Karl Bartos Communication

Karl Bartos Communication
7
For those of us who missed it in 2003, Karl Bartos's solo debut Communication, is now being reissued by Trocadero Records. For those who didn't, you may be forgiven for giving this a pass — the actual product is a fairly bare-bones affair, remastered but with only one "new" track (a remix of another track already present). But while the release may disappoint those hoping for extras or archival goodies, newcomers will find much to enjoy here.
 
A member of Kraftwerk from 1975 to 1990, Bartos's name rightly carries a certain weight, and overall, this solo outing is worthy of Bartos's pedigree as one of the originators of electronic music. There is a level of professionalism and devotion to a specific sound here that commands respect.
 
What sounded dated in 2003 remains so today — staid and repetitive mid-tempo drum programming with boring fills and oppressive '80s-style vocoder are the main offenders here, the latter lending a disaffected sameness to some tracks — but the highs remain the same, as well. Many of the repetitive tracks here could have been elevated by Bartos's perfectly fine vocal abilities, and the two tracks he does lend his voice to are among the most memorable. Single "Life," the second of these, is arguably the album's highlight, a new-wave excursion in a very pop direction that features an infectious hook.
 
There's no shortage of these flashes of brilliance throughout the album, making it easy to overlook its sometimes-clunky retro-futurist leanings. Communication remains a well-crafted statement with a distinct vision. (Trocadero Records)