Radio-Activity

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Radio-Activity
Kraftwerk Radio Activity album cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 1975 (1975-10)
Recorded1975
StudioKling Klang (Düsseldorf, West Germany)
Genre
Length37:38
Label
Producer
Kraftwerk chronology
Autobahn
(1974)
Radio-Activity
(1975)
Trans-Europe Express
(1977)
2009 Edition
2009 remastered edition cover
2009 remastered edition cover
Singles from Radio-Activity
  1. "Radioactivity"
    Released: 1976

Radio-Activity (German title: Radio-Aktivität) is the fifth studio album by German electronic band Kraftwerk, released in October 1975. The band's first entirely electronic album, it is a concept album organized around the themes of radioactive decay and radio communication.[2]

The album was accompanied by a single release of the title track, which was successful in France. To cater to the band's international audience, all releases of the album were bilingual, with lyrics in both English and German.

Background[edit]

The hyphenated album title displays Kraftwerk's typical deadpan humour, being a pun on the twin themes of the songs, half being about radioactivity and the other half about activity on the radio. More word plays are evident in the track listing: "Radio Stars", which as a title could refer to pop stars, but upon listening is revealed to be about quasars and pulsars.

This was the first Kraftwerk album to be entirely self-produced by Ralf Hütter and Schneider in their Kling Klang studio, and the first one to be performed by the "classic" Hütter, Florian Schneider, Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür line-up. All the music was written by Hütter and Schneider, with Emil Schult collaborating on lyrics. Schult also designed the artwork – a modified illustration of a late-1930s 'Deutscher Kleinempfänger' radio.

It was the first Kraftwerk album to feature use of the distinctive Vako Orchestron keyboard (choir, string and organ sounds), which the group had purchased on their recent US Autobahn tour and the Moog Micromoog which was used extensively on this album. Notably, it provided the harsh sounds on the track "Antenna". The band's custom-built electronic percussion also featured heavily in the sound, and extensive use was made of the vocoder. The usual synthesizers were present (including Minimoog and ARP Odyssey), and Hütter's Farfisa electronic piano made a return on "Transistor". For the first time the group did not use flute, violin or guitars.

By 1975, Hütter and Schneider's previous publishing deals with Capriccio Music and Star Musik Studio of Hamburg had expired. The compositions on Radio-Activity were published by their own newly set up Kling Klang Verlag music publishing company, giving them greater financial control over the use of songwriting output. Also, the album was the first to bear the fruit of Kling Klang as an established vanity label under the group's new licensing deal with EMI. The album reached No.59 in Canada, in February 1976.

The title track "Radioactivity" was released as a single, and became a hit in France after it was used as the theme to a popular music show. The song was later re-recorded by Kraftwerk for their 1991 album The Mix. It was further remixed, for subsequent single release, by William Orbit and François Kevorkian.

Composition[edit]

"The British painter David Hockney once said: 'People who understand music understand silence,' and the LP is full of moments when the music drifts to almost nothing, or is slowed so that the spaces between beats are exaggerated. Radio-Activity is sonically muted, at times fragile and beautiful."[3]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]
Drowned in Sound8/10[4]
The Guardian3/4 stars[5]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[6]
Mojo4/5 stars[7]
Q4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[9]
Select4/5[10]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[11]
Uncut4/5 stars[12]

Radio-Activity was released to mixed reviews, with Rolling Stone criticizing the album: "... no cut on the album comes near the melodic/harmonic sense that pervaded Autobahn or the creative use of electronics on the much earlier album Ralf and Florian".[13]

In a retrospective review, Jason Ankeny from AllMusic called the album "a pivotal record in the group's continuing development" and stated that it "marked Kraftwerk's return to more obtuse territory, extensively utilizing static, oscillators, and even Cage-like moments of silence".[2] Chris Power from Drowned in Sound praised it for the experimental feeling in 2009: "A bridge between electronic experimentalism and the powerful, groundbreaking unification of avant-garde form and catchy, commercial function that was just around the corner, Radio-Activity is the sound of Kraftwerk finding their way in a strange new landscape that they were in the very process of creating".[4]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Geiger Counter" ("Geigerzähler")1:07
2."Radioactivity" ("Radioaktivität")
6:42
3."Radioland"
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Schult
5:50
4."Airwaves" ("Ätherwellen")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Schult
4:40
5."Intermission" ("Sendepause")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
0:39
6."News" ("Nachrichten")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
1:17
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
7."The Voice of Energy" ("Die Stimme der Energie")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Schult
0:55
8."Antenna" ("Antenne")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Schult
3:43
9."Radio Stars" ("Radio Sterne")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Schult
3:35
10."Uranium" ("Uran")
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
  • Schult
1:26
11."Transistor"
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
2:15
12."Ohm Sweet Ohm"
  • Hütter
  • Schneider
5:39

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Peter Bollig – technical engineer (Kling Klang Studio, Düsseldorf)
  • Walter Quintus – sound mix engineer (Rüssl Studio, Hamburg)
  • Robert Franke – photography
  • Emil Schult – artwork
  • Johann Zambryski – artwork reconstruction (2009 Remaster)

[14]

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[15] 94
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[16] 4
France (SNEP)[17] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[18] 22
US Billboard 200[19] 140

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[21] Gold 421,400[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rubin, Mike (4 December 2009). "Who Knew That Robots Were Funky?". The New York Times. ISSN 1553-8095. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Ankeny, Jason. "Radio-Activity – Kraftwerk". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  3. ^ Buckley, David (13 July 2015). Kraftwerk: Publikation. Music Sales Limited. ISBN 9781783236183.
  4. ^ a b Power, Chris (12 October 2009). "Album Review: Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity: Remastered". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  5. ^ Sweeting, Adam (14 April 1995). "CDs of the week: Kraftwerk reissues". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077.
  6. ^ Clayton-Lea, Tony (30 October 2009). "Kraftwerk: Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978) (Mute/EMI)". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  7. ^ Snow, Mat (November 2009). "Gut Vibrations". Mojo. No. 192. London. p. 110. ISSN 1351-0193.
  8. ^ "Kraftwerk: Radio-Activity". Q. London. p. 116. ISSN 0955-4955. [A] conceptual piece that diverted Kraftwerk's music into monochrome retro-futurism...
  9. ^ Coleman, Mark; Randall, Mac (2004). "Kraftwerk". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 468–69. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  10. ^ Harrison, Andrew (June 1995). "Kraftwerk: Radio Activity / Man Machine / Computer World / The Mix". Select. No. 60. London. ISSN 0959-8367.
  11. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1995). "Kraftwerk". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 215–16. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  12. ^ Cavanagh, David (16 October 2009). "Uncut reviews: Kraftwerk – Reissues". Uncut. London. ISSN 1368-0722. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  13. ^ Ward, Ed (12 February 1976). "Radio-Aktivitat". Rolling Stone. New York. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  14. ^ Radio-Activity (Digital Remaster) (CD). Kraftwerk. Great Britain: Mute Records. 2009. CDSTUMM304.CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 170. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kraftwerk – Tour de France Soundtracks" (in German). Hung Medien.
  17. ^ Buckley, David (13 June 2015). Kraftwerk: Publikation. ISBN 9781783236183.
  18. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH.
  19. ^ "Kraftwerk Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  21. ^ "French album certifications – Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.

External links[edit]