Kraftwerk and my new (outdated) obsession

I giddily attended the final concert of Kraftwerk’s week-long residency at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which kicked off the Minimalist Jukebox (a giant celebration/exploration of minimalism hosted by the LA Phil). Classical KUSC posted my review on their blog.

I’ve recently developed a rather insatiable thirst for both orchestral minimalism (à la Philip Glass) and European synthpop, and Kraftwerk is at the hip heart of the twain. It all started, basically, when I interviewed Hans Zimmer about Man of Steel last summer, where he mentioned how much his music (his “rock and roll” scores) is influenced by the likes of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, et al. Since I really like Zimmer in general, his comment sent me on a quest to discover the music of his influencers, and I’ve come across a few bands and albums that—with their retro ’80s synth effects and very of-their-era style—at an earlier point in my life I would have absolutely abhorred, and in the light of current day seem like they should be caveated as silly, guilty pleasures. But for some reason I am really tuned to the frequency of the signature sounds and beats of the decade of my birth (maybe that is the reason), and I’m gobbling up music by Giorgio Moroder, Alphaville, The Buggles, Pet Shop Boys, Vangelis, and of course Kraftwerk. (TRANS…EUROPE…EXPRESS.)

It definitely marks an evolution (or devolution if you prefer) in my tastes, both in the widening of my listening net beyond film music (perish the thought!) and my embrace of a “dated” style that I genuinely used to despise. Perhaps it’s a gesture of getting in touch with my roots, however unconscious and oblivious I was of the music on the radio in the first six years of my life. Is there something deeper than actual exposure (which I really didn’t have) that I’m responding to in my sudden hunger for the popular music of my childhood years? Am I inherently of my time in such a way that my aesthetic tastes would activate in the presence of the art of my time? If so, it’s certainly a limited frequency band, since I still don’t like a lot of the pop culture detritus burped up by the 1980s. Still: I do wonder if there’s something perhaps cosmic driving this new taste.

At any rate, I love listening to the primitive electronic rhythms and minimalistic chord patterns created by Kraftwerk and their ilk, and the recent concert was a rather glorious baptismal immersion into the font of those neon waters. My new obsession with the old unapologetically continues.