Right from the first notes of Die Roboter (The Robots) you can tell there’s something a little bit different about The Mix. After five years of silence, Kraftwerk reappeared with something absolutely brilliant, eleven of their classic tracks, self-remixed, as The Mix.
As a self-re-evaluation (if only that were a word), it’s quite brilliant. Some tracks aren’t quite as good as the originals; others are just as good; and surprisingly, a few are actually better. One of those is Die Roboter – always good, but now transformed into a tantalisingly inhuman nine minute electronic exploration. Truly exceptional.
Then comes Computer Liebe (Computer Love), less melancholic than the original, but much more approachable in simple pop terms. If you’re looking for the essential version of this track, there’s a good case to make that this might be it.
The best represented album on this collection is Computerwelt, and the third and fourth tracks are also from there, Taschenrechner (Pocket Calculator) and its Japanese partner Dentaku, the latter not otherwise widely available. The pocket calculator may not have quite made that noise previously, but it sounds pretty good nevertheless. The inclusion of Dentaku as a second part is a bit strange, but it seems to still be doing well as a live favourite.
The new version of Autobahn is interesting – it’s definitely a good fifteen years or so more contemporary than the original, but there’s something slightly uncomfortable about it too, as though it doesn’t quite fit in its new surroundings. The addition of the central section (the repeated “do the fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn” when they turn the radio on) is particularly fantastic though.
Just as good as the original version is the new version of Radioaktivität. Gone are the deep haunting choir and the darkness, and yet somehow it’s still every bit as spooky as the original. It’s no longer a celebration, either – the original talked at length about Marie Curie, whereas now it’s all about death and pain. The single spawned some great remixes by long-time collaborator François Kevorkian and William Orbit too.
The updated trio of Trans Europa Express, Abzug, and Metall auf Metall are less convincing than the originals, and are rare examples of tracks on this album where you find yourself wondering slightly why they bothered – all the charm and expression seem to have been edited out, and replaced with slightly better synced drums but not a lot else. Then Heimcomputer, now incorporating elements of It’s More Fun to Compute, is a good combination, but relatively little has been changed from the original. And finally, Music Non Stop is fun, but ultimately it’s every bit as dull as it was on the original Electric Café (Techno Pop) album.
So The Mix does fall apart a little towards the end, but if you’re looking for a comprehensive Kraftwerk collection, this would be a good place to find it – it’s still every bit as contemporary as it was in 1991, while some of the earlier albums have dated less well. It may only really include eight of their greatest hits, but it’s a great album even so.
As with all of their albums, do yourself a favour and buy the German version, available on import from here.