only the rest of the album was as good as "Radioactivity," "Antenna," "Airwaves," and "Ohm Sweet Ohm." But it's not. So I give it a three a half, because some of the noise bits are real neat. No substitute for real songs, though.

Mattias Lundberg <> (27.02.2002)

Weaker than immediately preceding and following albums, and the poor production makes Autobahn sound 80s in comparison. Melodically (not the first concept to spring to mind when discussing Kraftwerk) it foreshadows Trans-Europe Express. The synth snippet on the title track resembles those on 'Europe Endless', and it is structured similarly (going to the lower mediant and back) as well. I also like 'Radioland' very much.


Mike DeFabio <> (12.01.2001)

Right on the nose. The songs themselves are all real nifty proto-synth pop ditties, but they're all very LONG proto-synth pop ditties. If they'd just cut the length of all the songs in half and added more songs of equal greatness (maybe the songs from The Man Machine with their lengths cut in half) they'd have easily made the greatest album they ever made. But alas, they did not, so their greatest album is still Computer World. I have this in handy CD format, so I get to hear "Franz Schubert," and it's quite pleasant. There are no drums or vocals or anything, just this nice little electronic string quartet that soon segues into a brief reprise of the "Europe Endless" theme. I'd also give this a 3 and 1/2, 4 and 1/2 if they'd just trimmed the songs down a little! It's still really good, though. No-one else sounded this eighties in the seventies.

Mattias Lundberg <> (27.02.2002)

Their best album, in my opinion (although I've yet to hear 'Electric Cafe'). The build-up on 'Europe Endless' is just amazing and, for once, they use warmer synth sounds that make the whole composition sound like a humanist statement rather than the usual bleak Dusseldorfer soundscapes. I don't think it's overlong either, mimimalism requires volume to make up for the sparseness of motifs. 'Hall of mirrors' is also top notch whereas I could do without 'Showroom dummies' and 'Franz Schubert'.

Robert K. Huselius <> (14.03.2002)

You state that noone else was doing anything that resembled T.E.E. in 1977 - "definitely not the disco masters like the Bee Gees". Actually, this is just about opposite to the truth; in that same year, Donna Summer and producer Giorgio Moroder released the groundbreaking single "I Feel Love" - a completely synth-driven, 8-minute sequencer-fest which, in the light of house and trance music, sounds miles ahead of what Kraftwerk were doing at the time. Rumour has it that it actually spurred Kraftwerk into the more sparse, simplistic arrangements on Die Mensch-Maschine and Computerwelt. Well, just the striking similarity of the drum sound on Mensch-Maschine and this one is proof enough for me...


Mattias Lundberg <> (27.02.2002)

This is also a very good album, perhaps more different than inferior to Trans Europa Express. The two pop hits are brill,of course, making the idiom of the last three albums readily accessible without loosing much substance. 'Neon lights' is my favourite track, though. The (deliberately?) poor tuning of the vocals highlight the synthetic ideal, as cultivated by these guys. Perhaps I got a bit carried away when I claimed Trans Europa Express to be their best album; some days I prefer Die Mensch-Maschine and it is, as you say, probably the best introduction to Kraftwerk (unless you arrive at them via the Krautrock route).


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