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Kraftwerk

During the mid-'70s, Germany's Kraftwerk established the sonic blueprint followed by an extraordinary number of artists in the decades to come. From the British new romantic movement to hip-hop to techno, the group's self-described "robot pop" -- hypnotically minimal, obliquely rhythmic music performed solely via electronic means -- resonates in virtually every new development to impact the contemporary pop scene of the late- 20th century, and as pioneers of the electronic music form, their enduring influence cannot be overstated. Kraftwerk emerged from the same German experimental music community of the late '60s which also spawned Can and Tangerine Dream; primary members Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter first met as classical music students at the Dusseldorf Conservatory, originally teaming in the group Organisation and issuing a 1970 album, Tone Float, in the U.K. Schneider and Hütter soon disbanded Organisation, re-christening themselves Kraftwerk (German for "power station"), beginning work on their own studio (later dubbed Kling Klang), and immersing their music in the fledgling world of minimalist electronics; their 1971 debut, titled simply Kraftwerk 1, offered a hint of their unique aesthetic in its earliest form, already implementing innovations including Schneider's attempts at designing homemade rhythm machines.

A series of lineup shifts followed, and at one point Hütter even left the group; however, by the release of 1972's Kraftwerk 2, he and Schneider were again working in tandem. Recorded without a live drummer, the album's rhythms relied solely on a drum machine, creating a distinctly robotic feel without precedent -- the concept of purely technological music was, at the time, utterly alien to most musicians, as well as listeners. A series of well-received live performances followed before Kraftwerk began work on their breakthrough third LP, 1973's Ralf and Florian; honing their many ambitions down to a few simple yet extraordinarily innovative concepts, their music began growing more and more revelatory -- even their clean-cut, scientific image was in direct opposition to the dominant pop fashions of the time. Kraftwerk's first album to be issued in the U.S., 1974's Autobahn was an international smash; an edited single version of the epic title track was a major hit at home and abroad, and in America the previously unknown group reached the upper rungs of the pop albums chart. Performed in large part on a Moog synthesizer, Autobahn crystallized the distinctive Kraftwerk sound while making the group's first clear overtures towards conventional pop structure and melody, establishing a permanent foothold for electronic music within the mainstream.

Kraftwerk resurfaced in 1975 with Radio-Activity, a concept album exploring the theme of radio communication; indicative of the group's new global popularity, it was released in both German and English-language editions, the latter appearing early the following year. Train travel emerged as the subject of 1977's Trans-Europe Express, which marked an increased movement towards seeming musical mechanization; the line became even further blurred with the follow-up, 1978's aptly titled The Man Machine, a work almost completely bereft of human touches. By this time, the members of Kraftwerk even publicly portrayed themselves as automatons, an image solidified by tracks like "We Are the Robots." Having reached the peak of their influence, however, the group disappeared from view, the first of many extended absences to follow; they did not return to action prior to 1981's Computer World, a meditation on the new global dominance of technology -- a society their music long ago predicted and pre-dated. After topping the British charts with the single "Computer Love," Kraftwerk again vanished, enjoying a five-year layoff culminating in the release of 1986's Electric Cafe. By now, however, pop music was dominated by synthesizers and drum machines, and the group's stature flagged; but for a 1991 best-of collection titled The Mix, they remained silent during most of the decade. They finally released a new single, "Expo 2000," in late 1999, and surprised fans by announcing tour dates. On the recording front, Kraftwerk celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Tour de France with a new version of their 1983 single "Tour de France," and followed with a full album (Tour de France Soundtracks) in August 2003. The live record Minimum-Maximum followed in 2005. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Kraftwerk 1

Comments

When I was a kid, my KISS-loving friend and I would play his parents' copy of Autobahn on the record player, and laugh and laugh.
the 3d show at the Disney concert hall was amazing. Trippy as hell!
zapmc
Saw them at the 9:30 Club this weekend. Great show. Oooooo in 3-D.
They were at the Walt disney concert hall last month they did 8 shows in 4 days I worked 3 out of the 4 days and it was the first time I heard them live and their music and it was awesome
Love these guys! Saw them at The Ritz in NYC in August of 1981. Love the whole Computer World album, and love Autobahn. Another favorite song is The Model, both English an German versions
Found these guys out through Throbbing Gristle. I've got to say, these guys are great. After listening to this, I'm fine with robots taking over the world.
Daft Punk were influenced by Kraftwerk.
Many many many bands were influenced by kraftwerk, such as Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark. Joy division, Depeche mode, and the Human league. Paul mccarthy and Andy of omd were influenced by kraftwerk and started music with electronics synthesizers because of kraftwerk. So thank the robots!
THE! FATHER'S OF ALL! TECHNO!!!
Is Tony Bongiovi there uncle to?
Kraftwerk is the original pioneers of mixiing beats
jeffreymqs64 1
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ДаЗдравсгвуе т КРАФТВЕРК :) :)
My favorite is autobahn
hanswdrews
Man Machine - one of my all-time favorite albums!
Sprockets
Camp mendocino when I was seven this one of the counslers did a air rock show to we are the robots in a outdoor amputheater it blew me away I ve been more mosically apt and open to music every since they are sampled more then most know
Their music sounds like modern industrial design... I think of machines and technology with their sound... They were way ahead of their times...
In 1970 or 71 Kraftwerk had a very cool song called Ruckzuck. Florian shows off his fute on this song. It is on youtube on their album with the striped road cone. It is worth a listen... These guys set the trends in music for generations later. Trans Europe Express is the best song about a train ever written... Kraftwerk in German means Power station pretty fitting...
disturbed041 2
WOW!!!!! (MEMORIES) I USED 2 BREAKDANCE DANCE 2 THIS.... BOGGIE DOWN BRONX!! 80's
"Music Non Stop" Pop pop, ....pop pop pop!! Awesome track!!!
Jams in the park in HARLEM, 201 and all the community centers true old school break beats. Miss the 80's
I remember brake dances and pop locking to this in high school back in the 80s
I really like it , it has my ear drums going in a BOOM BOOM BEAT
"Now is the time on sprockets ven ve dance!"
TOUR DE FRANCE one of thee best breakdance jams EVER...
lburris597
Kraftwerk is such a musical force in my life now. Listening to them always gets me high.
Awesome Germans.
Kraftwerk has music to be listened to, unlike the other techno bands. It is somewhat you can listen to in your own mind so to speak.
solarbass10
Kraftwerk is my all time favorite group

Nice club jam.
They also did the soundtrack to Near Dark...and many more I assume.
kingmail
I liked their earlier work which was mostly classical.
Who's Raymond Scott
I saw these guys in L.A, Fantastic show even though I only saw 1/2 of it..I was so far to the left that I could only see the right side of the stage! These guys tour like once every 5 years and only 2-3 gigs in USA. If you can see them, do it. Its not so much a concert as a multimedia show with super cool graphics and of course the playing robots on stage while the real performers walk out into the audience and sit and watch. Then they go back and dress in their fiber optic suits COOL!
kahelfrich
I saw them in Cleveland during the 1981 Computer World tour. Awesome experience!
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!
dan.r.mooney
Raymond Scott was way before Kraftwerk's time, he is an electronic music pioneer. Check him out
Wow, I would love to see them, bpowell347!! You are lucky. They are such innovators way ahead of their time as far as electronic music goes.
bpowell347
Can't wait to see them at the MoMA. I actually got tickets. I've waited 30 years for this!
sigalos
My name's Saad and I don't give a f**k.
Thanks Kraftwerk. You really opened a pandora box of many styles that was influenced by your music.
Kieth Emerson's sounds and style were a big influence when they picked up the moog early on. But they didn't follow and took it in their OWN direction! I got a chance to play with them once-but that's another story!!!!!!
Coldplay's Let's Talk borrows from and the liner notes give credit to Kraftwerk's Computer Love
I always thought Kraftwerk had an interesting style. They're the only major band I can think of that is clean cut, and wears suits and ties. Of course, their music is also very clean sounding, so it fits them well. Vielen Dank, Kraftwerk, für die Musik!
jcarltone3
always liked these guys but do not understand paying tribute to a highway where vehicles travel at unsafe speeds hey for that matter do not understand cars at all i do not own one and am fortunate enough to live someplace where you do not need one
I was Gonged in high school acting like a robot to We Are The Robots, can't beleave how well Space Lab still holds up!
They were definitely ahead of their time as far as electronic music goes and techno. Those Germans can make some damn good electronic stuff!!
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