Album Review: Karl Bartos


Karl Bartos -‘Off The Record’ (Bureau B)

Karl Bartos was one quarter of what is regarded as the classic line-up of Kraftwerk between 1975-1990. Whilst his former bandmates are touring the classic albums (and bringing the Tate’s box office into meltdown), he has given the world a new album.

Does it sound like Kraftwerk? Well, yes it does, and to be honest, I think most people would be disappointed if it didn’t. And when the sound that he helped create laid the blueprint for so much of what happened (let’s see: house, hip-hop and electro, post-punk, techno…this could be a whole PhD thesis, and in fact it probably is), then why not?

The reason for the name of the album is that during Kraftwerk’s heyday he kept what the press release describes as a ‘secret acoustic diary.’ This consisted of melodies, chord, sounds and the like which has produced these twelve new songs.

Given that this could have end up with an album that felt like half-baked doodles from the cutting room floor (and these are frequently served up to the world as ‘mixtapes’ now), it’s all the more impressive that this holds together as a coherent album. Whilst I personally could pass on ‘Vox Humana’ , there’s s much on offer here – opening track ‘Atomium’, ‘ International Velvet’ and ‘Without A Trace Of Emotion’ that feel like glorious POP songs.

This could have felt like a difficult album, so kudos is due once again to Herr Bartos for producing such a strong, listenable and enjoyable record.


Off The Record is released on Bureau B on March 18.