With a boxed set of its primary catalog on the way, Kraftwerk is eyeballing 2010 for the release of its first new album since 2003's "Tour De France Soundtracks."
Co-founder Ralf Hutter tells Billboard.com that with the group's 2009 live shows -- including some featuring 3-D background graphics and several with Radiohead -- the pioneering German electronic outfit has returned to its Kling Klang multi-media facility in Dusseldorf. "There's still time to go," Hutter reports, "but in the winter it's pretty gray here, so it's a good situation to go into the studio." As to what the album -- Kraftwerk's first without co-founder Florian Schneider, who left the group last November -- will sound like, Hutter says "it's still very early. It's still in its embryonic stage."
Hutter says he expects Kraftwerk to tour again once the album is completed and released.
Until that time, fans will be able to tuck into "The Catalogue," an eight-disc boxed set due out Nov. 17 that commemorates the 35th anniversary of Kraftwerk's breakthrough hit "Autobahn" and contains all the albums it released between 1974-2003. Each of the titles has been remastered and come in "mini-vinyl" wallet card packaging, with large-format booklets that replicate the artwork of the original releases. Additionally, 1986's "Electric Cafe" has been returned to its originally intended title, "Techno Pop."
Five of the titles, meanwhile -- "Autobahn," "Radio-Activity," "Trans Europe Express," "The Man Machine" and "Tour De France Soundtracks" -- have just been released as individual CDs. The other three albums are not currently licensed for separate release in the U.S.
"It's a piece of work that just had to be done," Hutter says of the catalog overhaul. "The quality (of previous CDs) wasn't always as it should have been...especially the artwork was just cut down from the LP format or scanned down, especially in America. Now we found the time to finish it, and we're very happy. You have everything from Kraftwerk in high (quality) formats."
Hutter says he also plans to upgrade the three Kraftwerk albums that preceded "Autobahn," though he won't predict a timetable for those. "When I find the time and go through the archives again, we'll do those also in a new format," he promises. "But my perspective now is forward for the next album."