Kraftwerk - Tour de France Soundtracks [Astralwerks, 2003]

Recently I did something I haven't been doing for a long time: I went to a record shop and bought a regular CD. The new Kraftwerk. For almost 18 Euro ($20) I got 12 songs. One song was previously published. Tour de France. So it's really 11 new songs. Another one is just a short prologue, it doesn't really count. Also there are 3 pretty similar versions of the new version of Tour de France. So you could say I got really 8 unique new songs for my 20 bucks. Considering I could have downloaded them from the Apple MP3 store for less than $8 it means I paid $12 for the booklet. So let's see what I got:
The booklet has 20 pages including front and back page. That's 60 cent per page. Inside it's mostly black and white, except blue and red type on page 2, red arrows on page 8, a curved red line and type on page 10 and 12 and a red circle on page 18.

There are lots of photos of bicycles, French mountains, maps and technical charts. It's all about the Tour de France, of which I am not a big fan. This year I only watched the last ├ętappe, that was when I still had television. There is no photo of Kraftwerk or at least robots that look like Kraftwerk. I seriously doubt that anything except Kraftwerk could have made me buy a tiny little book with 20 pages and b&w photos of the Tour de France for $12. Given the price for the booklet, the 8 bucks for the music are a downright bargain. I get exactly what I imagined I would get, krafty Kraftwerk electronic sounds with typical Kraftwerk rhythms and Kraftwerk lyrics such as "Elektro... kardio... gramm". Or "Kalium... Calcium... Eisen... Magnesium... Karbohydrat(?)... Protein... ABCD Vitamin..." And a few other chemical substances that end with "in". Ok. Thinking that Kraftwerk spent the last 18 years to invent these new songs, their ability to reduce things to the absolute minimum can only be highly admired.

Projecting their output as it had developed throughout the last 3 decades, Kraftwerk will probably publish their next album in 32 years. The lyrics then will go "pacemaker... wheelchair... bypass... hearing aid..." and it will entirely be produced by robots, that will be programmed with anything Kraftwerk had ever made.

What always strikes me on these new CDs are the stickers, warnings and logos all over the cover about "copy control". I am still trying to figure what the industry wants to tell me by that. What does it mean, "copy controlled"? I mean, I put the CD in my Mac Cube, open up iTunes and then I copy the CD. That's it.

It's strange.

Moritz Reichelt

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Kraftwerk - Tour de France Soundtracks