As half of the legendary Krautrock duo Neu!, drummer Klaus Dinger pioneered the hypnotic, perpetual-motion rhythmic pattern later dubbed "motorik," creating mechanical yet profoundly human grooves that would galvanize successive generations of electronic and pop artists. Born in Germany on March 24, 1946, Dinger turned to music after dropping out of architecture. He first surfaced as a member of another massively influential group, Kraftwerk, replacing original drummer Andreas Hohmann during sessions for their 1970 self-titled debut LP. Guitarist Michael Rother joined Kraftwerk following the album's completion, but in 1971 he and Dinger split to form Neu!, teaming with producer Conny Plank to begin work on their first album, issued on Brain Records the following year. While Rother's guitar eschewed conventional chord changes in favor of evocative harmonic drones, Dinger's drums were pared to a simple, repetitious 4/4 rhythm he called the "Apache beat" but which latter-day music critics dubbed "motorik" in honor of the German word for "motor skill"-- songs like the ten-minute epic "Tellogallo" boast pulsing rhythms that seem to extend into infinity, with all the precision and engineering of a BMW racing across the Autobahn.
While the follow-ups Neu! 2 and Neu! ‘75 presaged everything from club remixes to punk, sales were limited -- still, the duo's influence proved vast, with Brian Eno later noting "There were three great beats in the '70s: Fela Kuti's Afrobeat, James Brown's funk, and Klaus Dinger's Neu! beat." After Neu! split up in 1975, Dinger mounted the electronic project La Düsseldorf with brother Thomas and Hans Lampe, later recording a series of albums credited to La! Neu? -- in late 1985, he and Rother also reunited for an aborted session finally released a decade later as Neu! 4. By that time the duo was cited among the looming influences on a generation of electronic pop and avant rock acts including Stereolab, Sonic Youth, and Radiohead. Dinger died of heart failure on March 20, 2008, just four days shy of his 62nd birthday. ~ Jason Ankeny