Buenos Aires fans of electronic music legends Kraftwerk were beside themselves last week when it was announced that an upcoming 3-D show was cancelled as a result of a city-wide ban on electronic music events that “use synthesizers or samplers as their primary instrument.”
Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta brought the edict into effect after six drug-related deaths at the Argentinian edition of Time Warp earlier held in April.
Not willing to take the cancelation lying down, the show’s promoters, Move Concerts, successfully demonstrated to a local court the group’s historical importance in the canon of popular music and that the show was a concert, not a party. The show will take place as scheduled on November 23.
No, it’s not some sort of musical fairytale or geeky daydream, it actually happened just a couple of days ago. German synth sultans Kraftwerk, had a face-to-face encounter with the holy trinity of Detroit techno, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins, popularly known as The Belleville Three. Kraftwerk, who are on tour in America, had come to the Motor City to perform at the Masonic Temple Theatre. But apparently, after they rearranged the heads of many Detroit fans with their performance, there was still more excitement to come.
An after-party took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and Saunderson, Atkins and May mixed it up with Ralf Hütter and others, making for a historic moment in electronic music. It’s the sort of what-if moment that’s probably been imagined by fans millions of times, but there it was real as life. Now if only it were possible to convince the two crews to make a record together!
The recent story about an academic contest at Dartmouth College seems like the sort of thing that probably fills Kraftwerk‘s dreams at night. The aim is to determine whether computers can create art as convincingly as humans. And in addition to portions of the challenge devoted to the literary and visual arts, there will be one dedicated to pursuing the possibility of a computer putting together its own DJ set. In the words of Dan Rockmore, director of the school’s Neukom Institute for Computational Science, “Historically, often when we have advances in artificial intelligence, people will always say, ‘Well, a computer couldn’t paint a sunset,’ or ‘a computer couldn’t write a beautiful love sonnet,’ but could they? That’s the question.”
Actually the question is not whether computers are capable of being DJs, but whether the difference between a human DJ and a computerized one is discernible to human ears. That’s what will really be judged over the course of the contest, as people are challenged to identify which is which. The process will take place over the course of the next school year, and prizes will be given out in April. For the music portion of the contest, there will be six computerized finalists featured in a showdown with flesh-and-blood DJs in a real-time dance party. The winner walks out with $3,000. (And maybe a contract with Kompakt Records?)
Pioneering electronic music masters Kraftwerk, formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970 in Düsseldorf and famous for producing classic albums such as Trans-Europe Express and The Man-Machine, have announced they’re bringing their 3-D concert experience back to North America in the fall.
Over the course of a 12-city run taking place between September and October, the German electro icons will perform in cities they haven’t visited before during their highly influential 30+ year career. (See full tour dates below.)
Tickets for the tour go on sale Friday, May 8 at 10:00 am.
Kraftwerk 2015 Tour Dates:
09/16 – Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
09/17 – Calgary, AB @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
09/19 – Portland, OR @ Keller Auditorium
09/23 – Denver, CO @ Ellie Caulkins Opera House
09/25 – Austin, TX @ Bass Concert Hall
09/27 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
09/29 – Miami, FL @ Olympia Theater at Gusman Center
10/02 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
10/03 – Boston, MA @ Wang Theatre
10/05 – Detroit, MI @ Masonic Temple Theatre
10/07 – Minneapolis, MN @ Northrop
10/09 – Kansas City, MO @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland