Various Artists

8-Bit Operators

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In the worlds of synth-pop, techno, and hip-hop, Kraftwerk inspires the kind of reverence reserved for musical deities. That their influence extends to contemporary pop and has touched most aspects of modern production is testament that their music was years ahead of the curve. If the technology-driven prescience of albums like MAN MACHINE and COMPUTER WORLD evinced a tongue-in-cheek vision of a post-human future, Kraftwerk's numerous disciples have followed the band's technocratic ambitions to the letter. 8-BIT OPERATORS features interpretations of classic Kraftwerk songs created by a flourishing scene of musicians often described as "hardware hackers." Primarily created using hacked vintage video-game consoles, Kraftwerk's original gleaming futurism is replaced here by its bit-reduced, digitized mirror image.

Even the most robotic of Kraftwerk's songs contained a nostalgic longing for a simpler era of technology--think of the Fritz Lang-inspired "Metropolis." The tributes on 8-BIT OPERATORS share a similar penchant for the charms of obsolete technology. Featuring a myriad of bleeps and bloops, the versions here contain equal parts retro-fetishism and creative hacktivism. On Bacalao's rendition of "The Robots," the primitive synth melodies sound like they could be straight out of a Game Boy unit. Other acts, such as 8-Bit Weapon, hedge closer to the originals; their take on "Spacelab" is a sublime slice of vocoder-disco heaven. While Kraftwerk's vision of the future on albums like COMPUTER WORLD indicated their foresight, it's hard to imagine that even they would dream that their music would someday be created on home-brewed synth cartridges on hand-held Nintendo consoles.

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