Kraftwerk singles are a rare enough treat, but it’s only in recent years (and by that, I mean perhaps the last two decades or so) that I think you would be able to safely regard them as a full single package. With Aerodynamik, I think you could argue that they reached their pinnacle.
Fans had been somewhat divided over album Tour de France Soundtracks (2003), but this single, now with a slightly tweaked title (on the album it’s Aéro Dynamik) and released fifteen years ago this week, was better received – although you would be pushed to notice this from its chart performance, as it peaked at just number 33 in the UK – although that far eclipsed its German performance, where it hit just number 80.
Key to the single is the new Kling Klang Dynamix version, Kraftwerk‘s own seven-minute remix with heavily reworked drums and percussive sounds. You would, of course, have to appreciate the original, but I suspect most people did, as it’s clearly one of the standout tracks on Tour de France Soundtracks. Having established that, even just an extended version would be great – but this is more than just expansive – it’s a comprehensive rework of the original, while still entirely in the same spirit – it’s absolutely brilliant. Before that, though, we had already had a taster with the Kling Klang Radio Mix, a four-minute edit of the Dynamix, which is exceptional too.
Another nice thing that happened with Kraftwerk was their embracing of remix culture from the early 1980s onwards – it almost feels out of character for them, given how purist they have become about their own music, but a small group of artists have been let loose on their catalogue, and they have created, pretty much without exception, wonderful versions. Hopefully one day, the Düsseldorf quartet will formalise these versions in a remix album – I’ll be at the front of the queue.
To prove my point, the brilliant Alex Gopher and Étienne de Crécy turn up for the third version on this single, the Dynamik Mix, adding some wonderful eccentricities – the drums are a bit more metallic, and are augmented by some nice woodblock usage, but the key to the mix is the enormous acid synth arpeggio that runs all the way through. At the risk of repeating myself, this is exceptional too. For Kraftwerk to have returned the preceding year after twelve years of silence with material this good is very impressive.
Closing the release sees longtime Kraftwerk remixer François Kevorkian turn up for his Aero Mix, a broader and more expansive take on the track. Like all of François’s Kraftwerk remixes, it’s a subtle reworking, almost a dub mix or a “part two” version at times, with relatively few new sounds, but it’s always good to have his take on a track. If I had to choose, I’d say that of these remixes I probably like this one the least, but there’s really nothing in it – his is a typically subtle reworking of some great material.
So if you buy any Kraftwerk singles, I can provide a list of which you should track down, but this one should be high on the list. It would be a full three years before the next single, which ironically saw Aerodynamik coming out again, this time as a double a-side with La Forme, remixed by Hot Chip, and in a bright green neon sleeve.
The CD version of Aerodynamik is hard to find now, but the digital release is widely available.