A symphonic-electronic joyride with Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra
Sat 24 November 2018 – The Anvil, Basingstoke
Modern technology joins classic synthesisers and an amplified orchestra in raising the electrified ghosts of 1970s Düsseldorf in the first UK tour of kraftwerk re:werk, Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra’s remarkable, live reinterpretation of the work of German synth-pioneers, Kraftwerk.
The performance is electronically manipulated, mixed, filtered and distorted in real time, effectively turning Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra itself into a multi-component synthesiser as the 39-piece ensemble performs the original work of composers, Charlotte Harding and Lloyd Coleman under the leadership of acclaimed conductor, Charles Hazlewood. Kraftwerk’s landmark, 1977 album, Trans-Europe Express is the project’s stated starting point, leading to a reworking of the classic record’s ground-breaking fusion of musical technologies, compositional influences and concepts of travel, motion and elusive reality. kraftwerk re:werk gathers a bank of classic synthesisers, electronic instruments, live drums and Vocoder-warped vocals and an orchestra to recite a completely new body of work with recognisable Kraftwerk signatures.
As the world’s only large-scale ensemble for disabled musicians, some of The British Paraorchestra’s experienced musicians require adaptations or newly designed instruments to make performing possible. One such breakthrough, an entirely new and ‘wearable’ instrument, The HiNote, allows paralysed trumpeter, Clarence Adoo to perform. Acknowledgment of direct parallels between the orchestra’s necessary technological explorations and Kraftwerk’s early embrace of computed sound was a decisive factor in the composers’ decision to make kraftwerk re:werk a determined fusion of pulsing electronica and the orchestra’s asset of outstanding, live musicianship.
Charlotte Harding says: “Movement is a key idea that has been drawn from Kraftwerk’s original into this new score, with the ensemble being made to ‘shift up gears’ throughout the piece, embracing the concept of momentum in music and how this can be achieved by playing with time signatures and rhythmic modulations. Kraftwerk very much had their own synth timbre, a distinct voice all of their own, which we’ve reimagined in orchestral sound. The humanity that Kraftwerk was able to impart and represent despite using cold, hard technology was remarkable and is reflected four decades later as the digital age sets disabled members of the orchestra free to express themselves musically, a link that had a profound effect on the development of the piece.”
Lloyd Coleman says: “Our hope is that Kraftwerk aficionados can pick out fragments of melodies, rhythms, synth sounds and lyrics from the original album that they recognise, but also that complete newcomers to Kraftwerk and synth music can immerse themselves in something original. We’ve created something new that offers a convincing musical thread on which to place known Kraftwerk landmarks, so audiences are on a journey via which they’ll encounter the riff from Europe Endless, then a few moments later hear the refrain from Trans Europe Express and then later on pick out a kit pattern from Showroom Dummies.”