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- Kraftwerk? Ja Bitte! by Disappears/ Cloudland Canyon
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Transcending novelty is a hard thing when you’re an indie band doing a Kraftwerk cover. I even find Big Black’s version of ‘The Model’ to be more annoying than they probably originally intended. Not that Steve Albini would give two shits whether he was ever annoying some irritable dude in a record shop somewhere! It’s not like I hold the Kraut-bots in such high esteem that anyone meddling with their near-immaculate catalogue should be strung up...I just feel it’s largely unnecessary.
Therefore it’s a surprise to admit I love the Disappears version of ‘Trans Europe Express’ on this Sonic Cathedral split 7”. They inject a kind of pulsating, grainy apocalyptic menace and groove to a once incredibly minimal and relatively lightweight tune. The darkly intoned vocals sound genuinely spooky with a ricocheting beat and deep monotonous funk bassline carrying the classic melody, which is in turn stripped of any euphoria and replaced with a sense of grinding dystopian dread.
The Cloudland Canyon side doesn’t remotely let the side down either. ‘Radioactivity’ is my fave ‘Werk tune so had they ruined it I’d have been round their house with the chloroform, hammer and drill by sunset. So fortunately they’ve retained the proto-techno electro-bounce but toughened up the beat to forge a skittering thumper of a rhythm with slippery smeared vocals and a cute approximation of the original melody, littered with all manner of twittering cosmic debris. The vocals become slightly annoying by the climax but both acts here pull off their respective versions with originality and aplomb.
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