Kraftwerk Awakes From Slumber To Revisit “Heimcomputer” 40 Years Later

40 years of “Computerworld” have gone under the bridge

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.

post-punk monk buy button

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.

-30-

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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12 Responses to Kraftwerk Awakes From Slumber To Revisit “Heimcomputer” 40 Years Later

  1. Bridget says:

    Let me know where I can find that vinyl in Germany for you and I’ll ship it to you for American Postage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. negative1ne says:

    Mr. Monk,

    I jumped all over this the minute I saw this announced.
    Got the magazine and the yellow vinyl a few days ago.
    Yes, it’s odd that its one sided, but maybe that was to
    cut costs for the inclusion with the magazine, but the
    other 2 edits (which I have also) were like that also.

    I like the way it mirrors one of the earliest US releases (which is easy to find):
    pocket calculator / dentaku (yellow vinyl) in clear sleeve:
    https://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-Pocket-Calculator-Dentaku/release/96538

    the US 12 inch is a white colored sleeve.
    https://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-Pocket-Calculator-Dentaku/release/252009

    back to home computer, there was a brazilian 7 inch
    promo, which is expensive:
    https://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-Homecomputer/release/4563662

    and much later a UK promo 12 inch (which was also part
    of the boxset for Tribal Gathering):
    https://www.discogs.com/Kraftwerk-Homecomputer/release/65442

    Computerworld marked the watershed moment for me and Kraftwerk.
    It was the first CD I ever bought (longbox, which I still have), a year
    or so before owning a CD player. I bought the US LP, and played
    it many times, before transferring it to cassette. Its still my favorite
    album from them, and one of my all time favorites of all time.

    Every note and sound on this album is perfect. Now, I did get the
    German version much later on (both CD, and vinyl), and Japanese,
    and recently the French LP, which all have exclusive tracks and
    versions, and surprisingly my go to version is the German language
    one. For some reason it just sounds more natural in its native form.

    Its probably the only foreign language music that I listen to regularly
    along with the other German versions of Kraftwerks catalog.

    later
    -1

    Like

  3. negative1ne says:

    Mr. Monk,

    check your lyrics.
    the one is question is ‘Beam myself into the future’.

    This lyric along with the rest of the album is
    seared into my brain forever.

    later
    -1

    Like

  4. VersionCrazy says:

    Good news… the single edit of ‘Autobahn’ is available digitally – for example, check the Qobuz download store: https://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/album/autobahn-single-edit-kraftwerk/vq0zwlz7rxfra

    It’s interesting that for the two most recent such edits, Ralf Huetter has chosen to go back to the original recordings and not either the 3-D or ‘The Mix’ versions.

    As well as the edits and mix-in of portions from ‘It’s More Fun To Compute’ in this most recent edit, there is some nice sonics going on that have really beefed up the sound.

    On the subject of the German language edition and English language editions of the original 1981 ‘Computerwelt’/’Computer World’ editions – the mixes vary in a few places by more than just the vocal takes alone – most obvious spots are the ends of ‘Taschenrechner’/’Pocket Calculator’ and ‘Computerwelt 2’/’Computer World 2’.

    These days, what with the joys of curating your own personal playlist, my choice of ‘Computer World’ runs like this: ‘Computer World’ / ‘Pocket Calculator’ / ‘Nummern’ ‘/ Computerwelt 2’ / ‘Computer Love’ (UK 12″ Remix)* / ‘Home Computer’ / ‘It’s More Fun To Compute’. (* Vinyl rip, as it has never been issued on CD.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      VersionCrazy – I bought “Heimcomputer 2021” from the iTunes store as it’s my fallback if something’s not at Bandcamp; the preferred DL platform. I’ve never investigated the quobuz.com store in spite of hearing chatter about it online for some time, but when I clicked your link I got shunted into the US quobuz store with no “Autobahn” 7″ edit. Grrrrr. It’s why we hate DLs. They are COMPLETELY lawyer friendly. The only German language Kraftwerk CD I have is for “Trans Europa Express,” which I bought in the mid-80s when that was the first and only way to get that album on CD. My “Computerworld” CD is a WEA “target” edition, so it’s the flat transfer of the LP master. I should probably get the current German language remaster for the biggest sonic/musical difference. I still need that “Computerlove” 12″ but it’s pricey. Given that it’s the 40th anniversary, Ralf’s usage of the original master makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • iac4ad says:

        I wouldn’t recommend the 2009 remaster of Computer World – the CD at least is over-compressed to death. Too much rhythmic ‘pumping’ on those long, beautiful note fades in the title track, for example.

        With you on the digital downloads and the menace of regional restrictions. Learned a lesson now re qobuz.com and your experience with the Kraftwerk ‘Autobahn’ edit. Came across it’s like before with a Talking Heads bonus tracks and rarities compilation on iTunes that has some mixes I’d like, but not for sale in the UK.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          iac4ad – Ah, the Talking Heads “Bonus Rarities + Outtakes” DL comp! I keep forgetting about things like that because they are DLs. And therefore not “real” for me.
          talking heads

          Like

  5. jordan says:

    I remember to this day where I was when I first heard Computer World in 1981. It was like nothing I had heard before. It was the future then and 40 years later it is still the future. It is the album that lead me to a lifelong love of electronic music. I have the Computer Love 12” and always thought the music sounded a bit different to the LP version. I guess it was the remix part of it. I saw the Computer World tour ( and in my head I said at the time I can’t wait to see them live again. Little did I know it would be decades ) Unfortunately Kraftwerk set the bar so high that even they could never surpass it. Tour De France showed the way forward but they lost the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      jordan – That they even toured… with their studio in 1981 is a mind blower. I sure envy you there. I’ve loved this band since 1974 and have seen them go through many changes in that time. Things have happened that I could not have predicted. Namely, the band’s loss of drive and spirit. I wonder how much of that was down to Ralf’s accident. Head injuries can work in mysterious ways.

      Liked by 1 person

    • negative1ne says:

      Jordan,
      I do agree, that Computerworld is the peak for Kraftwerk. But Electric Cafe, and the Mix are still landmark albums. They have remained consistent, and are still much better than
      the vast majority of electronic bands out there.

      Only competing against yourself is hard, which is why its sometimes hard to live up to
      previous works. I would still put Man Machine up against many other bands, and maybe
      even Trans Europe Express, but that’s where it ends for me. Anything before that is
      still rudimentary for them.

      Some of the solo Karl Bartos projects were near Kraftwerk quality too. So maybe there
      will be more output in the future.

      I’ve seen Kraftwerk 3 times, in the last decade, and each time it was super impressive.
      2 of the shows were back to back (the 3-D tour), so that was a very interesting
      experience.

      later
      -1

      Like

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