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Radioland is a project for covering Kraftwerk, made up of Franck Vigroux and Matthew Bourne (accompanied live by visual artist Antoine Schmitt). Taking on a classic like Radio-Activity is a bold move, but they pull of the delicate balance between staying faithful to the material and slavishly copying it. Worth a listen! The LP edition comes with a CD, and the CD edition comes in a 20-page book.
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Wow. This album is a covers album, in that it covers one album, Kraftwerk’s 1975 release Radio-Activity. You may be wondering what the point of that is, but don’t worry, I am too. I mean, they’ve even gone to the trouble of assembling vintage analog synths and enlisting the same engineer that mastered Autobahn. It would make sense if this was a live project because Kraftwerk aren’t touring anymore, oh wait, they are…
Rather than just passing this aside as an arrogant desecration, let’s see where it differs. It’s mostly in the production: Radioland is glossier, more hi-fi than its predecessor, resulting in a sound that gets right up in your grill. It also lacks that vitally Kraftwerk ‘cute robot’ feel in the synth lines, some of them being changed fairly considerably while the song and atmosphere are definitely retained. The former may be one of the fundamental charms of the Kraftwerk sound, especially since the original merged that cuteness with a relatively dark style, so die-hard fans of the electronic masters of yore might not approach this so openly. To be honest I’m not sure what kind of listener this is for, and the press release doesn’t provide much justification. Apparently it’s been mutated with the addition of ‘hurricanes of modulated electronics’, but I’m pretty sure they were present on the original - correct me if I’m wrong.
Radioland is an interesting curio for the electroholic, but ultimately, I’m still asking ‘why?’.
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- Radioland: Radio-Activity Revisited by Franck Vigroux & Matthew Bourne
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