Kraftwerk – Autobahn Quadraphonic
review by Garry Seymour 29.03.2004
Kraftwerk have to be, for me anyway, the most influential
and inspirational band ever. Bar non.
My stance in an argument is that “If it wasn’t for Kraftwerk,
you wouldn’t have the music you have today… YESSSSS! Even RnB!”
that is Kraftwerk, artists such as Jean Michel Jarre, Gary Numan, Human League,
OMD, Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode and John Foxx wouldn’t
have thought “I know…lets get loads of synths
and bleep our way to the charts”; without these artists, other artists
such as 2Unlimited (!), Prodigy, Massive Attack, Underworld, The Shamen, NIN and Chas and Dave (maybe I lied about the last
one, but you never know!) wouldn’t have followed suit. Other somewhat
less electronic bands have also cited “The Werk”
as one of their influences.
a doubt, Autobahn is the most coveted album in my collection (along with Computerworld)
and, after receiving a copy of the DTS Quadraphonic mix, I thought I would
review this masterpiece. Now, I am no expert reviewer so I will probably ramble
on somewhat so bear with me on this.
O.K children, lets begin…
Firstly, about the mix itself. From what I
can gather it is from an 8-trak Quad recording and has been transferred to
DTS. This mildly reflects in the mix with just a small amount of hiss and
a minor distortion here or there. Although this gives it a little warmth,
it is also a tad annoying at times. If you aren’t expecting superb and
total clarity, you won’t be disappointed. On the other hand, if you
are expecting a crystal clear, typically Kraftwerk
sounding digital mix then… well, you’ll still enjoy it anyway.
onto the review…
– Quadraphonic DTS Mix.
As the disc was placed in my DVD player, I waited - palms sweaty, pulse
raised and a tiny churning in the pit of my stomach – for the CLUNK….
rrRRRRRRUUuumm. It did not disappoint. Dammit… there’s a car RIGHT BEHIND MY LEFT EAR!
Where’s it going now? Behind me to the right…
It’s THERE…IN FRONT OF ME. Wow!
After the initial excitement (and, yes, it was as described
above) I settled down to listen to the mix. As the music began I noticed that
the percussion was in the rear channels. The sub handled the kicks quite nicely
and kind of spread the percussion in an odd, but pleasing manner. In the first
section the main melody was in the Front and Rear Left and the sweeping pads
were on the right. The vocals were scattered amongst the four channels.
I hit the first bridge (excuse the pun) at 03.16 the “Car” sweeps
from Rear Left to Front Right as the drone builds on the Rear Right. The flute
flutters in the Front Right and the guitar twangs in the Front Left with the
percussion, as above, sitting in the “back seats”. Nice separation.
It also shows what they were trying to do with the original Quad mix –
use it as a show off piece.
The second verse runs pretty much as the first. Nice!
The second bridge (08.05) starts to get interesting as they play with
the white noise, the car noises and the Meep-Meep
noises. The cars mainly sweep from the left channels or the right channels:
almost as if you are standing on a central reservation with cars driving either
side of you. Front to back, back to front with the white noise rhythms flying
from Front Left to Rear Left. The Boinggg-Boinggg
bass sits comfortably in the fronts. As it hits the 11.00 min mark, the drone
keyboard fades into the Rear Right channel. The main melody sits in the two
left channels with an underlying drone hanging in the right channels. Percussion to the rear as normal.
At 14.07 we are treated to a nice split vocal effect with the main
vocals sitting at the Front Right and Rear Left channels, the vocoder vocal on the Front Left channel and the muffled vocal
somewhere between centre and right pan.
At 15.40 things slow down a bit and we get a bit more split vocal.
The low vox to the left two channels and
the higher vox to the right two channels.
The bass throbs warmly in the Rear Right channel, just leaking into the Front
Right a tad.
Things speed up at 16.30 and we have a mish-mash of swirling melodies
and noises. The arpeggio kind of wanders around the quad
spectrum; as does the white noise snare. A nice pan effect washes from
Front Left to Right and back again with a couple of melodies playing in its
own channel at the front.
As we reach the finale, we come to a little gripe. A GRIPE, you ask? Yep indeedy. We have a dummy fade at around 21.00 for about
10 seconds or so. It just fades out and back in again!! FOR NO REASON! How
As the track reaches its final few notes, the arpeggio flits between
the Front Left and Right channels to the Rear Left and Right channels. And
here it is…the final note; a lovely synthy
car noise sweeping from Front Left to Rear Left. I’ve made it “auf
der autobahn”. Intact, at 200mph, with only
one or two accidents spotted. A wonderful experience that
I shall be repeating again and again…and again; no doubt annoying all
my friends and my wife. But, HEY…what the heck! It’s MY
Autobahn and I’ll damn well Fahr’n down it any flippin’
time I want!
for the rest of the album, the mixes seem to work quite well, with Morgenspaziergang
being the shining star of the mixes. Just about everything is floating everywhere.
A beautiful experience.
you have a chance to listen to this mix, please make sure you don’t
pass it up. Spread the word….And the word is AUTOBAHN, children.
p.s. How about Computerworld DTS for me to review…Anybody??
8Trak tape: Kraftwerk - Autobahn.
Photos taking by Chris (owner of tape):
Detail of tracklisting (4 times 10:52), note the weird splitting of the tracks.
Front and back cover of DTS CD release: