A German band from the early 70’s changed the way music sound
Kraftwerk was created in the German city Düsseldorf; the band formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, fronted by them until Schneider’s departure in 2008. Their signature is easily recognizable driving; repetitive rhythms with strong melodies, minimalist strictly electronic instruments, almost naïve lyrics simplified and at times sung through a vocoder of computer speech software. The harmonies are classical western; however, these simplified lyrics are conceptual and enormously strong future oriented.
Description once exotic objects in our consumer culture that today are the most ordinary and important things surrounded with (similarities to pop art). In 1981 came the albums Computer Welt those lyrics singing about home computers, pocket calculators a conceptual work and vision of today’s world of computers. In 1986 came the album Electric Café and again Kraftwerk lyrics are about the telephone, mobile phones, and society builds upon electronic communication; still with the catchy melody laying on the top making their songs feel like any Beatles tunes sing along. Earlier work as the Autobahn (1974), Radioaktivität (1975) and Trans-Europe Expresss (1977) state a clear vision of the future, motorways, transportation, superfast trains, energy consumption etc.
No band has influenced pop culture more than Kraftwerk since the Beatles
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk distinctive sound was revolutionary and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music. No other band has influenced pop culture more than Kraftwerk since the Beatles, their massive impact on the sound and music for an artist such as Moby, David Bowie, R.E.M., Daft Punk, Orchestral Maneuver’s in the Dark, Madonna, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, and Fergie. It doesn’t stop their Techno music from Detroit would not have happened if it wasn’t the impact Kraftwerk had on ‘Belleville three’ (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson & Derrick May), who fused the repetitive melodies of Kraftwerk with funk rhythms.
Hip Hop roots are no exception for their influence; Trans Europe Express and Numbers mixed in Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and The Soul Sonic Force, one of the earliest hip-hop/electro hits. Richard D James (Aphex Twin), Björk, Joy Division and New Order were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk. David Bowie’s “V-2 Schneider,” released as B-side to the “Heroes” single, features on the album “Heroes,” is a tribute to Florian Schneider. Furthermore, the disco scene and later electronic music would not have been the same.
Kraftwerk Live at Tribal Gathering 1997
I have luckily seen the band play since the 80’s when I saw them at Rockefeller in Oslo, a 1000 capacity club, later the night. I even shared a few beers with Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider on an after a show in a club near the venue. In 1997, I saw them on the legendary dance festival Tribal Gathering in Luton outside London. The performance should be one of the key concerts in their history; clubland was at its highest point commercially and that night all other bands stopped playing simply because every other musician wanted to experience the band. Kraftwerk has always cultivated their own style, whatever trend going on in pop culture they resisted making changes; their total anti-fashion statement should turn to the fashion statement. After a concert, I had seen the members walk out of a venue without even being recognized, with a small sack, jeans and a jacket they looked like the most ordinary people.
The album The Man-Machine (German: Die Mensch Maschine), was released in 1978, and it is the album that created the fashion look this post is about. The album was recorded at their studio Kling Klang; however, due to the complexity of the recording, the album was mixed at Studio Rudas in Düsseldorf. The cover of the album produced in white, red and black and the design was highly inspired by the Russian artist El Lissitzky, and the moment named Suprematism. The cover shows the band members dressed in red shirts and black ties. Great website on Kraftwerk publications etc.
The tune from the album Das Model or “The Model should become one of the most selling records in Kraftwerk history, and the song is also a classic tune for the dance floor. Many of Kraftwerk cover art designed by German multi-artist and painter Emil Schult, his unique signature style highlighting his role in pioneering the unique aesthetic that eventually came to represent not just Kraftwerk, but an entire style ethos of the period, copied and admired still today. Schult style can remind of Russian communist propaganda posters; however, on acid as many of his paintings shows a dream of space or even an urge to break out of the strict frame of the design.
21st of November 2008, Kraftwerk officially confirmed Florian Schneider’s departure from the band; Floridan is one of the original members from the start. Kraftwerk has not only a pioneer electronic music but pushed the limits of music technology with some notable innovations, such as custom-built devices and self-made instruments. The Kling Klang studio has always been perceived as a complex music instrument as well as a sound laboratory; especially Florian Schneider developed a fascination for music technology, sponsored from computer brands as IBM and Sony. Donatella Versace used the theme of Kraftwerk “The Man-Machine” in their menswear line to create a contemporary spin. Alexandre Plokhov head of menswear at Versace, he ushered in a new skinny tailored silhouette. Lean black suits were worn with high-necked red shirts or T-shirts for a look that channelled the German band Kraftwerk.
Kraftwerk was immortalized when they were performing eight shows at the Museum of Modern Art from April 10th through April 17th, 2012 and Tate Modern, the concert sold out so fast the ShowClix servers crashed. I guess almost every single artist was visiting MoMA or Tate Modern for one or more Kraftwerk concerts; from REM’s Michael Stipe, shipping scion Stavros Niarchos and curator Vito Schnabel, consisted mainly of male hipsters, art types and electronic enthusiasts in a series of concerts understood as “a visual and phonic feast. Kraftwerk finally released The Catalogue box set on 16 November 2009, a 12? LP-sized box set containing all eight mastered CDs in cardboard slipcases, as well as LP-sized booklets of photographs and artwork for each individual album.
Kraftwerk Music Non-Stop
- WHO: Kraftwerk
- WHERE: Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
- GENRES: Krautrock, avant-garde, EDM, experimental, synthpop
- ESTABLISHED: 1970-present
- MEMBERS: Ralf Hütter – lead vocals, vocoder, synthesizers, keyboards, organ, drums, and percussion, guitar, bass guitar (1970–1971, 1971–present) Fritz Hilpert-electronic percussion, sound engineering (1987) and Florian Schneider (no longer a member)
Songs on Man Machine
- The Robots, Die Roboter
- The Model, Das Modell
- Neon Lights, Neonlicht
- The Man-Machine, Die Mensch-Maschine
- Kraftwerk (1970)
- Kraftwerk 2 (1972)
- Ralf und Florian (1973)
- Autobahn (1974)
- Radioaktivität (1975)
- Trans-Europe Express (1977)
- Die Mensch-Maschine (1978)
- Computerwelt (1981)
- Electric Café (1986)
Bands and Artists Influenced by Kraftwerk
- David Bowie
- Daft Punk
- Orchestral Maneuver’s in the Dark
- Kanye West
- Missy Elliott and Fergie
- U2, Neon lights
- Uwe Schmidt Senor Coconut,
- Dr. Alex Paterson the Orb
- Afrika Bambaataa Planet Rock
- Simple Minds, Neon lights
- Depeche Mode
- Franz Ferdinand
- Coldplay, Talk
- Official website of Kraftwerk www.kraftwerk.com