Various Artists

Tribute to Kraftwerk: Cracking the Code

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Unlike many of the tributes in the Vitamin Records catalog, A Tribute to Kraftwerk: Cracking the Code is a quite serious. Instead of utilizing studio musicians to perform the pioneering German electronic group's tunes as Dixieland jazz, chamber music, or cocktail whimsy, Vitamin enlisted relatively unknown electronic artists -- themselves representatives of the genre Kraftwerk helped create -- to interpret 13 songs from the band's catalog. Milwaukee's Broke Box opts for a more percussive bottom end in their version of "Computer Love," but they retain the winsome melody of the original. Ambidextrous' addition of tabla drum on "The Model" is great, and Alex Xenophon's pulsating, whirring "Trans-Europe Express" suggests the robot ambience of Air. For the most part, however, the musicians involved in Cracking the Code don't distort their source material as much as they try to emulate the simplistic genius of Kraftwerk's still-evolving, often experimental equipment with modern musical implements. In that sense, this tribute might be a self-fulfilling prophecy of what Kraftwerk was trying to do. Fortunately, it's also a mildly entertaining one.

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