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July 28, 1981 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-07-28

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The MichiganDaily-Tuesday, July 28,.1981,Rage 9

Music for computer games

(Continued from Page 7)
graphics timed to coincide with the
polished electronic sounds that bounce
from speaker to speaker.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, the audience is
stunned into a nearly stuporous con-
dition by this overwhelming commer-
cial for wholesale mechanization. Kraf-
twerk seem a little taken aback by this;
Ralf Hutter reminds us at one point that
the large wooden area where- a. good
portion of the audience is seated is sup-
posed to be a dance floor.
And danceable is their music. From
the opening thuds of "Numbers," I
knew this was going to be one of the
most danceable concerts I'd ever wit-
nessed. Live, Kraftwerk replace the
cerebral, flat sound of their albums
with earthquake-like bass and high-hat
zaps that can nail your eardrums
together.
Their command of sound is such that
during "The Robots" they produced
this crazy little call-response interplay
between a bass frequency that used
your entire chest cavity as a resonator
and a midrange tone that made your
body hair vibrate like it was under the
control of a static charge. In fact, the .
bass riffs were often felt more than
heard, producing a curious Sen-
surround-like trembling in the lining of
the stomach.
BUT THEIR demeanor did nothing
to encourage us to get physically, in-
volved wth their music; their imper-
turbable composure could have easily
been mistaken for catatonia.

Only through Hutter did we receive
any permission to react to Kraftwerk's
music in any fashion but cerebral. As
the audience sat quietly-as you're
supposed to do in the presence of
Art-Hutter seemed anxious to convey
in his funky swaying that it was also
okay to relate to their music as Fun.
And eventually, the crowd began to
respond in kind. From the start, their
reactions had been ecstatic. . . but
cautiously reserved to the use of their
hands in the polite space between num-
bers. Then their hands began to
respond freely (and more Thyth-
mically) during the dance tunes. By the
end of the show, a good portion of the
feet in the audience were also respon-
ding.
BUT KRAFTWERK never really
broke through their impersonally
business-like airs until the first encore
when they came out from behind their
imposing synthesizer banks to actually
play "Pocket Calculator" on hand-held
consoles. By this time, even Florian
Schneider-the other mastermind
(besides Hutter) behind Kraftwerk and
the most stolid of the four-was getting
some obviously devious pleasure out of
the cartoonish sprung spring sound that
he was generating. They even interact-
ed with the audience at this point,
allowing some ofthem to contribute to
the song.
Nevertheless, it wasn't until the third
and final encore that they really let
randomness run rampant as they jam-

med in a rabidly erratic fashion, oc-
casionally tangling in each others
dissonance, but always able to rely on
the prerecorded rhythm tracks to keep
them on course.
Though by the end the argument
seemed irrelevant, Kraftwerk felt
compelled to remind us one final time
that they consider themselves to be more
technicians than musicians. As they left
the stage one by one, their equipment
continued to sputter furiously syn-
copated dance rhythms.
I REMAINED unconvinced,
however. Kraftwerk's ability to wrench
qualities like humor, funkiness,
passion, and spontaneity out of reluc-
tant little black boxes qualifies them as
"musicians" as far as I'm concerned.
The fact that their musical tools are
devoid of expressive range per se - and
so hardly "instruments" at all, but
machines-capable of understanding
only on and off, sound and silen-
ce-makes their work as musiciAns

doubly impressive.
I still wonder, though, why they seem
so reserved about it. No doubt it's a
"concept" or something-constructing
and then destroying the barriers of
alienation, considering technology a toy
that ultimately changes the meaning of
fun, or some such nonsense. Not only do
I find that idea relatively irrelevant to
their music, I worry that they may go
too far with it. Having already created
androids in their own image in order to
(yet again) make the point that they
are incidental, expendable accessories
to their own show, the obvious next step
is for Kraftwerk to find some way to
replace the audience. I can just see it
now-a dance floor crammed with
hydraulic legs leading up to metallic
derrieres bumping and grinding in per-
fect synchronization to an endless,
computerized beat. It's hard to tell
whether that would be Kraftwerk's
ultimate triumph or their ultimate self-
trivialization.

DAILY CLASSIFIEDS
(Continued from Page8)
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PUT 'EM AWAY
If you can livewithout
your cigarettes for one
day, you might find you
iaget can live without them
forever
JUST FOR A DAY.
A concert of
FRENCH BMROQUE
VOCAL 01D
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
featuring works by
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Frangois Couperin
performed by students and faculty of a
Performance Workshop in French Music, 1680-1730
sponsored by The Academy for the Study and Performance of Early Music
in cooperation with the U-M School of Music
The University of Michigan
Museum of Art
Friday, July 31, at 8 p.m.
ADMISSION FREE

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