A collection of international electropop from former Kraftwerk drummer and full-time Musik Soldat
These days, one-time Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür traverses the globe, playing his solo ‘Musik Soldat’ shows, getting into some alarming scrapes every now and then, but always thriving on his interactions with musicians and other creative types along the way. And so the sleeve of ‘Eloquence’, subtitled ‘Complete Works’, features Flür’s own Halliburton suitcase, bought during his Kraftwerk days, a symbol of international travel, while the title is a reference perhaps to the fact that Wolfgang sees himself first and foremost as a storyteller. The album, then, might be best understood as a series of short stories, some true, some fiction, some in between, spun by an itinerant ex-robot on the hoof.
By his own admission, Flür was never a songwriter. His post-Kraftwerk releases, like 1997’s ‘Time Pie’ as Yamo, and this, his first solo album, have relied on collaborators to realise his musical ideas. The trick is to choose your collaborations carefully. With Yamo, his electronic pals happened to be Mouse On Mars, fellow Düsseldorf travellers in the world of electronic music. ‘Eloquence’ boasts a raft of international talent all happily contributing: Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto; Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb; Maki Nomiya of Pizzicato 5; Marc Almond’s keyboard player Anni Hogan; Mexico’s Ramon Amezcua, aka Bostich. They’re all students of the Kraftwerk school in one way or another, and the result is a patchwork of electronic music, some rebooting Kraftwerk’s clean and fastidious approach, others moving into less familiar territory.
The opener, ‘I Was A Robot’, is a slick example of the former, an autobiographical jaunt through Flür’s life in Kraftwerk, and ’Cover Girl’, an updating of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’, is another. Flür describes the album as electropop and the likes of the perky ‘Blue Spark’ and ‘On The Beam’ (with Maki Nomiya of Pizzicato 5) certainly have a stamp of international pop about them. ‘Staying In The Shadow’, the collaboration with Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto, is an unsettling and fictional journey into the psyche of a troubled soul, far darker and experimental, while ‘Moda Makina’ brings a mariachi flavour to proceedings.
You sense an understandable struggle in the presentation of his own work, between the necessary distancing from his former band, and the reality of his own ebullient creative personality. And as such, ‘Eloquence’ isn’t Kraftwerk-lite, but a solidly realised album that is both fun and engaging. It’s pulled together from disparate sources, and sounds like it, but the potential for Flür to produce a more focused work that straddles his literary bent and electronic melody making is an enticing prospect. He will never escape the “ex-Kraftwerk” tag, but why would he want to?