Wolfgang Flür: Eloquence

An eclectic grab bag of recordings from the former Kraftwerk member, with some unexpected guests.

Wolfgang Flür


Label: Strike Force / Cherry Red / Cleopatra
UK Release Date: 2015-10-23
US Release Date: 2015-10-30

If you know one thing about Wolfgang Flür, it's that he was in Kraftwerk. Flür was a member of the pioneering German synth outfit during their most productive and influential period, from the 1974 smash Autobahn to at least The Man-Machine in 1978. Flür seems to have been written out of the credits on the band's two 1980s albums, and he has not released much music since.

Eloquence is subtitled "Complete Works", which may seem misleading considering the album contains only 12 unique songs. But there's no underhanded marketing scheme at work. Rather, this really is the sum of the recordings Flür made between 2000 and 2015, after his time in Kraftwerk and the subsequent, short-lived Yamo. Working with production partner Stefan Lindlahr and a handful of other collaborators, Flür created these tracks mostly for his own gratification and to use in his DJ sets, with only a few having seen the light of day before.

Despite Flür's pedigree, it bears mentioning that as electronic percussionist, he did not get a single songwriting credit with Kraftwerk. Some of the tracks here do bear traces of his former band's iconic sound, but for the most part Flür comes across as a mere participant in the music on Eloquence. He is a co-writer on every song, but aside from his vocals, it's tough to know exactly how and where he figures in.

Perhaps not surprisingly given its genesis, Eloquence comes across as more of a loosely related but disjointed collection of songs than a proper album. Where Flür and Lindlahr are the primary producers, the music covers a fairly wide range of synth-based sounds and styles. The common denominator is an overarching sense of whimsy and offhandedness. Kraftwerk were always a bit silly and tongue-in-cheek, but their sincere, deadpan vocals and the meticulous focus and drive of their music saved them from coming across as a novelty act. The same can't always be said of Eloquence. These songs are certainly looser, more eclectic, and often more earthy than any of Kraftwerk's trademark material. They are also more frivolous and all-too-easy to dismiss.

Tracks like "Blue Spark", "Beat Perfecto", and "I Was a Robot", an early-2000s dance hit in Germany, evince the simple electro-zap percussion and pointed discipline Kraftwerk were famous for. The latter is an especially clever reference to Flür's former band, who at their concerts would indeed send robots out in lieu of the human members.

These uptempo numbers are fine for the clubs. Elsewhere, though, Eloquence is scattershot, too dependent on a slate of chanteuse vocalists and Flür's own sing-speak. A gravelly, good-natured thing, Flür's voice falls somewhere between Dieter Meier of Swiss experimentalist popsters Yello and reggae legend/oddball Lee "Scratch" Perry. He often sounds amused by his appearance in his own songs. "I am a goof", he proclaims on "Staying in the Shadow", and that's the album's most heartfelt moment.

Eloquence does at times manage to rise above the fey and arbitrary, especially when some noteworthy collaborators get involved. Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto lends his trademark kaleidoscopic electronics and some mellow synth pads to "Staying in the Shadow". "Axis of Envy" with Nitzer Ebb's Bon Harris sounds exactly like a Nitzer Ebb track fronted by Flür, with pulsing synths and punishing rhythm. Flür and Lindlahr deliver "Best Friend's Birthday" by themselves, and it's an unhinged curiosity about "freaking out" with some trumpet work that does just that.

Eloquence also features a handful of "bonus" tracks, which are mostly alternate-language versions. They're noteworthy only for the appearance of ex-Pizzicato Five singer Nomiya Maki on the Japanese "On the Beam".

Hardcore Kraftwerk fans should be pleased to have Eloquence, especially since Flür's former band have released only a single studio album since his departure. Flür may no longer be a robot, but there's still some machine left in the man.







Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.


Hip-Hop's Raashan Ahmad Talks About His Place in 'The Sun'

On his latest work,The Sun, rapper Raashan Ahmad brings his irrepressible charisma to this set of Afrobeat-influenced hip-hop.


Between the Buried and Me's Baby Pictures Star in 'The Silent Circus'

The Silent Circus shows Between the Buried and Me developing towards the progressive metal titans they would eventually become.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.