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Kommen Sie bitte, und listen to Kraftwerk
April 4, 2008 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Kraftwerk have been around for nigh on forty years. They take a bit of getting used to if you are new to them, but the rewards are great. Even if you are a cynic.

Kraftwerk defined a German push in post-war identity and subsequently laid foundations for the 4 to the floor that alot of us love as well as ambient, trance and chill-out... so Kommen Sie bitte, und listen to Kraftwerk.
posted by Frasermoo (31 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kraftwerk's awesome. I was introduced to them a year ago through Bootwerk, a great tribute album of mashups, and I've listened to them ever since.
posted by flatluigi at 8:36 PM on April 4, 2008


Kraftwerk are absolute legends, and rightly so. That live "Tour de France" link is killer!
posted by Mikey-San at 8:50 PM on April 4, 2008


Agree. They are fantastic.
posted by jockc at 8:55 PM on April 4, 2008


I still get a bit weepy every time I hear "Neon Lights" (which isn't all that often, but still). The extended shimmering keyboards segment in that song is something that transcends the mundane and hollow realms that pass for music and enters into a whole other quality of brilliance.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:57 PM on April 4, 2008


thanks Burhanistan. Neon lights was under played for me. What a loveley tune.
posted by Frasermoo at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2008


I was introduced to them a year ago through Bootwerk, a great tribute album of mashups

True Kraftwerk purist story: Once, some punk sophmore DJ at the local university radio station was doing some awful live mashup of Kraftwerk and something like NIN. This was in my youth in which I could often be found in, um, gear adjusted states. Anyways, this guy's attempt to be cute with a favorite band of mine resulted in me calling up the station and threating to come down there and smash his equipment if he didn't stop that right now. He was the only one in the station at the time so he answered the call. He hung up and then immediately played only the Kraftwerk track.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, luckily you don't know where I live.

right?
posted by flatluigi at 9:09 PM on April 4, 2008


It's interesting to see what the Krautrock bands did as they progressed. I think we can safely say that Kraftwerk has had the most overall influence on popular music today. (Machine, machine, machine, machine...)
posted by not_on_display at 9:12 PM on April 4, 2008


^flatuligi: Better check your profile, bud.
posted by not_on_display at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2008


Weirdly, along with the Kitty Cat Dance, Kraftwerks The Model is one of my one and a half year old daughters favourite Youtubes that she likes to watch while sat on my lap.

It's funny how when I was growing up everyone thought they were a novelty act, and now, well, their music stands up very well indeed, better than most 80s pop.
posted by Artw at 9:23 PM on April 4, 2008


Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!
(or read a Kraftwerk FAQ page [v 14.2])
posted by not_on_display at 9:30 PM on April 4, 2008


I am really enjoying the Aero Dynamik link. I've always thought that I would enjoy Kraftwerk, but never actually listened to them.

Can someone recommend some albums to get started with them? I'd like to get this on my iPod as soon as possible!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:01 PM on April 4, 2008


I get to see them play in 3 weeks!

Im so excited. I missed them at Coachella 04, but I wont miss em this time.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:04 PM on April 4, 2008


My first exposure to Kraftwerk was my dad's copy of Autobahn, which may be my first instance of "I get it" when exposed to (what was then) avant-garde. What was I, four years old? How could I not like a song about cars sung by robots?

It's amazing how they progressed from that to this, which my father wouldn't recognize. They were there in the background as I went through new wave in the eighties, and what a surprise (yet still kind of obvious) that they were part of the roots of hip hop.

And sadly, so much of electronic music in since then has been absolute dreck. If there's ever been a band who didn't deserve its followers, it's Kraftwerk.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:34 AM on April 5, 2008


Here's some nice dancing set to "Europe Endless," which pretty much obliterates my "didn't deserve its followers" idea. Sorry.

Think about this while you're breakdancing:
Band member Wolfgang Flur explains, "All of us in the group are children who were born straight after World War Two. So, we had no musical or pop culture of our own, there was nothing behind us there was the war, and before the war we had only the German folk music. In the 1920s or 1930s melodies were developed and these became culture that we worked from. So, I think it was in us, ever since we were born; I cannot explain us, but it is us. It is romantic, childish, maybe, it is naive, but I cannot do anything about it. It's in me."
Cultural cross-pollination takes on many strange forms, doesn't it?
posted by hydrophonic at 12:56 AM on April 5, 2008


Ha! I've been waiting for an excuse to post Bill Bailey's tribute to Kraftwerk.
posted by randomination at 1:45 AM on April 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Kraftwerk are truly brilliant – I have had the pleasure of seeing them live twice. The first concert (back in the early nineties, say 1991-92) was voted Best Concert of the Year by the readers of a popular music magazine in Denmark – not bad considering the concert venue held approx. 1500 people. If anything, the last concert (in 2004) was better – while they certainly aren't the most lively bunch on stage (I would love to see, what they actually do with their instruments), their sound and video are incredible. This concert tour was later released as Minimum-Maximum.

Kraftwerk have been covered by quite a few – for a slightly different kind of cover, I would recommend the Balanescu Quartet's version of Autobahn – quite powerful, when experienced live!

As to which album to start with, that really depends – if you like their later, more polished style, I would recommend the above mentioned live album. For classic Kraftwerk, I would suggest Die Mensch-Maschine (The Man Machine) as their masterpiece. This is btw. the album with Neonlicht.
posted by bouvin at 3:21 AM on April 5, 2008


Holy shit, this takes me back. I used to ride my bike to work with Aero Dynamik on my Walkman (remember those?) Awesome video, thanks a bunch.
posted by normy at 6:26 AM on April 5, 2008


If you're looking for creating covers of Kraftwerk, check out Senor Coconut's 'El Baile Aleman'. Latin covers of their songs done by Uwe Schmidt (the guy behind Atom Heart).
posted by vernondalhart at 8:41 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


*presses down a special key*
posted by cortex at 9:27 AM on April 5, 2008


it plays a liitle melody
posted by ClanvidHorse at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2008


'Radioactivity' live. One of my favourite Kraftwerk tracks, now even better.
posted by carter at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2008


vernondalhart, I saw Senor Coconut perform their Kraftwerk material live in Montreal in 2003(?). It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. They played at the Mutek festival. I think the venue they were in held ~3000 people. Mutek tended to draw a pretty "serious" electronic music crowd, and I think many of them were confused by this full latin band playing latin covers of Kraftwerk. There was also a ~200 person congo line on the dance floor. A couple of nights before this we all got to see Coil perfom in the same venue.

I'm getting all wistful for the past now.
posted by vansly at 12:34 PM on April 5, 2008


Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!

I actually made a loop of Electric Cafe and sped it up to recreate the Sprockets theme once. Yeah, I have no life.

I am a huge Kraftwerk fan, to the point where I have all their releases in English and German. I even have Tone Float by Organisation (the precursor band to Kraftwerk). The really incredible thing about them is how they made such amazing music with such primitive equipment, some of which they built themselves. I mean, in those times, synths ran on control voltage and the only way you had to sequence them was a step sequencer that held maybe 64 individual notes. And that was cutting edge shit. No sampling, no ProTools, not even a Fairlight workstation or equivalent that could do complex sequences. Their planned followup to Computer World was scrapped because digital/sampling technology was emerging, and they ended up having to scrap their whole studio and start over.

Now, of course, their live shows are done on four laptops. I once saw a review of one of their recent shows that said "they could have been playing Doom on there for all I know". Another thing I love about them is that they don't refer to themselves as musicians, they call themselves "Musikarbeiter" or "music worker". They see the process of creating their music as equivalent to being a factory worker, and KlingKlang studio is their factory. It's a really cool, forward-thinking concept.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:47 PM on April 5, 2008


MACHINE MACHINE MACHINE MACHINE MACHINE MACHINE MACHINE MACHINE
posted by porn in the woods at 2:23 PM on April 5, 2008


Their first lineup, featuring the late, great Klaus Dinger, is not to be missed if you haven't heard it - motorik meets stoner metal:

Live on Radio Bremen, 1971
posted by ryanshepard at 7:50 AM on April 6, 2008


Once, some punk sophmore DJ at the local university radio station was doing some awful live mashup of Kraftwerk and something like NIN.

I've a feeling taht might be the Kraftwerk/Depeche Mode mashup from flatlugis link, which also includes what sounds like a NIN sample. It's pretty horrendous, an insult to pretty nmuch all it's source material (possibly even including Reznor), and makes me want to punch people due to it's sheer awfulness.
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2008


1986, and yeah the graphics are rubbish now, but that bit with the "ahh-ha-ha-ha" is still genius. Theres no messing with the snare. Here it is live, sounding filthy as ever.

Plus it's more fun to compute.
posted by 6am at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2008


Admittedly, first time I heard them was in the soundtrack of one of the Breakin' movies. Turbo dancing with a broom to Kraftwerk. Man.
posted by assoctw at 8:53 AM on April 8, 2008


Now, of course, their live shows are done on four laptops. I once saw a review of one of their recent shows that said "they could have been playing Doom on there for all I know".

I can't find the link, but I remember reading that all four of them are running Cubase SX. If you watch videos, you can see that they've got what appear to be MIDI controllers built into their laptop stands. So they can both trigger loops in addition to playing things live.

As to who exactly is triggering what, uh... You'd have to ask them, and they don't like answering questions, I hear.

More generally: These guys have an incalculable effect on music in general, as well as me personally. While I love all their albums to pieces, if I had to pick just one recording, it'd probably be Minimum-Maximum. If I could pick the DVD version, rather than just the audio, obivously that would be optimal.
posted by sparkletone at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2008


Ah.

Here we go.

The original page is gone, but archive.org still has the thing I was thinking of about Kraftwerk and Cubase.
posted by sparkletone at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2008


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