Home Read Classic Album Review: Kraftwerk | Tour de France Soundtracks

Classic Album Review: Kraftwerk | Tour de France Soundtracks

The German electronica pioneers finally saddle up again to expand their 1983 EP.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


There was a time when Kraftwerk were so far ahead of the pack they were practically running a different race.

Back in the ’70s when they were essentially inventing electronica and synth-pop with tracks like Autobahn, nobody could keep up with them. Since then, however, the sound they spawned has caught up and passed them by — mostly due to the fact that the K-men have been essentially coasting for more than a decade. With Tour de France Soundtracks, they finally make a belated return to recording. Sort of. Essentially a large-scale expansion of their 1983 Tour de France EP, this 55-minute journey is a musical travelogue through a mesmerizing landscape of percolating synths, lightly scritchy beatboxes, smoothly gliding grooves, knob-twiddling production and the familiar bike-chain and heavy-breathing samples. But while it’s a nice nostalgic treat for fans, it’s neither nearly as catchy nor as groundbreaking as their earlier work. If Kraftwerk want to be the pacesetters once again, they’re going to have to shift into a higher gear.