I can recall getting a copy of Kraftwerk’s 1981 opus, “Computerworld” as a high school graduation present. Since I already had a computer in my home by that time [Radio Shack CoCo with Extended Basic upgrade, if you’re asking] I took great delights in writing programs while playing this album on the stereo. Geek thrills don’t come much more potent than that.
At that time, the notion of a new Kraftwerk album following a year or two of R+D was an expected given, but little did we know then how that supposition would play out over the rest of out lifetimes. It’s forty years later and to date there have been only two albums of new material. And neither of them are when we would typify as “iconic.” For the most part, Kraftwerk, eventually down to Ralf + Florian and now, just Ralf have been using the decades to burnish their katalog and compulsively frame/reframe their legacy with a shocking amount of concert touring and prestige residency gigs at tony art museums. Occasionally, resulting in an artifact like this one.
A 40th anniversary edit of the German language version of “Homecomputer” by Ralf Hütter that has come with the June issue of Germany’s “Musikexpress” magazine. For readers not in Germany, there are still ample copies of the 7″, single sided, yellow vinyl single available directly from the magazine at what is undoubtedly a moderate price that will cost us plenty in a few years in the vinyl bubble aftermarket. So if you want one, it’s yours for only €13.80 [inc. postage] to any location in the world. That’s just $16.80, American. But act fast.
For those on a budget, the single is also available as a DL single, while coupled with the English language version of the track as a bonus B-side. True, the only lyric was
I program my home computer,
Bring myself into the future.Home Computer
But it’s attention to detail, which we certainly can’t fault Kraftwerk for lacking! Since I’m not invested in having a complete Kraftwerk collection on vinyl, I opted for the DL this morning to see what the fuss was all about. The original album mix was of a piece with the climactic track, “It’s More Fun To Compute” with both of the tracks sharing the same tempo and having almost a seamless segue mix. For this new 2021 edit, Mr. Hüter has obviously leaned hard on that prescient decision to make beat matching the songs as seamless as possible. Interpolating elements of the two songs together handily.
I have to say that it still sounds like amazing sound design in the synth programming that happened two generations [and forty computer generations…] ago. It didn’t sound like anything else then as Kraftwerk liked to have custom hardware modded by the synthesizer chop shops under their direction. Credit their vision for it still sounding futuristic forty years later. The “Computerworld” album always sounded like quicksilver to me. A fluid and liquid, yet somehow metallic construction like no other. Its electronics burbled with a vivid, lifelike quality.
This edit joins the other unique edits that Kraftwerk have supplied to Musikexpress Magazin for every two years now with a “Robots” edit in 2017, and an “Autobahn” edit in 2019. I’m slightly annoyed that this latest one is the only one available for a DL since I’m most interested in unique 7″ edits of “Autobahn” with the commercial US/UK attempts in house. I’d really be up for buying those two as well but might balk at the cost of getting the [surprisingly inexpensive] vinyl shipped to me from Germany. Let’s hope that someone at in the Kraftwerk mothership realizes that they had two more 7″ edits for Musikexpress that could join “Heimcomputer 2021” in the DL store of your choice.