[Review] Kraftwerk: Radio-Activity (1975)

Not electronic music but electrical music featuring transistors, Geiger counters and radio waves.

Kronomyth 5.0: The meaning of resistance, or wire we here?

I’ve been playing with impressionistic writing lately, which is to say writing that conjures the specific impression an album leaves behind. I’m not sure if it’s a better communicator than straight prose, so if you find this useless (or just plain annoying), my apologies to you and the memory of Kraftwerk. This is not poetry, which would require countless revisions; it’s more of a sketch that utilizes a vague rhythm/rhyme scheme.

If robots dream of ‘lectric sheep / there must be lullabyes / cooed in the cool tones of ohms / or crackling surges / which Kraftwerk slips into the deep / subconscious of surprises / static jumping from their bones / at a resistor’s urges / Here is an Eden after man / an earth that brooks no moistened breath / where small mechanical insects / chatter after death / in the porticos of great houses / beneath the dust of history / emboldened by uranium / sleeping but fitfully / as the light waves wash over the ground / light of a harsh star unyielding / undiminished by atmosphere / swift and unfeeling / pulsing through the desiccated strands / of trees where lovers might have stood / twined in a copse of sunlit warmth / im himmelsblut / How many now have plugged this buzzing box of sound into the wall / and heard in it the call / of an electric litany to come / ages from whence the will of man is done? / Then will these copper wires strain to see / the last immortal coil’s activity.

Original elpee version

A1. Geiger Counter (1:04)
A2. Radioactivity (6:44)
A3. Radioland (5:53)
A4. Airwaves (4:53)
A5. Intermission (0:15)
A6. News (1:31)
B1. The Voice of Energy (0:54)
B2. Antenna (3:45)
B3. Radio Stars (3:38)
B4. Uranium (1:24)
B5. Transistor (2:15)
B6. Ohm Sweet Ohm (5:40)

Music by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider, lyrics by Emil Schult.

The Players

Karl Bartos (electronic percussion), Wolfgang Flür (electronic percussion), Ralf Hütter (vocals, synthesizers, Orchestron, electronic piano, drum machine, electronics), Florian Schneider (vocals, vocoder, votrax, synthesizers, electronics). Produced by Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider and Emil Schult; engineered by Peter Bollig.

The Pictures

Artwork by Emil Schult.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in November 1975* in Germany and the UK (Capitol, E-ST 11457), the US (Capitol, ST-11457) and France (Capitol, 2C 006 82087) with insert. Reached #140 on the US charts. (*First appeared in 11/22/75 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Capitol, SN-16380).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1993 in the US (Capitol Special Markets, S11-56855).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in April 1995 in Germany (EMI, 746132) and on September 26, 1995 in the US (Capitol, 46474) and the Netherlands (EMI, 746474).

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