How the Kraftwerk Computer World Predicts Our Technology-Utopian Fate


Memory is associated with decay, but some of us can still remember a very old time for computers themselves. In the late seventies, earlier prototypes included the Apple II, Commodore PET and the TRS-80. Programmed with fast software, their joys and intrigue remain esoteric, captivating. Beyond hardware, the Internet is an unknown realm; Email and social media have never been invented, and video chats are simply science fiction. Despite all of these limitations, many geographies of a Computer World envisioned by German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.

Released on May 10, 1981, Kraftwerk’s eighth studio album was announced at the beginning of the information age. Raised by wealthy, West German families, Ralf Hütter and the late Florian Schneider have long enjoyed access to the most expensive and sought-after electronic gadgets. However, the detailed arrangements used in previous releases have been difficult to get around, so together with Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür, they are working towards something more modular.

on Computer World, the group embraced the sounds of everyday objects. It includes a Casio pocket calculator, a Bee Gees -themed toy, and a Speech & Spell translation device made with Texas instruments.

As self -proclaimed robots, Kraftwerk is designed to embrace the computer itself. For their previous album, 1978’s The Human Machine (The Human Machine), the band that aims to synthesize themselves through a singular, technological perspective. In a CREEM interview from 1975, Lester Bangs asked Ralf Hütter if it could one day, the musician’s maneuvering machines. Hütter replied, “Yes. We did it. It’s like a robot thing, when it comes to a stage. Start playing lt… not you and me anymore, lt already. ”

This kind of mechanical advancement has long driven Kraftwerk’s music. First it’s fun, fun, fun to Highway; then the station-to-station efficiency of Trans Europe Express; and finally, the endurance of the heart Tour de France. By Computer World, the group proposes a form of transportation that is not directive – but dimensional. Similar to running radio channels Radio Activity, the PC offers a magic portal, a scene composed of one and zeros.

“I programmed my computer in my home,” they declared, “to switch myself in the future.” And here we are, in the future. A digital dystopia. Just as computers have changed in the last 40 years, so has our way of life. Little enough to fit in our hand and be addictive that we would never let go. Such access brings a confidence, a constant longing for the brightness of a screen; the eternal scroll.

The “Pocket Calculator” has evolved; its functions exceed that described in lead single from Computer World. In addition to adding, subtracting, “controlling and composing,” we traverse networks, join platforms, and telecommute. If the world closes in 2020, these “pocket calculators” will become more important than ever. As social isolation measures are implemented, smartphone users are seeing their time increase on screen intensity. Throughout the lockdown, a deep sense of “Computer Love” prevailed. Our sick COVID was predicted in four pieces from Dusseldorf on the title track: know what to do / I need an encounter, I need an encounter. ”

Longing for partnership, our subject called for a “data date,” whose terms are vague but unfamiliar. On computers we give our time, our attention and our love, but more importantly we give our information. The encoded “Numbers” are important, as suggested by the album’s fourth solo, its lyrics move outside the realm of words. A conversation from Computer World found the circuit in which Hütter considered the importance of digits:. ”

Which brings us to “Computer World 2,” the seed second part. Here we encounter the Twitter bot, face scanning, ransomware, and crypto-currency: “Business, numbers / Money, people.” Forty years later, digital privacy is still a wild frontier. With each click and scroll we encounter a new set of conditions. In 1981, the purifiers of personal data were “Interpol and Deutsche Bank / FBI and Scotland Yard.” Today our information is used for political gain, harvested by companies like Cambridge Analytica.

And we rely on our personal data in readiness, because as always, “You’ll Be More Easier to Calculate.” The song proves paramount due to repetition. Computing to 2021 is more exciting than anything. So fun really, that many of us are addicted to the process, which is set on constant feed. Being in the middle of screens affects our happiness, our sleep, our identity recognition. We had a hard time avoiding computers, in order to regain their joys. In an effort to regain focus, we blocked websites, used recorded sessions, denied our phones. More than ever, we have become a Computer World.

As for Kraftwerk, the group enjoys an equally different digital apotheosis. Computer World still considered by fans and critics to be their ultimate LP cause. In the promotional photos for the release, the four members appear shiny and tough. Mannequins made in their appearance revolve around arm robots, like “Show Room Dummies”. But these cybernetic aspirations are not always very well received. The group has been accused of using technology to eclipse the pop star’s traditional image. In this regard, their intentions are always very clear. Hütter has previously stated, “We are not artists or musicians. First of all, we are workers. ”

While making “Numbers” on Computer world Traveling, the four Kraftwerk members would always come to the edge of the stage and play hand -held devices for the crowd. During these colloquial encores, Florian Schneider learns to tear a mini keyboard off his back, a send-up tongue of new rock guitarists. Engaging the audience in this way will further erode the image of the music artist. An egalitarianism was established with the crowd and a sense of humanity was restored to the performers.

The effect of Computer World in popular culture both immediately and lasting. Through commercial success, the album introduced Kraftwerk’s music to a wider audience, especially the evolving DJ culture. Just a year after its release, the solo “Numbers” was sampled by Arika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force for the electro smash hit “Planet Rock”. As quotes from their songs increased, Kraftwerk found themselves filled with many cases. However, legal action failed. Time itself cannot darken the light of Computer World. The album continues to be a touchstone in electronic music, sending its tunes to songs on the LCD Soundsystem and Coldplay.

In 1981, computers were dense, immovable devices. Our current relationship with these machines is hard to anticipate given their capabilities at that time. Still, in Computer World, Kraftwerk offers a closer look at our modern connected lifestyles: An environment where technology is so advanced that sometimes we have to remove ourselves to experience the joys of being human.

With the “data dates” we’ve met, our “pocket calculators” are always about to arrive, rarely a single moment spent offline. Maybe there’s a lesson in the incandescent texture inside Computer World. If we take it as a whole, the album represents a techno-utopia, a future unlike ours, where harmony is achieved between the physical world and the digital.

Computer World Artwork:





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