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Kraftwerk
February 14, 2009 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Kraftwerk and the Electronic Music Revolution. (amazon) A 3 hour long documentary detailing Kraftwerk's influences and career.

Influences and friends:

Amon Duul II (wiki)
Can 2 (wiki)
Pierre Schaeffer (wiki)
Karlheinz Stockhausen wiki
Tangerine Dream 2 (wiki)
Kluster (wiki)
Ash Ra Tempel (wiki)
Popol Vuh (wiki)
Forbidden Planet (wiki)
Klaus Schulze (wiki)
Harmonia (wiki)

Of course, lots of Kraftwerk links:

Their first group, Organisation (wiki)

These are roughly in chronological order:
Ruckzuck
Von Himmel Hoch
Kling Klang
Strom
Tanzmuzik
Ananas Symponie
Autobahn
Radioactivity
Trans Europe Express
Hall of Mirrors
Das Model
Metropolis
The Robots
Numbers
Pocket Calculator

Those that came after:

David Bowie & Eno 2
Eno & Cluster
Georgio Moroder 2 (wiki)
Jean Michel Jarre (wiki)
Yellow Magic Orchestra (wiki)
Human League (wiki)
Soft Cell (wiki)
Gary Numan wiki
Afrika Bambaata (wiki)

Not enough electronic music history? Follow up with these excellent documentaries:
High Tech Soul (the history of techno music)
Pump up the Volume 2 3 The history of house
posted by empath (33 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
YO DAWG
posted by nasreddin at 6:13 PM on February 14, 2009


Damn kids these days with all their bleepin' and blippin' that they call music. Get offa my lawn!
posted by jamstigator at 6:13 PM on February 14, 2009


Thank you so much. It's worth noting here that Kraftwerk has basically broken up now. Florian has left, leaving only Ralf.
posted by phrontist at 6:14 PM on February 14, 2009


i heard you like krautrock so i put kraftwerk in ur metafilter.
posted by empath at 6:14 PM on February 14, 2009


YO DAWG

WE HEARD YOU LIKE KRAFTWERK SO WE PUT A POCKET CALCULATOR IN YO CAR SO YOU CAN PRESS A SPECIAL KEY AND PLAY A LITTLE MELODY WHILE YOU'RE FAHREN FAHREN FAHREN AUF DER AUTOBAHN
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:17 PM on February 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Your "Those that came after" list omits Howard Jones.

I see what you did there.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:25 PM on February 14, 2009


Feel free to link more music I just included stuff that was mentioned in the documentary for the most part.

There are very few pop artists who were not influenced in some way by kraftwerk, particularly once electronic music became the dominant genre in the mid 80s.
posted by empath at 6:30 PM on February 14, 2009


Previously on Metafilter, with not a few links to music:
R.I.P., Klaus Dinger
A History of Techno
Rock Out With Your Kraut Out
posted by ardgedee at 6:36 PM on February 14, 2009


Und mehr Krautrock: Liaisons dangereuses -- Los Ninos del Parque; DAF -- Tanz den Mussolini
posted by grounded at 6:42 PM on February 14, 2009


DAF is no Krautrock.
posted by kolophon at 6:45 PM on February 14, 2009


This is an interesting film, although it's a bit wordy and lacks music as empath says. It gets better once it moves away from krautrock and focuses on Kraftwerk proper. The best commentators are Karl Bartos, who has some wry and nostalgic things to say about being a third wheel in the band, and Irish writer Mark Prendergrast, who is obviously kraftwerk's biggest fan ever but really really knows his stuff. He's particularly good on Bowie and Trans-Europe Express.
posted by dydecker at 6:50 PM on February 14, 2009


Are Kraftwerk Krautrock?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:55 PM on February 14, 2009


I fast forwarded past every one of Mark Prendergrast's comments, to be honest. A lot of words to say almost nothing.
posted by empath at 7:00 PM on February 14, 2009


flapjax -- i think they're early stuff is definitely krautrock --- check out Von Himmel Hoch. It's pretty fucking hard rock once it gets going.
posted by empath at 7:01 PM on February 14, 2009


I just dusted off Radioactivity again. Dang, that's good. Somewhat experimental noise, somewhat listenable music.
posted by Nelson at 7:02 PM on February 14, 2009


Thanks for the links empath!

I also highly recommend the book Generation Ecstacy by Simon Reynolds that links Kraftwerk in with the larger electronic music history.
posted by Severian at 7:04 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is great, thanks, but the thread needs a mention of the horribly under-appreciated Krautrock duo NEU! - who helped out on Kraftwerk's first recording but then left the group in 1971:

In the Holy Trinity of krautrock, Düsseldorf's NEU! (drummer Klaus Dinger and guitarist Michael Rother) were nowhere near as prolific as Can or Faust, but in the long run arguably more significant. NEU!'s output seems meager in comparison with their peers' bulging catalogs, but the three official albums released between 1972 and 1975 contain some of the period's most inspired and inventive music. Brian Eno has said, "There were three great beats in the '70s: Fela Kuti's Afrobeat, James Brown's funk and Klaus Dinger's NEU!-beat." There was more to it than that. NEU! were punk before punk; they pursued sounds and approaches that would become commonplace in industrial, ambient and other electronic musics; they were precursors of post-rock; and they experimented with what would later be called the "remix." After Dinger and Rother parted ways in 1975, their influence manifested itself immediately in punk and post-punk (everyone from Pere Ubu to PiL to Cabaret Voltaire to Sonic Youth). As their records went out of print and by the '80s circulated only as bootlegs, NEU!'s myth grew.

Seriously, anyone into Kraftwerk who hasn't heard the first NEU! record is missing out on a major treat. Be sure to get to the part in the Allmusic review that claims Autobahn was "a genteel reconsideration" of what NEU! had done first on their debut. A strong case can be made, is all I'm saying.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I fast forwarded past every one of Mark Prendergrast's comments, to be honest. A lot of words to say almost nothing.

Well, I'd say you missed the most insightful part of the film.
posted by dydecker at 7:06 PM on February 14, 2009


Recently rented this from Netflix. I was less interested in the other bands but it really got underway once they start talking about Kraftwerk.

Additionally, I was very impressed with the talking heads' analysis of the album covers, from the photography to the lettering, and how this contributed to the music. (Basically, something new wrapped up in something traditional and familiar-feeling, which gave people a reference point or a way into the music.)

I'll have to check NEU! out, thanks for the prod mediareport. Fantastic post.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:20 PM on February 14, 2009


They don't write songs like that any more. Real tunes! Today's popular beat combos could learn something.
posted by WPW at 7:21 PM on February 14, 2009


I feel like I should have linked Laurie Anderson.

And also some newer minimal techno with kind of a kraftwerk sound, especially from the Get Physical label.

Booka Shade
Electrochemie
M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shade remix of O Superman

Another classic minimal song that's enjoying a resurgence recently.
Plasticman - Spastik

I don't think those are direct musical children of kraftwerk, but the influence is there.
posted by empath at 7:27 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and how could i forget Trentemoller.
posted by empath at 7:31 PM on February 14, 2009


horribly under-appreciated

in what universe? I have been hearing about and listening to NEU! since I was a lad, I grew up in Mil-fucking-waukee.
posted by everichon at 7:41 PM on February 14, 2009


Are Kraftwerk Krautrock?

neither krautrock or kraftwerk, but - in 1976 i was getting high with some guys in college and they played gong's you album - my mind was blown - i had heard the future, and because i loved it - stuff like kraftwerk, amon duul 2, etc etc all made a certain amount of sense to me - even as the 80s came and the guitars were ditched for synthesizers

kraftwerk are right up there with the beatles as far as influence goes - i'm not exactly real into them, but i know how important they are and for me, it all comes out of krautrock (and disco) that went on to be techno and other stuff

so, my answer to the question is, it really doesn't matter - they transcended genre, as all great bands do
posted by pyramid termite at 7:47 PM on February 14, 2009


Dinger's post-Neu band La Dusseldorf were fantastic, too. Silver Cloud is one of the classic krautrock tracks, or at least definitely horribly under-appreciated.
posted by dydecker at 7:50 PM on February 14, 2009


in what universe?

The one in this thread when I got to it. Anyway, NEU! tunes on YouTube, including what looks like the whole 2nd album:

Hallogallo (you can definitely hear the Stereolab in this one)
Negativland
Fur Immer, from the 2nd album, and another key reference point for Stereolab (and a just plain fucking awesome rolling building epically catchy track)
Neuschnee 78, another great one
Hero, from the third album - a song some (including me) consider punkish ahead of its time
Isi, a much sweeter tune from the same release
posted by mediareport at 8:09 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh, man, Stereolab! I used to love Stereolab...until I realised they stole their best ideas from old Neu/Harmonia/La D records. What a bunch of fakers!

Check Jenny Ondioline vs Cha Cha 2000
posted by dydecker at 8:50 PM on February 14, 2009


> Autobahn was "a genteel reconsideration" of what NEU! had done first on their debut.

That's both true and misleading. Neu! is a record of some guys digging deep and studiously into new sounds. Autobahn is a record of some guys having fun. There's a lot of similarity in sound and style between them, but their goals are different.

Autobahn always struck me as a little odd in Kraftwerk's chronology, as their early work are gritty, driving and noisy and their later work made them superstars in part by becoming as mechanical-sounding as they could stand. For a little while, though, they proved they could be playful and be comfortable letting their audience in on it.
posted by ardgedee at 9:09 PM on February 14, 2009


Three more MeFi links
posted by lukemeister at 9:53 PM on February 14, 2009


Great post!

Another big record in the transition from kraut to techno was former Ash Ra Tempel guitarist, Manuel Göttsching's E2-E4 record.

Göttsching also helped produce an interesting but obscure little 10" single for a couple of German models, who upon deciding to try their hands at music, had been given a couple chords to start with by Kraftwerk's Ralf & Florian. Die Dominas was the result.
posted by p3t3 at 10:12 PM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


As influences go, one has to mention all of the Indie bands that added keyboards to their repetoire in the early 90s as direct descendants of Kraftwerk. It all started with Figurine, which was basically a novelty band between friends. This is their most serious song, but they were basically Kwrk with goofy vocals, mostly about being robots or using Email. Ben Gibbard from Death Cab was a fan and started working on a side project with James. The Postal Service album was a bigger hit than anyone imagined and hundreds of imitators and the resurgence of interest in electronic music was anointed with popularity.

Now it's common to hear distorted lines or warm analog keyboard washes in cute indie rock songs, but it never would have happened without a novelty band making worshipful fun of Ze Germans.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:31 AM on February 15, 2009


I enjoyed the documentary, but oh boy yes: it's a LONG three hours and spends a LOT of time lovingly documenting the German experimental scenes before it even starts to discuss Kraftwerk's work.

And it's also way too much in love with its subjects. Tangerine Dream are dismissed for falling into a commercial rut after Phaedra; Kraftwerk are lauded for increasingly selling themselves as commercial product. Vangelis and Jarre are dismissed as anodyne in one sentence; Gary Numan is simply an imitator. The only real criticism of their work comes five minutes from the end when the narrators question why, after laying the foundations for electronica, Kraftwerk then absented themselves for decades while the world moved on without them. And having asked the question, no effort is made to answer it. Ho hum.

I would have liked to hear more about how Kraftwerk influenced dance music, a subject which the documentary picks up at Georgio Moroder but then largely drops. It seems generally accepted that everything ultimately goes back to Kraftwerk -- but why, and how, and does it really?

I do agree with them on Trans-Europe Express, though: always loved that album the best.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:54 AM on February 15, 2009


Don't forget the pretty danged good chiptune tribute album 8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk as Performed on Vintage 8-Bit Video Game Systems. gwEm and Counter Reset's very British hip-hop reworking of "The Man-Machine" is one of my favorite things from the last few years.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:32 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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