It’s quite interesting and fun to see that Karl Bartos is back on stage after a decade of absence (well, not really a decade). Karl is the former Kraftwerk member of the renowned line-up of Kraftwerkians: Hütter-Schneider-Bartos-Flür that used to plink the little electronic gadget in the song “Pocket Calculator” (Taschenrechner in German, Mini Calculateur in French, and Dentaku (電卓) in Japanese and Mini Calcolatore in Italian) with that awkwardly awesome hip movement back in the early 1980’s. Yes, THAT Karl Bartos. I never really understood the context of the lyrics in the song “Life” that was released in the early years of the millennia:
So glad we made it!
Time will never change it!
But, finally, I have to get on with my life.
I would assume that Karl was over with Kraftwerk, and realized that a new era was to arise from the fallen pioneers of electronic music. After all, he left the band in 1990 after the secret tour in Italy where he later got replaced by Fernando Abrantes, which in fact never really filled his shoes other than being a douchebaggy personality that not even couldn’t replace Karl’s talent for the Deagan Vibraphone. Let alone all other aptitude Karl possessed.
Karl has been an inspiration for many musicians, me included. I saw him live at Kulturbolaget in Malmoe on May 19th 2001. Even though I was followed by an adult [my dad] (I was under 18, so it was a requirement) to this once-in-a-lifetime venue, it couldn’t have turned out any better. My idol was performing live on stage, and I was right there surrounded by likeminded people with a burning heart for this odd old weirdo that was playing electronic music and singing with a robotic voice.
His recent performances are more nostalgic and entertaining rather than unique and musical. We’ve seen and heard his entire performances either through Kraftwerk, or through him as Karl Bartos himself. Do you remember 15 Minutes of Fame? (with the classic lyrics “all you need is another hit’go, oh celebrities”). Most people would consider it as 3:40 minutes of torture – but it’s still nostalgic to us, the hardcore fans. Nearly all the electronic music and sub-genres of electronica is derived from this guys’ musical creations, as well as Kraftwerk’s – so he certainly deserve all the props he can get for his legacy of being the innovator of synthesizer music, which I later referred as “Sonido Electronico”.
At an age of 60, Karl Bartos still is an outstanding performer and artist and I hope that he will continue doing what he does best; revive Kraftwerk and all their classic tunes. This kids, is what I used to call electronic music when everybody else was listening to Alarma.