Album + Live
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Those who aren't really familiar with the work of the Dusseldorf elektronisch quartet have fun pointing out that, in their quest to celebrate the melding of man and machine, they have (literally) become robots themselves. Indeed, on their last world tour they were at times replaced by automatons modelled on themselves. Strange then, that Minimum-Maximum, their first official live album, reveals their show as being a spectacle of some considerable warmth and humanity. What's more (and here the cynics will shake their heads) - it rocks!
On first spec one may be tempted to say that, were it not for the suitably enthusiastic crowd noises in between tracks, youd be hard pressed to spot any differences between this and a greatest hits compilation (which is, after all, what most bands' live sets are). As always with Kraftwerk, the pleasure is in the intricate detail. The beautifully engineered beats and bleeps are, at times, quite radically different (and simplified) from studio counterparts, concentrating the mind wonderfully on the spacious melodies and crystalline arpeggios. This is, quite simply, the best way to hear Kraftwerk in a fresh setting.
Over the space of two discs we get treated to ALL the best bits too. The shimmering cityscapes of Neon Lights; The twinkling celebration of muscle power that is Tour De France; The quaint drum machine karaoke of The Model. Not only this, but their willingness to explore their back catalogue results in crowd-pleasing moments from way back, like Autobahn. Just listen to the joyful cries of recognition as the car doors slam! Of course none of this will convince the philistines who believe that making music this good involves nothing more complex than a good mains supply. But for those who kept the faith long enough to witness their heart-swelling return to public life, this is a very fine keepsake indeed.