With a guest list full of surprises, from Carl Cox to Midge Ure, Kraftwerker’s celebration of all things electronic has wit and charm at its disposalThe news can be full of apprehension and depression these days, but not for Wolfgang Flür. “Read all about it! Breaking news from every nation!” announces the cheerful voice at the start of Magazine 1. It’s sometimes Kraftwerker Flür’s brilliant new solo album, on which he is trumpeted as techno pop’s oldest veteran. The record-breaking arrival is akin to that of a sleek new car, its incredibly well-polished German construction, ready to dazzle with an array of new features and technology.
Flür’s model, however, has wit and charm at its disposal. The music can be deadpan and serious at times, but Magazine 1 gives the common impression that it was a lot of fun to do. The fruit of two years of work with a regular collaborator Pete Duggal, it also features a star-studded guest list of electronic music royalty. It’s smiley music, a celebration of all things electronic – and Flür brings a healthy mix of past, present and future to his lyrics. There may be references to GPS, but they’re executed with the stark innocence of someone who was making music when color television was introduced.
Best Buy, the second of three titles with U96, is a lot of fun. The deadpan rhymes, friendly chatter, and lively arcade-style beats are handled brilliantly, and it all turns pleasantly manic with hysterical price comparisons and gruesome laughs. As well as recalling Kraftwerk at their most witty, Flür has the charm and sophistication of Yellow stake.
The guest list is full of surprises, but overall Flür is making the most of his electronic music royalty. Discoveries of Birmingham Propaganda singer Claudia Bruecken telling a story above the bubbling synthesizers and ever-elastic bass guitar of Stone Hook. “Join me in the West Midlands,” she begs. Night Drive tells an equally captivating story with Anouchkaobsessed with “driving at 4am”.
There’s a surprise appearance on Das Beat in the form of Gnat, who was persuaded by Flür to write the lyrics when the two met backstage at a concert in Düsseldorf. the old Ultravox The singer indulges in Flür’s humor, happy to tell “the city of London… where the girls are pretty” on a chaotic rhythm and spacious synthesizers. Also seated at Flür’s head table are techno royalty, John Atkins and Carl Cox. The former brings a mechanical presence to Billionaire, “playing a symphony of light”, while the latter joins U96 on Electric Sheep. “People may be scared of me, but I’m nice! launches the ironic protest on another of Flür’s smiling compositions.
The atmosphere changes for the final title Say No, which has a consistent canvas expanding the sound image thanks to Maps Chief James Chapman. The grandeur of the sound suggests that we have gone to the window of Flür’s studio and are gazing at the world beyond. There’s also a low undertone that resonates long after the sounds have faded away. “If tomorrow you are told that you will not sing songs of love, but songs of hate, then there is only one thing to do: say no!
Almost half a century after Kraftwerk created Autobahn, one of their bandmates looks like he’s having even more fun than he did back then. If robots are truly to inherit the earth, then Wolfgang Flür is more than ready for their arrival.