Bicycling Music

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Anonymous's picture

"The pioneers of electronic music, Kraftwerk, just released their first album in 17 years. Seems they were busy cycling to make records. The new album is called ""Soundtrack: Tour de France"" and is the closest description, word, music or otherwise, to the essence of the cycling experience I've encountered. It is music only a true cyclist will really appreciate. I think it should be added to any cyclist's media collection along with The Road to Hell and Breaking Away. The following is an article about them from BBC:

Kraftwerk reveal cycling inspiration

Kraftwerk are famous for replacing themselves with robots on stage
Ralf Hutter, the co-founder of German music pioneers Kraftwerk, has broken a longterm media blackout to tell the BBC how the group's first studio album for 17 years was inspired by the Tour de France.
Although they rarely give interviews, Kraftwerk's early 1980s work arguably changed the face of pop music, influencing both electronic bands such as The Human League and Ultravox and then, later, the rave and techno music of the 1990s.

But Kraftwerk's other love - cycling - cost them half of the band, who quit because bikes became more important than music-making. The group's last studio album was released in 1986.

But suddenly after a gap of 17 years, a new album - Tour de France - has been released, inspired by their love of the great cycle race.

""We had the concept of the Tour de France album a little more than 20 years ago,"" the band's founder Ralf Hutter told BBC World Service's The Music Biz programme.

Kraftwerk have a fascination with the Tour de France
""At that time we were planning to do an album, and it just turned out to be a single.

""Then last year we developed the idea of continuing on the album for the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France and Kraftwerk's 33rd.

""We made a new digital version of Tour de France '83 - which is also included on the album - but all the other tracks are completely new compositions, around the ideas of cycling, of medical tests, of all kinds of aspects.""

Hutter said that work on the album had been boosted by an invitation from the Tour's organisers to travel with the event.

""The organisers of the Tour de France in fact called us and they invited us this year to participate and follow it from inside, in the Alps,"" Hutter said.

Every day they turn up at their Kling Klang studio in Dusseldorf and work...on what? Well, at last we know

BBC review of Tour de France
""Our driver was a former professional, so he explained to us what it was like inside.""

Hutter said that the band's use of cycling as the inspiration for Tour de France reflected the continuing theme of travel as an inspiration for music.

Kraftwerk's breakthrough record was Autobahn - German for motorway.

""It's the droning sound of the synthesisers, oscillators, overtones - for us it's like music,"" Hutter said.

Because Kraftwerk so rarely give interviews, much of their music has had to be interpreted by critics, who talk about it reflecting technological rhythms of the modern world.

Hutter said he agreed with this, arguing that the band were consciously listening to these sounds and putting them into the music - ""transporting them to music levels"".

'You're gliding'

""Basically it's improvising on some sound ideas, and developing from there,"" he told The Music Biz.

""The same with Tour de France, where strangely enough, when cycling is at it's best, when it's really going, it's silent.

""When your bike functions best, you don't hear it - it's silent, there's no crackling, it's just shhhh - you're gliding.

""It's the same when you're in good shape and you're in form and you're riding your bike, you hear nothing - maybe just a little bit of breath.""

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
"Don't Forget ""Pee-Wee's Big Adventure"""

">I think it should be added to any cyclist's media collection along with The Road to Hell and Breaking Away.

Don't forget ""Pee-Wee's Big Adventure""."

Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
John Tesh also did a TDF cd in 1988

"I assume the new one is avail in standard cd form for a low techie like myself.--where/how can I purchase it???

Also see/hear Livingston Taylor ""Bicycle"" ""Stolen Moment"" by the bicycle thieves and for decoration (cd covers have bikes on them): Paris Africans: ""African Bicyclette"" & Gary Burton: ""Departures"""

Anonymous's picture
linda (not verified)
TDF music

"Here's a link to the CD on Amazon

I listened to clips of it on Amazon and honestly its not that special. There is a tremendous amount of really interesting French Electronica that is as good if not better. Kraftwerk just found a clever marketing ploy."

Anonymous's picture
bikesherpa (not verified)

You can't listen to clips of it on Amazon and appreciate it. You have to listen to the whole album a few times and get a feel for it. As oppossed to other electronic music, this is an attempt to capture the bicycling experience in music. I think they succeeded and like the simplicity of the sounds. Here's a review from the BBC:

Anonymous's picture
ahnald (not verified)

I saw it at Tower Records a few weeks ago and took a chance. I was not surprised that it was an excellent album. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.

Anonymous's picture
linda (not verified)
In case you're interested...

...the words to the song TDF 2003 in both French & English:

L'enfer du Nord: Paris - Roubaix
La Cote d'Azur et Saint Tropez
Les Alpes et les Pyrennees
Derniere etape Champs-Elysees
Galibier et Tourmalet
En danseuse jusqu'au sommet
Pedaler en grand braquet
Sprint final a l'arrivee
Crevaison sur les paves
Le velo vite repare
Le peloton est regroupe
Camarades et amitie

The hell of the north: Paris - Roubaix
The Cote d'Azur and Saint Tropez
The Alps and the Pyrennees
Last stage Champs-Elysees
Galibier and Tourmalet (2 mountains)
Dancing even on the top
Bicycling at high gear
Final sprint at the finish
Flat tire on the paving stones
The bicycle is repaired quickly
The peloton is regrouped
Comrades and friendship)

However, I still think its a marketing ploy to capture a wide European audience. Its been on the top 20/40 charts in Europe for a while now.

Anonymous's picture
kc (not verified)

>John Tesh also did a TDF cd
Actually he did several...

1 Tour De France
2 Early Years
and a song or two on several other CDs
3 several are on his Greatest hits CD

He compiled much of the songs when he was the music
source for all of the CBS sports broadcasts of the
bicycling races in the 80s.

CBS did Paris-Roubaix, TdF, Worlds and an occasional
other odd ball event.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
Thanks ...

... for the heads-up reviews, bikesherpa. I always liked Kraftwerk, if not synth music in general.

Why the **** is John Tesh mentioned here? A joke I hope - and I'm not laughing. Shameful. Kenny G next??? Now I'm laughing.

Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
John Tesh

"yes, John Tesh had a cd ""Tour De France"" in 1988--I have it. I vaguely recall that his music was the background for the TDF telecast in one or more of those years and I even more vaugely recall that he actually did some cycling, maybe even racing."

cycling trips