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In a nutshell, Kraftwerk drafted the late '70s blueprint that Detroit's Derrick May, Juan Atkins, et al. erected into techno's gleaming new metropolis and that electro-popsters Depeche Mode and Gary Numan took to the bank in the early '80s. Oh, and Kraftwerk invented electro too on 1981's Computer World (ask Afrika Bambaataa). Since then, Kraftwerk's innovations have ceased, as 1986's self-parody Electric Cafe and 1999's pretty but conservative Expo 2000 EP demonstrate. Soundtracks is far from groundbreaking, but it does its job well, providing efficiently propulsive scores to which cyclists can metronomically ride over the French countryside. (Ralf and Florian are avid cyclists themselves, which surely helps with the music's pacing.) Sadly, nothing here matches the majestically pastoral yet brutally clipped electrofunk of Kraftwerk's 1983 "Tour de France" single. Though Kraftwerk is now drafting behind the techno producers it inspired, it still can manufacture elegant rhythms and memorable euphonious melodies -- but that robot voice has got to go.
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Dave Segal
Contact: Dave Segal

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