Kraftwerk | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Kraftwerk 

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I always assumed Kraftwerk's celebrations of the union of man and machine were supposed to be dystopian: pairing the line "We are the robots" with the Russian phrases for "I'm your slave" and "I'm your worker" seemed like a pretty clear statement. But after a 1991 remix album, core members Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider fell silent for years, disappearing into an obsession with cross-country cycling--and when they finally did release another full-length in 2003, it was hardly a glimpse into a soulless mechanized future. Tour de France Soundtracks kicks off with four remixes of the programmatic 1983 single "Tour de France," closes with the original track, and fills in the middle with new songs about the glorious union of human and bicycle. I get a kick from the album's relentless, motion-addicted digital churn, which does for cycling what "Autobahn" did for road-tripping, but it's tough to argue with fans who complain that Kraftwerk ended a 12-year slumber by reworking a 20-year-old idea. Yeah, the new material is low on hooks, and the album's structure is perilously slight. But Kraftwerk's appeal isn't so much in their pop craftsmanship as in the deliciously weird state of mind the music can induce, and which Tour de France Soundtracks sustains throughout: you're alert, aroused, amused, and nervous, like you're sitting on a washing machine after four cups of espresso. There's no opening act. Sat 6/4, 9 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages.

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