One of the greats of German music are the renowned band formed in the early 1970’s Kraftwerk which translates to “power station”. One of many of the genre of music called krautrock, many bands credit this band as their inspiration. With innovation being their gift at the time to the music industry, they are credited as being the godfathers of many genres of electronic music such as synthpop or British new wave, drum and bass, and hip hop.
They are the godfathers of electronic music.
Kraftwerk sometimes translated their songs from German to other languages like the “The Model” for example into English
In the early to late 1960’s, the loose genre of krautrock started experimenting with different sounds, inspired by experimental jazz and the psychedelic rock. The experimentation of music by musicians like Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, gave the krautrock artists some inspiration to create their own fusions. Krautrock, was not exactly a type of definable music, but a way of describing the loose experimental type of music which came out of Germany at the time. Unlike the psychadelic rock, this genre did not revolve around the use of drugs to find their inspiration. Another notable band from the genre were electronic band Tangerine Dream who created many instrumentals for movie soundtracks of the time and also influenced many bands.
At the time pop music was dominated by American and British artists and a type of music that grew out of blues music. A groundswell was rising from inside Europe for music that resembled the feelings of the Europeans but with a more modern twist . The Germans were inspired by post war sentiments, technology, German urbanisation and the future. A feature of the music was looping the beat and minimalistic use of instruments with catchy sounds.
Kraftwerk’s innovation were their first early achievements. The types of musical instruments and technology they needed to produce a distinct sound of their own were not present at the time. They built the vocoder, a machine that manipulated their voice to sound like a computer generated voice, and the original electronic drum kit to create their own distinct sound . It wasn’t until 1975 when the song “Autobahn” made people start to take notice of them. Then the success started to come constant.
Kraftwerk’s lyrics deal with post-war European urban life and technology—traveling by car on the Autobahn, traveling by train, using home computers, and the like. Usually, the lyrics are very minimal but reveal both an innocent celebration of, and a knowing caution about, the modern world, as well as playing an integral role in the rhythmic structure of the songs. Many of Kraftwerk’s songs express the paradoxical nature of modern urban life—a strong sense of alienation existing side-by-side with a celebration of the joys of modern technology.
This passage from Wikpedia’s Kraftwerk page gives us a bit of insight into the bands inner inspiration. Click here to see full article
Over the years the main core of Kraftwerk were Florian Schneider and Ralph Hütter, but the line-up changed as time went along and each new member brought another touch to the bands innovation.
Bands who claim that Kraftwerk have influenced them are Gary Numan, Human League, Depeche Mode, Franz Ferdinand, Yazoo, and Moby to name a few
But if you want music to show what this band has to offer here are our 5 favourite songs from Kraftwerk
1 Das Model- Also in English- The Model
3 We Are Robots– (This video features robot mannequins of the band members)
4 Tour de France
5 Radioactivity- this video shows how they used their electric drums to produce their own distinctive sound
If you think the great music starts there try a Youtube search of songs like Computer Love, Tanzmusik, Neon Lights, Megaherz, Trans-Europe Express, just to get your ears listening to some more of their great music
- Ach Mein Gott, a Krautrock Tribute Show! (lineout.thestranger.com)
- The History of Synthpop: Synth Britannia Documentary (sonicalkaline.wordpress.com)