While his former band tours the planet with retrospect material Karl Bartos continues to explore the unknown. The former robot is still very much productive and this recent announcement is no exception. Perhaps we would hope to see Kraftwerk also stepping out of their comfort zone once in a while, especially now as the robots (aka AI) is entering center stage in many fields of creativity.

Karl Bartos, the former Kraftwerk mainstay, has announced his new project, ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, which will premiere at the Alte Oper Frankfurt on 17 Feburary, 2024. The project comes after 20 years of Bartos being fascinated by the 1920 film, “the first psychothriller in film history” and is described as “narrative film music and sound design for Robert Wiene’s psychological thriller”. 

Bartos has tailored “an aptly experimental sound outfit to suit this experimental silent movie classic. To do so, he has created not only an entirely new continuous soundscape to match the moving images, but also a distinct musical score. He uses the timeless sound of the symphony orchestra, though obviously synthetically and electronically modulated.

“This extraordinary performance melds the film, digitally restored in 4K by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Foundation, with sounds and music layered live on stage in perfect synch by Karl and his colleague Mathias Black.

Live performances in 2024 will be accomplished by a vinyl and blue-ray release.

Bartos hinted at the project when Electronic Sound interviewed him in 2022:

“I’m a little bit tired of three-minute pop music,” he said when we asked him what he was planning. “There’s so much good pop music written by The Beatles and from the pre-Beatles era – it’s hard to top them. You have to be very careful and think long about it. Or you put together three or four people who can be a cultural subject, like Kraftwerk was in the beginning.”

And so he’s returned to his own classical music training for inspiration.

“Back to Bach and the Renaissance. If you listen to Monteverdi, do me a favour and listen to ‘L’Orfeo’, the first opera, or other composers from the Renaissance. Some of it sounds like the music of today.

“I always like to go back into the history of music – take a little bit from here and there – to the time when Bach lived, the age of enlightenment, to when we had the first idea to decode the world into zero and one. The German polymath Leibniz came up with that idea. It opens up a completely new perspective on today’s world. Some in Kraftwerk said, ‘You never look back, always look ahead. If you look too much in the rear mirror, you make a crash’. But I don’t think so. I think you have to look in the rear mirror once in a while, to know where you’ve come from.”

Visit karlbartos.com for more information

Old Stereoklang interview with Karl Bartos can be found here >>