Skip

Florian quits werk.
January 6, 2009 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Florian Schneider quits Kraftwerk. Posted here on 21 November but just making the news rounds now. Andy Gill remembers the Lennon and McCartney of Electropop. 39 years ago, it started like this.
posted by grounded (50 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess he finally got a downtown date.
posted by nasreddin at 9:33 PM on January 6, 2009


I love Kraftwerk, but I don't even know how this rates as news - they've released only two studio albums in 27 years, and neither came close to their classic albums. Put another way, they could have failed to announce this, and who would have noticed?
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:42 PM on January 6, 2009


39 years ago, it started like this .

Huh. So 1970 Kraftwerk sounded kinda like Can only without the spastic vocals?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:47 PM on January 6, 2009


I guess, after they got the gig for the theme song to Newton's Apple, all the royalty checks from Ira Flatow must have gone to his head.
posted by jonp72 at 9:49 PM on January 6, 2009


Join us for Night of the Schneiders on Metafilter. Next up: this guy, followed by the oddly similar this guy.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:51 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Put another way, they could have failed to announce this, and who would have noticed?

All the more reason to bring it to attention! And I just learned 20-odd years after the fact that they were sampled in Planet Rock.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:51 PM on January 6, 2009


So, uhh...
who's gonna be the operator of their pocket calculator?
posted by revmitcz at 9:56 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love Kraftwerk, but I don't even know how this rates as news - they've released only two studio albums in 27 years, and neither came close to their classic albums. Put another way, they could have failed to announce this, and who would have noticed?

They still tour somewhat consistently, and have made at least one big festival appearance per year throughout the current decade in addition to regular dates. In fact, the linked article says they're about to tour South America with Radiohead.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:56 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I just learned 20-odd years after the fact that they were sampled in Planet Rock.

Planet Rock didn't "sample" Trans Europe Express, even though everyone (mistakenly) says it did. The melodic hook was re-played on synthesizer, and the beat was a reinterpretation of the beat from Numbers/Nummern on a Roland 808. So really they more "re-interpreted" Kraftwerk. I'm not sure sampling technology was even advanced enough to sample and loop whole parts of songs in 1982, and if it was it would have required a Fairlight CMI or NED Synclavier, which were more expensive than most people's houses and weren't available except to the largest studios and richest rock megastars. Even still, I'm pretty sure CMIs and Synclaviers were still limited to single-note hits back then.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:05 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't even know how this rates as news - they've released only two studio albums in 27 years, and neither came close to their classic albums. Put another way, they could have failed to announce this, and who would have noticed?

He's a founding member of an incredibly important band. It's news. Fuck off.
posted by davebush at 10:05 PM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's not only that they could've failed to announce this and no one would've noticed...

They could've done a major world tour and no one would've noticed.

(It's not too late to get a replacement for the tour.)
posted by markkraft at 10:42 PM on January 6, 2009


revmitcz: who's gonna be the operator of their pocket calculator?

Fibrotown?

(Alas, they're gone too...)
posted by Pinback at 10:51 PM on January 6, 2009


I realize some people can't do better than "fuck off" as a response, but given Kraftwerk's very low profile, the fact that Florian didn't even tour in 2008 (none of the posters above even seem aware of this), the many reports of his own solo projects and disinterest in Kraftwerk over the past couple of years (recently in Mojo, and again, none of the above posters seem aware of this either) . . . well, again, this is hardly news.

I'd be the first to recognize Kraftwerk as being "important," but it's entirely on their 70s/80s laurels that this appellation rests. They've produced very little since 1981's "Computer World" - and nothing that one could truly call great . . . 1986's short and disappointing album, "Electric Cafe," a weak remix album ("The Mix"), a so-so live CD ("Minimum-Maximum," which in reality a remix album itself) and "Tour De France Soundtracks," which was fairly good, but actually just the best scavenged parts of many ideas going back as far as 1981.

Criticize my criticism all you want, but if you didn't realize that Florian functionally left the band quite a while ago, it's only news now because you weren't paying attention before!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:57 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Florian used to wear shirts with pictures of his own face on them.
posted by anazgnos at 11:06 PM on January 6, 2009


I saw them live (in Auckland, NZ) 6 days after the announcement, on the 27th of November, and I had no idea that he was being replaced by someone else. They still put on a really great live show.
posted by scodger at 11:30 PM on January 6, 2009


it would have required a Fairlight CMI

In '88 I worked in the studio where they recorded Planet Rock (Intergalactic). They had a Fairlight lying around. By then it had been superseded by the Akai S1000 and the Fairlight was used mostly as a keyboard stand. The studio had degenerated into recording Karaoke backing tracks. Those were the days.
posted by bhnyc at 11:37 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw them live (in Auckland, NZ) 6 days after the announcement, on the 27th of November, and I had no idea that he was being replaced by someone else. They still put on a really great live show.

That's kind of my point! An older friend of mine tells me that when "Autobahn" was a hit in America, the big playground rumour was that the entire band was killed in a plane crash, save one member. That member, a sort of mad scientist, built robots to take the place of the dead members, hence the "robotic" sound of the single. (In 1974, it must have been really weird sounding.)

Given their miniscule and largely uninspired output over nearly my entire lifetime, plus Florian's disappearance from the stage for a while now, plus his stated disinterest in the band, the most newsworthy thing about this announcement is that it made the news. Otherwise, few would ever have noticed.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:56 PM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw them live (in Auckland, NZ) 6 days after the announcement, on the 27th of November, and I had no idea that he was being replaced by someone else.

Yeah, in the scheme of things I guess it doesn't really matter that he left (although the end of Ralf and Florian's 39 year partnership is still definitely newsworthy). Their shows are so automated that they could train 4 unrelated random people to do them. As I once read in a review of one of their more recent shows, "they could have been playing Doom on [their laptops]". They have the 4 laptops playing back samples from their massive data library, and they maybe tweak a filter cutoff here and there.

They still put on a really great live show.

Agreed, even if it is basically "on rails".
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:20 AM on January 7, 2009


Although, to be fair, their live shows are no more predetermined than, say, Miley Cyrus or any other pop "singer". Probably less so.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:25 AM on January 7, 2009


Criticizing electronic music for being predetermined is like criticizing jazz for making it up on the spot. Or criticizing rock for being loud.
posted by dydecker at 2:36 AM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Think of all the new vital, forward-thinking music we won't be able to hear now that Kraftwerk's split up! THINK OF THE CHILDREN
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:46 AM on January 7, 2009


In other news, Ulli Kunkel has left these guys:


posted by LilBucner at 2:51 AM on January 7, 2009


(the punchline was Autobahn)
posted by LilBucner at 2:52 AM on January 7, 2009


Dinosaur rock fans aged 45 and over will remember the pulsating, eerily monotonous yet pioneering electronic sound of the smash hit "Autobahn" that launched the German band Kraftwerk on to the popular music scene back in the 1970s.

Because kids these days never listen to anything old, and Kraftwerk is rock. OK.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:26 AM on January 7, 2009


If Wolfgang is to be believed, Ralf and Florian are a couple of self-obsessed * with little compassion or humanity. As I understand it, they changed the credits on re-released classic albums to remove those who had left the band.

As noted above, it is remarkable how little the band have produced in the past 25 years (!). Wolfgang also suggests that the creativity of the electronic version of Autobahn came from Conny Plank, which I find easy to believe judging by their sound before and after it's release. Nothing sounds quite like it, although they try to copy the idea with Trans-Europe Express.
posted by asok at 6:05 AM on January 7, 2009


Metadiscussion.

I think the best Metafilter entries tend to be the ones that use a piece of news, like Schneider quitting officially (which I didn't know and I do consider it news to me), to assemble a collection of information using that news as a touchstone. Those always seem to be the most beloved of entries posted.

Let me take a shot at it:

Florian Schneider quits Kraftwerk. Posted here on 21 November but just making the news rounds now. Wikipedia has a large entry on the band (current) if you don't know their history and influence, but chances are you've probably heard a Kraftwerk-inspired song in the last month or so. Seeing them in action from their peak period in the 1970s gives you music that still sounds fresh.

Here they are in 1975. 1981. 1998. 2003. 2005.

Kraftwerk has been used in many cutting edge areas of computers, like this use of wireframe graphics for a music video or >a href="http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081123/0934552920.shtml">suing bands for using their samples. Maybe they're the group of the 20th century. There's some books you can read about them. Andy Gill remembers the Lennon and McCartney of Electropop. 39 years ago, it started like this.
posted by jscott at 6:14 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This just in: PREVIEW
posted by jscott at 6:16 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


if you didn't realize that Florian functionally left the band quite a while ago, it's only news now because you weren't paying attention before!

There was even a President's Daily Brief six months ago entitled "Florian Schneider Determined to Quit Kraftwerk," not that anyone paid it any heed.
posted by grouse at 6:30 AM on January 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


The KW website is really cool.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:46 AM on January 7, 2009



I realize some people can't do better than "fuck off" as a response, but given Kraftwerk's very low profile, the fact that Florian didn't even tour in 2008


I saw them in 2008, when they were one of the main stage acts of the Coachella Festival (which they'd played previously) as either a headliner or right before the headliners -- I'm not sure where you make that break. I'd previously read that Florian wasn't touring and was disappointed, but it was still a great show and they'd revised a lot of their visual material since their live tour album (2004) and played a great set.

They're not playing casinos in the middle of nowhere with no original members, they're opening for one of the largest touring acts and on the main stage at large festivals. I think that shows a little relevance.
posted by mikeh at 7:07 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never seen them live but watched quite a few vids on the YouTubes of their shows from the past decade. The crowd is very ecstatic when they come out, and then a renewed wave of appreciation washes over when their intiatial dicking around on their laptops finally resolves into one of their classics. But then afterwards it's kind of: "oh hey, there's that song I've heard many times before, slightly remixed with lots of graphics behind them" *smattering of applause*. Maybe they should make good on their previous promises during the Man Machine tour to just use animatronic robots to put on their "live" shows while they stay at home and rake in the cash of the non-discerning idiot fans. They've been one of my top favorite bands but I don't feel like Florian leaving is of any consequence at all.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:33 AM on January 7, 2009


initial dicking around, that is.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:35 AM on January 7, 2009


The band's current relevance hinges on your assessment of their catalog, that's coming through loud and clear, Dee Xtrovert.

I've got more to offer than a simple "fuck off", but sometimes, crude brevity does the job. Sorry, when an artist's 30+ year connection with his band comes to an end, that's newsworthy. I also think your general dismissal of their recent work is off the mark.
posted by davebush at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2009


sometimes, crude brevity does the job.

Only in very rare cases. In the case above it only indicates the crudity of the one who posted it, and the unreal and untenable emotional attachment people have to a band who has obviously only been cashing in for the last decade.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:45 AM on January 7, 2009


Huh. So 1970 Kraftwerk sounded kinda like Can only without the spastic vocals?

Can formed a year after Organisation (Rolf & Florian's first band together which became Kraftwerk). I think both bands had a good part in defining that sound.

That video linked perfomance of Ruckzuck was actually Organisation shortly before renaming themselves Kraftwerk.
posted by JBennett at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2009


Saw them live in 2004. I'm quite discerning. Did not feel like they were cashing in. Going in, I was apprehensive, but the show turned out to be quite thrilling - they obviously worked hard on the design of the performance.

Another point - although they're obviously not overly prolific, they do write and record, in addition to playing live. Who can say how his departure will change the direction of the music? That question certainly makes the news relevant to fans, at least. Idiot fans, even.
posted by davebush at 8:14 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


the big playground rumour was that the entire band was killed in a plane crash, save one member.

There was playground discussion of Kraftwerk?!
posted by ericthegardener at 8:17 AM on January 7, 2009


That 1970 video is badass, I had never seen that.
posted by everichon at 8:17 AM on January 7, 2009


Not sure how the hell I got all fanboy over this. It's just a band I like a lot. I'm done.
posted by davebush at 8:20 AM on January 7, 2009


There was playground discussion of Kraftwerk?!

Ja, auf dem Spielplatz in Tübingen.
posted by everichon at 8:40 AM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]



Criticizing electronic music for being predetermined is like criticizing jazz for making it up on the spot. Or criticizing rock for being loud.


Even ignoring how ignorant that statement is (electronic music is not "predetermined"), I was speaking specifically of Kraftwerk's live shows in the past 6 or 7 years, and not even really "criticizing" in the negative sense. The music and video is all presequenced and is the same on each show on a given tour, but it's still an entertaining show. The Pixies' reunion tour shows were all exactly the same too, for example, and those were still good shows (I thought so anyway, it's certainly debatable).
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:47 AM on January 7, 2009


Huge longtime Kraftwerk fan here. I even have a Kraftwerk tattoo!!!! How nerdy is that? Sorry to hear he left the band... at least I have seen them two times (back in 2004 & 2005 respectively) while Ralf and Florian were still together.
posted by flipyourwig at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2009


The music and video is all presequenced and is the same on each show on a given tour, but it's still an entertaining show.

Again, you say that like this is a bad thing. As I said upthread, this is the eqivalent of saying "Even though The Who overdistorted their amplifiers, I still enjoyed the show." It misunderstands the pleasures of the genre.

The beauty for me of electronic music is that it can be extremely accurate, deep, complex, and full of amazing possibility precisely because it is presequenced, predetermined, and preprogrammed. Like most electronic music, Kraftwerk's music isn't "performed" at all by musicians, it is executed by sequencers which have been programmed by musicians many months--or years in Kraftwerk's case--before. If that isn't predetermined, I dunno what is.
posted by dydecker at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2009


I even have a Kraftwerk tattoo!!!! How nerdy is that?

That depends...what image did you select?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 AM on January 7, 2009


Again, you say that like this is a bad thing. As I said upthread, this is the eqivalent of saying "Even though The Who overdistorted their amplifiers, I still enjoyed the show." It misunderstands the pleasures of the genre.

We're basically saying the same thing here, man. My only contention, I guess, is that "electronic music" is too broad a term - at a performance by say, Venetian Snares, there's more improvisation and performance than you may think. Kraftwerk's shows are heavily presequenced even by electronic music standards, and there's nothing really wrong with that, because it's still a fun show. My whole point was just that Florian leaving won't really effect their live shows.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2009


Again, you say that like this is a bad thing. As I said upthread, this is the eqivalent of saying "Even though The Who overdistorted their amplifiers, I still enjoyed the show." It misunderstands the pleasures of the genre.

I don't think that most listeners have any clue over how much is performed and how much is programmed. I know I sure didn't. I remember being so disappointed when I first saw the Who live and realized they were just using tapes for the synth parts on songs like "Won't Get Fooled Again". It hadn't sounded that hard to play. I could listen to an extended version of the intro or "Eminence Front" for a long time.

The last video of Kraftwerk I saw looked like they had four guys play synths live instead of guys "just dicking around on their laptops". I found this video of an early performance of Autobahn using live played synths, early electronic percussion and so on.

Programmed and lip-synched performances just aren't responsive to the audiences. Other than the fact that they have better amps and speakers, one might as well stay home.
posted by notmtwain at 11:02 AM on January 7, 2009


I even have a Kraftwerk tattoo!!!! How nerdy is that?

That depends...what image did you select?


The Kraftwerk robot.
posted by flipyourwig at 11:42 AM on January 7, 2009


Yeah, that Kraftwerk video is from around '73 - I guess their story is about moving from performed, improvised electro-acoustic music towards sequenced, quantized electronic music and that video catches them right before the switch - a year or two before sequencers, MIDI or drum machines became available to them.

I'm sure Florian would see this as a bug not a feature though ;) I could imagine him saying that rough one-finger Moog solos are not maximizing the capabilities of the instruments or something German like that.

BTW for many years Kraftwerk have refused to distribute their first two live, improvised albums - they saying that they weren't real Kraftwerk. I suppose he's right: the classic Kraftwerk idea is just a bit later I feel when they hit on the Man Machine stuff - they were the popularizers of the concept of letting the machines do it all - whether that makes for a good live show is up for debate I suppose, but it's an idea that has had an enormous impact on popular music since - perhaps more than any other group?
posted by dydecker at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


i don't agree with the notion that Minimum Maximum was just a remix (and live) album, there's so much more to it.

first and foremost i think Kraftwerk was and is a band about sonics, about playing with sonic material, often in the form of a rather disjoint concept, but still: centered on sonics.

if you listen close to tracks on Minimum Maximum such as Trans Europa Express you will find not only new, subtle arrangements of the original songs, but also completely fresh, newly written and/or programmed sounds (very close to the original ones, so not too obvious) but still, fresh, new sounds with more balanced harmonics and overtones.
just listen to the end of TEE and you will agree.

sad to see Kraftwerk go, but i enjoyed their music and attitude for over 30 years now, so it's time.
posted by Substrata at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2009




« Older The Art of Tomas Schneider   |   It's only a yellow line. How hard can it be? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post