June, 2020

Autobahn, 1974

standout track: Autobahn It was the news of Florian Schneider’s death that compelled me to spend some time listening again to Kraftwerk. I suspect that Schneider was the source of David Stubbs’ identification of the “deep sardonic comic sensibility that always lurks beneath the surface of Kraftwerk”. If you’ve ever watched videos of Kraftwerk performing live, it’s hard not to miss Schneider’s rascally smile or that comic, knowing glint in his eye while the other mensche-maschine play impassively. I’m sure my first encounter with electronic music was watching something like Tomorrow’s World on BBC One as a child or Popcorn…

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Back to the Back of a Block-rocking Comic Book!

One of my monthly pleasures before Lockdown was to scan the pages of Previews, the catalogue that would announce upcoming comic book and graphic novel releases. Things have changed since March: lots of titles have been cancelled (some creators have been cancelled, too, but that’s a whole different matter) and DC has split from Diamond distributors which has thrown the comics business into a great sense of foreboding and confusion. UK comics are being released a week later than the US at the moment which is a bit rubbish as the online hype and conversations about each week’s releases will…

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Wire, 10:20

I almost missed this. Wire has a second album, 10:20, out this year. And it’s absolutely brilliant. Unlike Mind Hive, their most recent album – which I thought was their strongest in years – this one seems to act as a compilation of re-recorded, reworked songs from old albums or songs that didn’t make the final cuts. The band call these “stray” tracks that have evolved over the years through love performance. Half were recorded in 2010 and the rest more recently. There’s a less aggressive, calmer – maybe supremely assured feel to 10:20 than Hive Mind. Among the tracks…

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Room at the Top

After I was born my mother took me home from hospital to a small rented attic room at the top of a Victorian house in Rochester. We walked past the house today and I pointed it out to Alice and Soren. “That’s where I lived as a baby,” I told them, pointing at the top far-left window. It’s a tall, dark and Dickensian-looking house that hasn’t changed at all. My mother was on her own when I was born and she told me that she spent a very cold winter with me in her room. She became unwell and her…

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Florian Schneider, “sonic perfectionist”

This month’s Electronic Sound has a heartwarming tribute to the enigmatic Florian Schneider, who died earlier this year. The piece, by Stephen Dalton, gives an excellent account of Schneider’s role in Kraftwerk. It’s particularly good in establishing the nature of the tensions between Schneider and Ralf Hütter that eventually led to Schneider leaving the group in 2008. I loved the ending of the piece: “Their Kraftwerk Konzept still visionary, their musical legacy unassailable. Humans may die but The Man-Machine goes on forever.”

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