Kraftwerk Tour de Palace Hall

On June 12, 2009, Kraftwerk performed on the stage of the Palace Hall in Bucharest. I am sure a lot of you never heard of them before but through this article you might find out some really interesting things about them.

For instance, did you know that they were the fathers of electronic music? I know these days electronic music might be associated with house music, clubs, flashy girls and boys with sunglasses, but back in the days was totally different. They were just guys on the stage and none of them was showing their muscles through a tight shirt, but only cables and weird machines making some incredible noises.

The history began in Dusseldorf. It’s 1970. Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter, stundets at the Dusseldorf Conservatory, met in the late 60’s and started experimenting with music using machines that could make noise and sounds. Actually, what they’ve really managed to do is to find the missing link between man and machine. There is no other electronic music band out there that can show this fusion better than them.

I guess it’s the perfect recipe for for an electronic music concert. They’re show is extremely simple and yet tremendously futuristic. Just four persons in front of 4 stands with four laptops having behind them a huge screen with some basic 3d visuals. They do look like robots but they are in fact humans. They use also lyrics in their songs recited by Ralf Hutter and most of the time they use a vocoder for that.
A vocoder it’s like an instrument on a synthesizer. You just select this instrument and you start playing the keyboard. But nothing happens, because this instrument is actually connected to the microphone. You just have to speak into your microphone and while you speak your voice will transform in that specific instrument / pattern. It’s quite cool and fun to play with and I’m sure you’ve heard these special vocal effects in the movies and music.

Let’s here the next example in the following excerpt from the concert – Radioactivity. I know the quality of the video and audio is poor but I assure you. The feeling when you hear that voice is breath taking. All your body shivers while listening to that.

So, at the beginning of that clip you could very well hear a modified voice. Well, that’s what the vocoder can do. And the possibilities are enormous. If you are a really good engineer you can make your own presets (patterns) so the voice could sound exactly the way you want.
The truth is that Kraftwerk did not just used sampled sounds from digital synthesizers. All the instruments they’ve used were analog and they’ve created their own patterns. I mean, when you see a guy in a band playing on a keyboard, that’s a synth which has instruments saved on it (like piano, violin, drums and so on…). You can modify let’s say the piano, in various ways, you can add instruments over that piano so it will sound more diverse but it’s still the piano. Well, Kraftwerk created their own piano sounds. And for that it takes time and sound engineering skills.
Their simple looks and minimal image did not look like that from the beginning. Nowadays you can install on a tiny laptop a lot of music softwares and VST instruments (let’s say, virtual instruments) and patches and whatever, and simply connect a keyboard to the laptop and there you have it. Your own music station. But back in the days the machines who could create these types of sounds were huge and took a lot of time to set them on a stage. It was difficult to sustain a tour.
But now like I said before everything it’s more simplified and it’s like you witness an encounter of the third kind. Another example from the concert showing you the visuals behind the band members. Fascinating!

So, what’s different than other electronic music bands, or even house music DJ’s? I guess that what’s so attractive about Kraftwerk is the perfect sound that they’ve managed to create. When you go to a club and listen to house or techno or rave music, you either have these disturbing deep bass sounds that eats all the mediums and highs and all you can hear it’s the beat in your chest or you can cover your ears because some synths are overcharged and thus becoming annoying. But at Kraftwerk everything it’s perfect. Every sound is so clear that is very pleasant to hear. I really don’t think anyone would be annoyed while listening to this music. Even if you don’t like electronic music you have to appreciate the sound.
One of the most spectacular part during the concert was the long awaited moment when the members of Kraftwerk transformed into robots. No, it’s not Transformers as we know it, but it’s still as fascinating as the movie. Maybe when you’ll see this next excerpt you all will recognize them, seeing them on mtv. It’s the four robots with human figures (actually resembling the real members of the band) playing the stands and making the statement “We are the robots”. And I guess this is exactly the music robots would play if they would have artificial intelligence.

So, I guess I’ve opened your interest into this music and hope to experience it once in your life. You never know but in the future you’re children and grandchildren will also listen to this and you have to get used to it. This, or Gipsy music. Depends on what we’ll do until then. But remember, these guys started the future back in the 70’s. And now we’re getting closer to that Computer World with more smartphones, slimmer tv’s, powerful computers, and of course, virtual wallpapers instead of real windows.

Could no be more happier that I’ve attended this show. Will go again if I will have the chance. And I do hope so that they will come and concert again in Romania.

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