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Rock out with your Kraut out
March 2, 2006 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Krautrock: From the hypnotic rhythms and melodies of Can, to the revolutionary electronics of Kraftwerk. Krautrock was a genre that spawned many genius acts. The communal bands like Amon Duul II and Siloah that were soon to be emulated by cult-like restaurant owners, Ya Ho Wha . There were the obscure acts like Zweistein whose sound evokes thoughts of current bands like Animal Collective and Wooden Wand. And there were albums the ground-breaking albums like Tangerine Dream's dark, ambient, Phaedra and the Manuel Gottsching record E2-E4 which is considered to be the first techno album ever produced. Needless to say, Krautrock's influence has been lasting and monumental.
posted by cloeburner (48 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently the late Chris Whitley's last album, Soft Dangerous Shores, which I think is a dark masterpiece, was much influence by Kraftwerk, particularly songs like "City of Women" -- imagine Delta blues meet Krautrock. A very hip, very sad album.
posted by digaman at 10:45 AM on March 2, 2006


*influenced
posted by digaman at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2006


The influence of Kraut these days is everywhere. Crazy British and their attempts to undermine German innovation.

I have to make a shout-out for my mp3 blog, which explores a lot of these themes: charlatantric.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2006


Oops, I meant to post this Can video instead: Mushroom. Oh well, they're both good.
posted by cloeburner at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2006


How could the first and the "lasting" links have possibly missed Neu!?
posted by hellbient at 10:49 AM on March 2, 2006


Hoo boy do I love me some Can.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:49 AM on March 2, 2006


Yeah, it's hard to distinguish certain Amon Duul II or Siloah tracks from stuff being played today by Sunburned Hand of the Man or Vibracathedral Orchestra, among many others.
posted by cloeburner at 10:50 AM on March 2, 2006


sonofsamiam: tago mago or future days? (there is a right and a wrong answer to this question.)
posted by ori at 10:50 AM on March 2, 2006


Because I don't like Neu!
posted by cloeburner at 10:50 AM on March 2, 2006


Tocotronic's nice, too.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:53 AM on March 2, 2006


Because I don't like Neu!

Fine, but they should be included in a Krautrock list, no?
posted by hellbient at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2006


Tago Mago like ein mutterfikker.

(actually, I like future days, too!)
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2006


Nice essay on Faust by Julian Cope, taken from his book Krautrocksampler, here. If you love this music and can find a copy of Cope's book, do; it's one of the best things written on German 1970s music.
posted by Len at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2006


Neat post, excellent title cloeburner.

I once explained Krautrock as prog you could dance to. Fair analysis?
posted by bardic at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2006


Was für ein tolles Post! Rock fort.
posted by xanthippe at 11:26 AM on March 2, 2006



Tago Mago like ein mutterfikker.

(actually, I like future days, too!)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:56 PM EST on March 2 [!]


They're both excellent. I was originally only a fan of the Damo Suzuki incarnation Can. but now I like the other guy ok too , just not as much as Damo. You might know him from the Fall song I am Damo Suzuki!! (Where are you going with that paper bag-ah?! Must be a bot-tle of Vitamen C-ee, Because I am DAMO SUZUKI-ah!!!).

Most rockin' song by Can though is "Mother Sky". Great great guitar lead, with a seriously brillant pulsating bass line and drumbeat. Someone once described Can to me as the German Velvet Underground (or was it the German Grateful Dead??). Yes, no or maybe. Discuss-ah.
posted by Skygazer at 11:35 AM on March 2, 2006


when I saw, skys are red
when I saw, skys are red

I GOT TO KEEP MY DISTANCE
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:49 AM on March 2, 2006


I'm gonna get my dismount?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:51 AM on March 2, 2006


I can still remember when Kraftwerk first came out. We listened to them and looked wonderingly at one another. It was cold, sterile, dull and repetetive, and made the blandest Muzak ever piped into an elevator sound as passionate as "Pagliacci." Who sort of brain-dead person could possibly a.) make this music, b.) listen to this record all the way through, c.) even like it? Who would ever dream in a thousand lifetimes that this metronomic insipidity would grow, over the next several decades, into the whole huge field of electronica without ever becoming in the slightest degree more complex, interesting or entertaining. You never know what's going to happen in this world.
posted by Faze at 11:53 AM on March 2, 2006


Searching for my blow-up doll! ah-lalalalala-dada!
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:53 AM on March 2, 2006


I'm gonna get my dismount?

I've gotta keep my despair?
I've gotta kill my despair?
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:57 AM on March 2, 2006


I always thought he said something about dispositions.
posted by cloeburner at 12:01 PM on March 2, 2006


Lots of 'second-tier' krautrock available at 8 Days In April and Chris Goes Rock. Amazing awesome stuff.

And I always thought it was "gotta keep my despair" - though FWIW The Jesus & Mary Chain clearly say "gotta keep my distance" in their cover of same.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:10 PM on March 2, 2006


Does anybody else remember a band from the late 70s called Jane? It's not on the krautrock list, but I remember making one of my monthly pilgrimages to Aquarius Records on Castro when I was in high school to buy the import which was being played on KSAN.

Whoa. This post is TMBack in the Day.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 12:15 PM on March 2, 2006


I'm still spasming from the awesomeness of this post to make a thoughtful comment. Sorry :(.
posted by basicchannel at 12:25 PM on March 2, 2006


In my search for Jane, I found the Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 12:41 PM on March 2, 2006


I always loved the Amon Duul album title:

A Short Stop At The Transylvanian Brain Surgery
posted by jcruelty at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2006


faze, try venetian snares.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2006


Anybody know what the hell happened to Tangerine Dream in the late 70's/early 80s? Their early stuff is really really good. However, at some point, they decided that everything needed to sound like a bad 80's movie soundtrack. Unfortunately, I don't think that their sound ever recovered from this.

Further proof of my theory that any band that didn't start out in the late 70's or early 80's stunk to high hell in the 80's.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2006


check out brainticket (german high weirdness) and heldon (france) - both are a bit overlooked imo.

and although they aren't 'krautrock' i have to recommend to anyone in this thread the seminal early 80's group this heat - absolutely timeless 'art-rock' that continues to melt my brain 25 years later. i'm not sure their records were actually made by human beings . . .

skygazer: there was a british group in the 90's called th' faith healers that did a kick-ass cover of 'mother sky'. it's on an album called 'lido' which is pretty great.
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 3:01 PM on March 2, 2006


Whoa. This post is TM Back in the Day.

Speaking of back in the day, I remember as a confused young record reviewer getting a copy of Ege Bamyasi when it came out. As I recall, there was no press package, no real information on the album cover, no lyrics I could understand (the singer seemed to be Japanese while the group apparently came from somewhere in Europe), and I had no idea what an Ege Bamyasi was. I couldn't even figure out if Can was the name of the group or the name of the record — and 30+ years ago, boys and girls (if you can imagine it) we had no Wikipedia or Ask MetaFilter to help with such questions.

Basically, I didn't get it. (Maybe it's time to take the album out and try again.) I've always preferred the showroom dummies of Kraftwerk, and Tangerine Dream's great record Stratosfear.

on preview: Stratosfear was mid-70s, Afroblanco, when Tangerine Dream still had their act together.
posted by LeLiLo at 3:06 PM on March 2, 2006


someone mentioned him earlier, but julian cope's web site: head heritage is a pretty great source in general for krautrock-related stuff including reviews of classic records as well as plugs for newer krautrock-influenced music. there's also internet radio there, including danskrocksampler which is, i guess, the danish equivalent of krautrock. plus, i think his record jehovahkill is one of the best neo-krautrock records ever.
posted by snofoam at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2006


Stratosfear is the album that got me into Krautrock. For some odd reason my dad had that in his collection of vinyl that was otherwise filled with Jimmy Buffett and the Kingston Trio [and maybe a few other good albums].
posted by cloeburner at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2006


Who would ever dream in a thousand lifetimes that this metronomic insipidity would grow, over the next several decades, into the whole huge field of electronica without ever becoming in the slightest degree more complex, interesting or entertaining.

Hah! Tell us about how all rap music sucks now.
posted by wakko at 3:20 PM on March 2, 2006


We step out
And take a walk through the city


Showroom Dummies has helped me through many an acid trip, a big danke schon to all those futuristic high tech German folk.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2006


I've always thought of This Heat as some unholy Faust/Can mind meld displaced a decade behind...

also, man, nothing tears up a dance floor like "Vitamin C" (well, sort of)...
posted by hototogisu at 4:31 PM on March 2, 2006


I see madness is to you like mother sky?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:01 PM on March 2, 2006


faze = john mayer fan? or just an opera snob.
posted by afro at 7:24 PM on March 2, 2006


Anybody know what the hell happened to Tangerine Dream in the late 70's/early 80s? Their early stuff is really really good.

Johannes Schmoelling joined the band and Peter Baumann left. I absolutely love their stuff from this period, in fact Tangram is probably my favorite TD album of all time, followed closely by Exit, but they were definitely more experimental before Schmoelling. By 1987 Schmoelling and Chris Franke were both gone (Paul Haslinger replaced Schmoelling but left after just a few years) and the band got even more new-agey.
posted by kindall at 7:40 PM on March 2, 2006


oosee whasee ici woo neh Mother Sky?
posted by Skygazer at 7:42 PM on March 2, 2006


And Can's Damo Suzuki is very old but touring strong these days, with pick-up local musicians mainly. He was here a couple years ago with that Acid Mothers Temple dude, playing again here next week with some of my friends (rhodes, bass, drums, laptop). He's still got it, but the music accompaniment is doubtless uneven. Oh, and he's TINY.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:35 PM on March 2, 2006


Popol Vuh!

Do not forget Popol Vuh!

Oh, and Agitation Free.

But Amon Duul II rules them all.
posted by parki at 8:45 PM on March 2, 2006


There was a Popol Vuh link in there, I would have posted Agitation Free, but I didn't feel their stuff was as unique as some of the others. I still really like them though.
posted by cloeburner at 9:33 PM on March 2, 2006


But Amon Duul II rules them all.

yeah, they were arguably the best song writers of the bunch and quite versatile stylistically. i also really like the first incarnation of a.d. for the whole primal power freakout sessions woo hoo!!
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 10:07 PM on March 2, 2006


nice post.

I don't know if they quite qualify, but from the same period there's also anima, peter brötzmann, stockhausen, and wdr experimental studios.

the more academic stuff does connect: holger czukay was a student of stockhausen, jaki liebezeit was part of the free jazz scene, et cetera et cetera...

on the somewhat less psych side of that period, you've got the proto punks Ton Steine Scherben, and the "Dylan of the DDR", Wolf Biermann

the late sixties and early seventies were a great period for german music, not just within the boundaries of this genre.
posted by jann at 11:35 PM on March 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Holger Czukay is still active. Here is the latest news:
besides the concert in paris on march 24 at circe d'hiver the preparations to release my back catalogue take most of my time at the moment. the new masters will be done with my old telefunken m10 master recorder with tube amps! scanned with 24 bits. also the cds with david sylvian, dr. walker and jah wobble will be in the schedule. the first package consisting of

- canaxis (plus 2 files from "magazine")
- good morning story
- linear city
- radiowave surfer

should be out in may follwed one month later by the new album "21 century" ...
posted by pracowity at 12:36 AM on March 3, 2006


Errr, no, don't, Faze, start off with Aphex Twin, Mu-Ziq and Squarepusher. They might have less current-gen cred than Venetian Snares, but they have the advantages of

a) Being incomparably better (insert IMHO here),

b) Not being named after a sequencer-editing pun involving wooden window blinds.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:49 AM on March 3, 2006


ereshkigal45: I knew I'd seen that Jane record somewhere recently, and I finally stumbled across it again. It's available at the first link I posted above, the amazing 8 Days In April. It's a big page, and it's right near the bottom, but if you do a search for the word Jane, you'll find it.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2006


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