Lost in the K-hole

Ex-Kraftwerk percussionist, New Order bassist play Tokyo, Osaka


Bernard Sumner of U.K. dance-pop group New Order credits the late, great Ian Curtis with introducing Joy Division — later to become New Order after Curtis’ suicide in 1980 — to the then-revolutionary synthesizer sounds of Kraftwerk.

In the 1994 “NewOrderStory” documentary, Sumner recounts how Joy Division vocalist Curtis would play Kraftwerk tapes to the band before they went on stage in the 1970s, telling them: “Listen to this. This is something completely new, completely different.”

No history of dance music would be worth its salt without the inclusion of Kraftwerk and New Order. The impact of the German pioneers on pop, hip-hop and dance music, particularly techno, cannot be underestimated; Manchester’s New Order, meanwhile, adopted Kraftwerk’s minimalist edge and were one of the first guitar bands to use house rhythms, inspiring a generation of future bands with the 1983 singles “Confusion” and “Blue Monday,” the latter going on to become the biggest-selling 12-inch single of all time.

It’s therefore fitting that Kraftwerk and Elektric Music’s Karl Bartos and New Order’s Peter Hook are set to perform at Volumes 1 and 2 of the K-Sounds nights in Osaka and Tokyo over the next two weekends celebrating the 40th anniversary of streetwear brand K-Swiss.

Vol. 1 featuring Bartos, who played electronic percussion with Kraftwerk from 1975-91, will be held April 7 at Osaka’s Salon De Caligula, Midosuji Bldg 11F, 1-4-5 Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka (tel. [06] 6243-0089) from 10:30 p.m. and April 8 at Tokyo’s Air, B2 Hikawa Bldg, 2-11 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku (tel. [03] 6415-6231) from 10 p.m. Tickets for the Osaka night are 3,500 yen on the door (includes one drink). For the Tokyo event bring a flyer to get 500 yen off the entry price of 3,500 yen.

The following weekend, April 14-15, Vol. 2 sees Hook abandon his trademark low-slung bass guitar for a couple of decks. If his DJ set in the Red Marquee at Fuji Rock Festival last summer is anything to go by, where he had the whole tent jumping like lunatics for an hour following New Order’s headline show, the set will be largely made up of New Order tunes and mixes. At Air on April 15, Hook will be in the fine company of house and breaks DJ Mike McKenna (prices and times as for Vol. 1).