Kraftwerk Rarities Disc Not Authorized, Label Says

New compilation turns out to comprise previously released bootleg material.

A rarities album from German electronic-music pioneers Kraftwerk, originally advertised as their first official full-length release in nine years, is a hoax.

The seven-song A Short Introduction to Kraftwerk is a collection of previously released bootleg material not compiled or produced by Kraftwerk, according to Phil Walton, president of Music Non Stop Sales, which began pre-selling the CD a month ago.

"When the item did arrive last Monday, we discovered that the information we had originally been given for the release was totally incorrect," Walton said. "[The album] was not unearthed studio tracks, as was originally told to us and passed on to our customers."

Volker Sonntag, a publicist at EMI Germany, the group's label, said A Short Introduction to Kraftwerk was not released by the band and that there were no plans to release a live or rarities record.

But he said Kraftwerk are in the studio working on new material.

Released by Sonic Books, A Short Introduction to Kraftwerk was purported to feature unreleased versions of the group's early classics, along with an 88-page CD-size booklet. The material was available in the U.S. only by mail order through a few British companies.

Sonic Books did not respond to faxed requests for comment.

Tim Barr, author of the 1998 biography "Kraftwerk: From Dusseldorf to the Future (With Love)," called the album a "hoax perpetrated by the usual bootleg sources."

"The sound quality is pretty poor and, in fact, sounds like it's been recorded from a vinyl bootleg," he said. "There is also some dubiety about the authenticity of many of the tracks."

A Short Introduction to Kraftwerk features more than 45 minutes of music, including nonstudio versions of their 1978 #1 UK hit "The Model" (RealAudio excerpt of original), Radioactivity's "Uranium" and Trans-Europe Express' "The Hall of Mirrors" (RealAudio excerpt of original).

"Us, along with many other music stores, were completely misled about the release of this item," Walton said. "We have therefore withdrawn the item from sale and all those customers who ordered the item, we have contacted to let them know they can have a full refund if they wish to return the item to us."

Kraftwerk, the duo of Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider, are considered a major influence for artists ranging from rocker David Bowie to techno stars the Chemical Brothers. In their 25-year career, Kraftwerk became known for their notorious secrecy and unpredictability.

"It's almost impossible to overstate the impact that Kraftwerk have had on contemporary electronic music," Barr said. "They proved that you could make intelligent, provocative but still accessible pop music outside of the guitar, bass and drums hegemony."

Kraftwerk went on a sudden worldwide tour in 1998, prompting fans to speculate over new material for nearly two years. The group answered this year with the single "Expo 2000," their first official release since the 1991 remix album The Mix.

"[Kraftwerk have not released] new tracks that they played on the world tour a couple of years back, which suggests that an all new album may still be in the pipeline," Barr said.