There are few genres in which German artists play such a central pioneering role as they do in electronic music, be it techno, electropop, trance or rave. At the frontline for many years were Kraftwerk and U96, two absolute trailblazers of this musical direction. While Kraftwerk wrote international music history mainly in the 1970s with cult albums such as Autobahn (1974), Radio-Aktivität (1975), Trans Europa Express (1977) and Die Mensch- Maschine (1978), U96 had a profound influence on the global pop music, rave and techno scene of the 1990s with hits such as ‘Das Boot’, ‘Love Sees No Colour’, ‘Night In Motion’ and ‘Heaven’. Transhuman, scheduled for release on UNLTD Recordings on 4 September 2020, will feature a spectacular collaboration between U96 (Ingo Hauss & Hayo Lewerentz) and Wolfgang Flür, Kraftwerk’s drummer in the years between 1972 and 1987 and therefore involved in the most seminal albums by the group from Düsseldorf.
This remarkable cooperation was first announced and implemented by two joint numbers on U96’s 2018 offering Reboot. Transhuman sees U96 and Wolfgang Flür develop their creative exchange across a full album, creating fascinating sonic worlds. The title song ‘Transhuman’ and an updated version of ‘Zukunftsmusik (Radiophonique)’ will be released as lead singles, including, as we’ve come to expect from U96, experimental video clips.
That New York record label Radikal Records immediately secured the rights to the album for the US and Canada points to major interest in this project, not only on these shores but also across the Atlantic.
“Transhuman is a stylistic mélange of our different histories,” describe Wolfgang Flür and U96 masterminds Hauss and Lewerentz an offering that is spectacular in many respects, featuring, along with typical U96 tracks such as ‘Clone’ and ‘Specimen’, numbers such as ‘Transhuman’, ‘Planet In Fever’ and ‘Sexersizer’ that are inspired by Flür’s past. Notably, the content has been reduced to the sheer basics, in other words: sparingly used associative statements with deep, but at times also playful and mysterious messages that the listener feels rather than consciously registers. The lyrics are about the transformation of people through technology and our massive interference in life on our planet. Hauss: “Pieces like ‘Zukunftsmusik’ and ‘Transhuman’ don’t tell a story in the classic sense, they articulate emotions and associations in very few words, bringing to mind recordings such as Radio-Aktivität, Autobahn and Die Mensch-Maschine. In addition Transhuman, features a number of melodies created on the basis of computer algorithms, in other words fractal music which takes us even further back in history, to Klaus Schulze, Stockhausen, the electronics laboratories of the fifties and sixties and the musique concrete compositional technique.”
U96 and Flür met in person for the first time in the early 2000s, but they had felt mutual respect for each other for a long time before that. Hayo Lewerentz: “Of course there was no way past Kraftwerk for any German artist who worked with electronic music, synthesizers and creative studio options in the eighties. We were occupied day and night with how that band created their incredible sounds.” Later Flür offered Lewerentz, who ran the electro label Major Records, new songs for release, and the latter went on to remix Flür’s track ‘Beat Perfecto’, among others. Subsequent to the creative collaboration between Hauss, Lewerentz and Flür on Reboot, the trio exchanged more than forty fragments of ideas online over the past two years, which eventually spawned the 14 songs on Transhuman. Lewerentz: “In addition there are two more tracks, which will feature on Wolfgang’s upcoming album Magazine at the end of the year.” Joint concerts by U96/Wolfgang Flür are also in the making. Lewerentz: “We’re hoping to do a few shows together next year. There’s definitely been a lot of interest from the promoters.” No doubt about it: There’s a lot of interest not only from the promoters!