Every now and again a Clan Analogue artist presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.
Here Melbourne’s synth virtuoso Michael Mildren presents a playlist of his pick of the best covers of Kraftwerk songs. There have been many attempts to cover the work of German electronic pioneers, however Michael Mildren is in a unique position to assess the quality of all the efforts so far. In 2017 he released the first of his Process series of albums – Process 1: Studies in Kraft. This release was the the product of Michael’s intense study of the classic 1970s work of Kraftwerk, resulting in his recreation of 11 of their tracks with exacting sound design and 70s electronic music performance practice. And let’s not forget that he performed the whole set live with vintage gear in show Men/Machine in the Melbourne Fringe.
So, what are the best versions of Kraftwerk’s songs around, according to Michael?
Señor Coconut – Showroom Dummies
I first heard this when I was playing a piano-bar gig at Claypots Bar in St Kilda. I had a Saturday residency for 3½ years and this was my song of choice to play on the iMac playlist when I finished at midnight. I think it captures the spirit of Kraftwerk minimilism very cleverly.
Eric Wøllo – In the Hall of Mirrors
This is a nice hypnotic piece, again, faithful to Kraftwerk. Their music is perfect for acoustic instruments, and gives even classical musicians something to work with. I’d like to see a film that used this as its soundtrack.
Balenescu Quartet – Computer Love
Sounds like Steve Reich at first, as it should, then turns a bit twee, but still worth a listen. A full orchestra version could be nice for this classic love/pop song.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hall of Mirrors
A bit of New Wave nostalgia. Maybe skip if you don’t enjoy the aesthetic…
Michael Mildren – Computer World
One of my favourite songs of Kraftwerk, and one that I had fun rendering. The piano line is played on my old monophonic Roland SH1000 and I used the French version of Texas Instruments Language Tutor, which I got from Palm Beach Queensland, via eBay.
Yoshihiro Hayashi – It’s More Fun to Compute
Nice sounds in this, it moves along nicely.
8-bit Arcade – Franz Schubert
In 1983, I walked through a games arcade recording the incredible collage of sounds on a walkman. I’ve always loved the directness of this computer generated music. 20 years later, my son Max was making chip-tunes with his Gameboy.
Snakefinger – The Model
If it’s good enough for Snakefinger, it’s good enough for me. I bought his solo album on cassette in 1982. Demented Hawaiian holiday music.
Michael Mildren – Neon Lights
Another song I used to play sometimes on piano at piano bar, this was the first song I rendered for my Kraftwerk collection. The manually played harpsichord vamp was made on an old Italian Elgam Montreal Electric Piano (now defunct). Other equipment on this track: Roland SVC350 vocoder, EM101, SH1000, Korg MS20, Arturia MicroBrute.
Kraftwerk – Ohm Sweet Ohm
At this point I’m thinking we need to hear some actual Kraftwerk, for reference. The best instrumental they did (almost). Very catchy and meditative. Another should-be soundtrack theme.
Bubblyfish – It’s More Fun to Compute
Nice to hear how other musicians tackle Kraftwerk music. This is kind of cool.
David E. Sugar – Radioactivity
Okay, nice cheap-bit sounds, nothing like the original but good muzak anyway.
Hebert Weixelbaum – Tanzmusik
Here’s a nice short doco on youtube that features this song at the end
Kraftwerk – Franz Schubert/ Europe Endless
Maybe I could have a small solar-powered sound system built into my gravestone with this on endless loop….just quietly.
Michael Mildren will be playing at Clan Analogue’s Analogue Processes on Saturday the 22nd of September at Swamplands in Thornbury as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.