Music » Music Previews

Kraftwerk’s welcome to the machine

The pioneering electronic outfit performs at the Orpheum Theater Sept. 9



Who could have guessed in 1976 that, four decades later, Kraftwerk would still possess the most technologically innovative live music performance of the year? Probably everyone. Certainly anyone who had witnessed the self-processing of the German soothsayers in the mid-1970s, from analog instrumental noodlers to Autobahn bandwidth surfers to heady, deadpan Trans-Europe Express conductors and, finally, Man-Machine android mongrels. The 21st century has played out exactly as Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider said it would, and thus the world finally caught up to Kraftwerk. It's impossible to listen to any electronica from 1980 to present day without hearing resounding echoes of this band. Part of it is due to the amino-acid nature of its recording techniques, which used custom-built tech to convey universally understood musical language (ringing octaves, pinging sonar, static scratches, motorik cycles, monotone funk). The other part is the circuitous congruence of a group of humans making music as robots that ended up as the digital backbone for so much more human music: "Trans-Europe Express" alone served as Joy Division's entrance music, Afrika Bambaataa's regenerative engine and the minimalist inspiration for just about every '80s sci-fi TV and film theme ever. This audiovisual exhibition augments a 40-year career retrospective with holographic, theater-filling three-dimensional projection. As if there's any other way. Tickets $49.50-$59.50.

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