Uwe Schmidt has spent much of the last decade melding traditional instrumentation with electronics to form a seamless fusion. As Senor Coconut, the Frankfurt, Germany native, who's now based in Santiago, Chile, offers up interesting, if slightly comical, Latin-music interpretations of classic Kraftwerk songs.
Translated as "The German Dance," El Baile Alemán treats
Kraftwerk's repetitive motorway aesthetic as the dance craze of the
A cha-cha-cha version of "Showroom Dummies" (RealAudio excerpt) starts off the album. Fiery horns rise with dubwise, reverb-drenched production. On "Home Computer" (RealAudio excerpt), marimbas, vibraphones and strings play the Teutonic melodies you know and love.
It's hard not to like "Autobahn" (RealAudio excerpt). Schmidt's interpretation melds the sleek horizontal propulsion of the quintessential Kraftwerk original with a drunken Cumbia Meringue swing. The result souds more like a soundtrack for driving an old rusty car down dusty South American streets than the sleek german engineering that powers the original.
The entire album is delivered with expert precision, combining live
playing and sampling in a way that blurs the boundaries between them.
"The Man Machine" (RealAudio excerpt), done as a Baklaàn, combines intertwining Afro-Cuban horn arrangements with a hypnotic claveà.
Perhaps Schmidt's impetus was to reveal an unfathomable link between Kraftwerk and Latin music, but it's obivous that he also has a strong appreciation for the humor inherent in this project. While Schmidt may have been too reverent with the original source material, making the album sound awfully contrived, it's hard to be critical of such a warm, joyous homage to one of the most influential groups of the past 30 years.