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Kraftwerk Retrospective At The Tate Modern

Published: Wed February 06, 2013  News Feed

Kraftwerk Retrospective At The Tate Modern

It's fair to say that without Kraftwerk modern music would be very different, a huge influence on artists like Daft Punk, Brian Eno, Trevor Horn, Aphex Twin and Madonna. Always with an eye on the future Kraftwerk used technology to create soundscapes, robot rhythms and brought a visual/artistic style to popular music. Here's the program  for the gigs with some info on the gear Krafwerk used during that era, both on tour and in the studio.

1 – Autobahn (1974)

Perhaps the most famous piece of gear Kraftwerk ever used is their custom built vocoder, a cornerstone of much of their early sound. Of course it's a bit tricky to get a hold of your own custom vocoder. For guitarists you can blend your voice with your guitar using this Electro Harmonix Vocoder (bring a bit of electronia to your live setup) or a more classic solution as part of the Microkorg XL.

2 – Radio-Activity (1975)

Here's where Kraftwerk got their first basic drum machine and introduced the electronic rhythms which would further develop their sound. Drum machines is one area which has only really seen progress getting more, better quality sounds and more interactive interfaces. The Arturia Spark LE is a great example of a performance drum machine to get creative with and for a more comprehensive option try the Native Instrument Maschine or Mikro (also come with Massive for a huge range of synth tones).

3 – Trans Europe Express (1977)

Using the Synthanorma was the key to some of the rhythmic textures on this album, custom built for the band it's another piece you wont be getting your hands on any time soon. But thanks to ever increasing interest in analogue synthesis there's a number of options for controlling your synths with Control Voltage and getting creative. Including the Akai Max49 and Electro Harmonix 8 Step.

4 – The Man-Machine (1978)

You can hear more of the Synthanorma on this album, with the Minimoog this combo really defined the late seventies Kraftwerk sound. Now Moog are still going strong and you really cant go wrong with the latest Minimoog Voyager or it's little brother the Sub Phatty.

5 – Computer World (1981)

The Minimoog was of course taken on the tour to promote Computer World. Some interesting additions to the setup were a Dubreq Stylophone, Texas Instruments Translator (hear it chatting at the start of the video below) and a Roland Microcomposer sequencer (not used on any albums so possibly a handy replacement for the Synthanorma). You can of course still get the Stylophone and it's new upgraded sibling, also try out a modern Roland hardware sequencer.

6 – Techno Pop (1986)

The Linn Drum was massively popular in this era and of course Kraftwerk had to get onto it. Hard to believe now but the Linn Drum was considered as good as the real thing, people were predicting that session drummers would be out of work before the end of the eighties. If you're after realistic drum sounds these days you're spoilt for choice, BFD and EZDrummer offer gigabytes of high quality samples to get that real drum sound on your computer.

7 – The Mix (1991)

We've yet to touch on the use of delay and like any artist keen on creating space and atmosphere delay and reverb must be key. An Echolette delay was used on a lot of Kraftwerk's albums, nowadays you're better served with an accurate replication, certainly saves on maintenance without compromising tone.

8 – Tour de France (2003)

Always on the cutting edge Kraftwerk took Nord synths and Eventide outboard on their 1998 tour. Even more recently they've been seen using Cubase and manipulating the software with various MIDI controllers.

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