The surprise album from the German electronic pioneer scientists surfaced in 1981, three years after their final monumental "Trans Europe Express" album. In the US, they shifted gears by electing to record for Warner Bros after many years with EMI (where they remained outside the US). "Computer World" was a revelation in that the band's sound was so totally refined and perfected, sounding almost other worldly for the times....and that notion still holds true on listening to it today, as the tracks seem to have a cryogenic quality to them, sound fresh and modern. The flow and sequence of the songs is like an elaborate electronic symphony that is playful, intense, tongue in cheek and ultimately exhilarating.
This is the album pundits like to point to when they accuse Kraftwerk of being digital-age visionaries; an all-too-easy assessment to make in the face of tracks such as "Home Computer" and "Computer Love" (not
an ode to one-hand typing!). But to saddle the band with the reputation of sages is to completely miss the low-key wit and all-too-human playfulness of this album. "Pocket Calculator" and "Numbers" (the lyrics: numbers one to eight--period) could be read as tongue-in-cheek ripostes to too much bad "educational" programming, but that would smack of creeping punditry. Computer World
is Kraftwerk's most lovable bundle of contradictions: at once its most technologically obsessed album and its most human. --Jerry McCulley