Kraftwerk-aktivität in the '90s
January; the Japanese re-issue of 'Computer World' on CD finally appears, but it includes only 'Dentaku' as a bonus track and not the two versions of 'Tour De France' as originally planned, much to the dissapointment of many fans.
Mail order stores also list a single and album release from Japan for Kraftwerk... by the years end there is no sign of either release.
'Trancewerk Express Volume 2' sees the light of day, with further interpretations, mainly in a techno/dance style of Kraftwerk material, again from the Hypnotic/Cleopatra label in the US. By the years end another various artists Kraftwerk cover version double CD called 'Krafty Moves' appears in Germany.
Following in the vein of The Balanescu Quartet and 'Trans Slovenia Express' releases, a CD from Terre Thaemlitz called 'Die Roboter Rubato' on the Milles Plateux label features piano renditions of Kraftwerk material.
The start of the year sees the release of 'Stereomatic' by Yamo as a single in Germany. This is followed later in the year by the 'Time Pie' album in Germany and, later, USA and Japan. A second single, 'Guiding Ray', is also issued in Germany. Wolfgang Fluer makes promotional visits to America and Japan as well as also appearing for the second year in succession at the KLEMDag event in Holland, this time with a presentation of the 'Time Pie' album, including the airing of an electronic press kit featuring some of his own home-movie footage of his days with Kraftwerk.
February 7 sees the announcement of the news confirming that Kraftwerk will make a live appearance at the 1997 'Tribal Gathering' event at Luton Hoo estate, England, on May 24. Speculation regarding a new album hightens...
With the forthcoming live appearance, there are numerous press articles in the media re-apprasing Kraftwerk. Significantly, no new interviews at all with the band are forthcoming.
Further DJ-remix/sample-cover verions of Kraftwerk material appear, on some coloured vinyl 12" singles.
Rumour suggests that a new Kraftwerk track will appear in the new Wim Wenders movie, 'The End Of Violence'. By the years end, and the release of the movie and soundtrack, it becomes obvious that this is not so.
May sees a press release from EMI to announce the re-issue of some Kraftwerk material to coincide with the 'Tribal Gathering' event. A series of four promo-only 12" singles ('Trans-Europe Express', 'Home Computer', 'Numbers' and 'Music Non Stop') were to be issued throughout May and also be available in a very limited edition boxed set (some copies with a T-shirt too).
The press release also announces the issue on June 2nd of a new re-issue of 'The Man Machine' in new, enhanced 'digipak' sleeve packaging and complete with a bonus CD with three extra German language edits, while similar re-issues for 'Radio-Activity' and 'Trans-Europe Express' are scheduled for July.
As it happens, only the 12" singles appeared, with silly sums of money being charged for copies of the box set. The CD re-issues have never been released.
May 24th sees the long awaited return of Kraftwerk to live performance at 'Tribal Gathering'. The band perform their set in a large capacity tent. Speculation prior to the event mentioned that they would perform new songs. In the event, they did in fact perform one brand new, untitled, song and were to be seen wearing a new outfit to coincide with this track - no doubt inspired by the wire-frame 'Music Non Stop' video, the UV-illuminated suits were very memorable!
The set-list for the 'Tribal Gathering' live performance was; 'Numbers', 'Computer World', 'Home Computer', 'The Man Machine', 'Tour De France', 'Autobahn', 'Sellafield 2-Radioactivity', 'Trans-Europe Express'-'Abzug'-'Metal On Metal', 'Pocket Calculator'/'Dentaku', 'The Robots'/'Robotronik', New Song, 'Music Non Stop'
BBC Radio 1FM broadcast some of the event - the impression is given that it is being broadcast live, but in fact their broadcast was a few hours after Kraftwerk had appeared. To add insult to injury, only a number of the songs are broadcast and the first two tracks broadcast were re-played at a slow sample speed making them sound much slower than they should be.
Further live activity follows later in the year with live appearances in Austria and Germany in October. On October 16 the band play live in Linz, Austria while two days later on the 18th the band perform live in Karlsruhe, Germany as part of the 'Multimediale 5' event at the ZKM. The shows have even more surprises than the 'Tribal Gathering' event, with a further two brand new songs aired and a new version of 'Airwaves' performed too.
Setlist for these two concerts is; 'Nummern', 'Computerwelt', 'Heimcomputer', 'The Man Machine', 'Tour de France', 'Autobahn', 'Aetherwellen', New Song 1, 'Sellafield 2' - 'Radioaktivitaet', New Song 2, 'Trans Europa Express'- 'Abzug'-'Metall auf Metall', 'Taschenrechner', 'Die Roboter/Robotronik', New Song 3 (first performed at 'Tribal Gathering), 'Musik Non Stop'
With all this new live activity, inevitable bootleg CDs with both the 'Tribal Gathering' and 'ZKM' concerts appear, as well as further DJ remix compilations and more archive live concerts. The 'ZKM' live double bootleg CD features recordings of the three new tracks as well as the new version of 'Airwaves'.
The German music channel VIVA honour Kraftwerk with their 'Branchen-Comet '97' (Lifetime Achievement) Award at their annual awards ceremony. Perhaps unsurprsingly no Kraftwerk members attend to collect the award, an EMI representative instead performing the necessary honours.
Further Kraftwerk involvement with the Doepfer instrument company is mooted, with their MS-404 and Schaltwerk equipment. The Schaltwerk certainly was on display amongst the Kling Klang racks at their concerts of this year. The Quasimidi company have also stated on their literature that Kraftwerk have used their Rave-O-Lution 309 module in their recent concerts.
Karl Bartos continues his work with the Swedish band Mobile Homes, with a single called 'You Make The Sun Shine' mooted for a new year release. He has also contributed a remix to a track called 'Coma' by a band called Superior. Talk of a new 'Elektric Music' album for release in the new year is also present.
The Christmas/New Year double-issue of the NME music paper contains a brief report on potential forthcoming live work from Kraftwerk in the spring of 1998 in London...
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010