Kraftwerk "Trans-Europa Express" (digital remaster)


Although Autobahn was a left-field masterpiece, Trans-Europe Express is often cited as perhaps the archetypal (and most accessible) Kraftwerk album. Melodic themes are repeated often and occasionally interwoven over deliberate, chugging beats, sometimes with manipulated vocals; the effect is mechanical yet hypnotic.

The song "Trans-Europe Express" (featured here) is similar in concept to "Autobahn," as it mimics the swaying motion and insistent drive of a cross-continent train trip.

Overall, Trans-Europe Express offers the best blend of minimalism, mechanized rhythms, and crafted, catchy melodies in the group's catalog; henceforth, their music would take on more danceable qualities only hinted at here (although the title cut provided the basis for Afrika Bambaataa's enormously important dancefloor smash "Planet Rock").

Mark Hollis - Mark Hollis

Mark Hollis - Mark Hollis

I was daydreaming as I walked to work the other day, as one often does. I was thinking about Mark Hollis, then about Talk Talk, then finally Laughing Stock. That's why I brought this album, because my thoughts warmed up as I thought about how Laughing Stock was once in my Top 5. Thinking about it, I'm not too sure that's changed at all. I haven't attempted to create a Top 5 albums list in years - probably because it would be a fruitless and depressing activity.

This album is beautiful. It's a lot like Laughing Stock I guess. Meandering. With later Hollis work you basically get mellow acoustic production with splashes of dreamy vocals, ebbs and flows. Thinking about it now it's just dawned on me that Talk Talk must have been instrumental in the creation of the post-rock genre. The elements were already all there by Spirit of Eden.

Damn, what a pretty little piece. Hollis' work is all about the space. You never fell rushed, the silences (and there are plenty of them) give you time to stop and think.

Yeah, I think Mark Hollis will stay in my Top 5 for another few years yet.

The Books - Thought for Food

The Books - Thought for Food

This reminds me of a lot of different stuff - probably because it's all over the place in terms of style. Don't get me wrong, it's stronger for it - a cohesive work. I imagine that without paying attention it probably sounds like a bit of a jumble of noises - closer inspection reveals some really intricate bits of construction.

Almost feels like Rachels (Systems Layers in particular) done on a budget. It has more variation than that though, bits of post-rock Mogwai-ish elements in there too (see All Our Base Are Belong To Them).

Just listened to Getting The Job Done. I really don't know what to think of this anymore.... though I do know that I like it.

Exploding Star Orchestra - We Are All From Somewhere Else

Exploding Star Orchestra - We Are All From Somewhere Else

I'm liking this more and more with every listen. At its core it's a big noisy jazz album, at times hectic like only a jazz lover could enjoy (check out the last 90 seconds of String Ray and the Beginning of Time, Pt. 1 for a demonstration). Annoyingly the EM version has 2 second gaps at the end of the songs which really ruins the effects of the transitions during the 4 part and 5 part tracks, ho-hum.

Every song exploits a different great off-kilter rhythm for its foundation. The orchestration is colourful, and the performance tight. Some of the melodies feel almost Eastern influenced (which currently finds favour with me).

According to their website:

We Are All From Somewhere Else is comprised of 3 distinct sections, and corresponds to a story involving an exploding star, cosmic transformation, a sting ray, the travels of the sting ray, intelligent conversations with electric eels, the destructive power of humans, the death and ascension of sting ray, the transformation of sting ray ghost to flying bird, and the transformation of bird to phoenix to rocket to flying burning matter to a new-born star.

I almost see what they're talking about - make of that what you will.

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