The Music of Kraftwerk, by the a group of lo-fi groups collectively known as the 8-Bit Operators, is more fun than any CD we’ve heard in ages.
8-Bit music is a fairly obscure genre of electronica. The 8-Bit operators, though, made a smart move, organizing many of the most influential 8-bit musicians together to create this compliation of Kraftwerk cover versions. The result sounds like Kraftwerk was hired in the 80’s to create soundtracks for early video games.
Several of the musicians on this CD have been pioneers of the genre. Johan Kotlinsk (Role Model) created the LittleSoundDJ tracking cartridge; Oliver Wittchow created Nanoloop, a cartridge for Gameboy sound creation.
The CD is a great introduction to 8-bit music. The music is very accessible, staying fairly true to the original Kraftwerk versions. Each artist approaches 8-bit music differently, though. Some use strictly 8-bit gear, so that you only have 3 or 4 voices, with no effects, while others add reverb and effect, and guitars and other instruments.
Though the different musicians bring a lot of stylistic approaches to the music, it also holds together well as a CD because of the source material and the common use of 8-bit gear.
Here’s a partial rundown of the gear the artists use:
- VARIOUS GAMEBOYS(GB Classic,Pocket,Color,Advance,SP, micro and DS)
- NAN0LOOP 1 & 2 for Gameboy
- COMMODORE 64
- SNES & NES
- SYNTHCART for ATARI 2600
- CYNTHCART for COMMODORE 64
- ELEKTRON SIDSTATION
- LSDJ (LittleSound DJ) for Gameboy
- midiNES for NES
- POCKET MUSIC for GB COLOR, GBA & MusicGenerator for PS1
- ELECTROPLANKTON for Gameboy DS
- GAMEBOY CAMERAS including secret synth
- STYLOVOX Vocoder setup
- VARIOUS circuit-bends ( furbies, speak & spell…)
The music is a lot of fun – not only does it bring back memories of playing ancient video games, but it’s fun as an alternate-universe take on Kraftwerk.
At its best, the music also reveals hidden depths to some of Kraftwerk’s music. For example, the lyrics of Showroom Dummies, which seem to tell the tale of mannequins that come to life in the original, have a fatalistic sense in Role Model’s cover, as if all of us are nothing more than showroom dummies.
All in all – it’s a smart project. By bringing together a group of 8-bit artists and taking on some electronica classics, they’re likely to get more attention than they would have otherwise. But even more important, the music is just a lot of fun.
You can preview the 8-Bit Operators at their label site.
- The Robots (Die Roboter) – Bacalao
- Pocket Calculator – Glomag
- Computer Love – Covox
- Showroom Dummies – Role Model
- The Model – Nullsleep
- Radioactivity – David E. Sugar
- Kristallo – Oliver Wittchow
- Spacelab – 8-Bit Weapon
- Computer World (Computerwelt) – FirestARTer
- Electric Cafe – Neotericz
- Trans-Europe Express – Receptors
- Tanzmuzik – Herbert Weixelbaum
- It’s More Fun To Compute – Bubblyfish
- Antenna – Bit Shifter
- The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine) – GwEm And Counter Reset