Review: New Kraftwerk Gear?
The Doepfer A-100 Modular System
Originally featured in the article 'Activity - In Depth' from Aktivität 8, August 1996
A German music-technology magazine called 'Keys' featured some Kraftwerk input for a review and sample of a new piece of musical kit recently (the April 96 issue), the Doepfer A-100 modular system. Kraftwerk have previously been associated with the Doepfer company; in addition to custom retro-fit work, the band have also been involved with two previous Doepfer products, further details of these can be found in Aktivität 6's 'Vorsprung durch Technik?' article.
Featured in the April 1996 edition is the company's latest product, the A-100 modular system. Amongst these modules is a vocoder capability and it is in this context that Florian Schneider's input is to be found; as well as a short review, Schneider has also contributed a recording made with the equipment which is featured on the CD that accompanies the magazine. Before you rush off to track down a copy, I'll point out now that the 'vocoder poem', for want of a better description, is all of 26 or so seconds long, although there is a second version too put through various filters and the like. The tone poem itself is rather lyrical and easily comparable to the style you would find on the 'Radio-Activity' LP. What the poem's vocoded tones actually consist of is thus;
As my own German is very limited, one of our regular German contributers, Gunther Pöcker, is better placed to describe this piece to you;
'This 'poem' uses a vocabulary more typical for advertising text from the fifties, like 'angenehm', which is quite antiquated in this context. One would also not think of such a synth as necessarily 'pleasureable' to look at. The same applies to 'Musikabenteuer', which is quite a contrived word in this context, one would think more of an opera as a 'musical adventure'. In a modern ad., one would also not use the phrase 'nicht zu teuer', this does somehow sound cheap and is off the mark. One would either say 'billig' (cheap) or 'preiswert' (worth it's money). 'Nicht zu teuer' is more like 'just the right price'. The pronunciation is also just that little bit overdone, like a 50s advertising slogan. 'Speziell' is without meaning here, by the way. It's like 'especially' ... and then the object is missing.
All in all it uses just the sort of vocabulary that one does expect from Kraftwerk - decidely retro-futuristic with a funny twist. A female voice first introduces Florian Schneider almost like royalty, quite in keeping with the poem's vocabulary. Between the two versions, the change in the vocoder setting for the second version is explained.
On page 45 of the magazine, Schneider's review for the A-100 is very favourable;
Other Aktivität Online articles about Kraftwerk's equipment;
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010