Pyrolator is the solo guise of German synth experimenter Kurt Dahlke, best known as a member of the groundbreaking post-punk/synth pop band Der Plan. Like that group, Pyrolator was chiefly inspired by the synthetic sleekness of Kraftwerk and the dissident surrealism of the Residents, fitting squarely into the emerging German new wave movement. However, Dahlke also drew from the experimental side of post-punk, employing proto-industrial beats and tape collages for a distinctly off-kilter brand of electronic pop.
Dahlke began his career as a charter member of D.A.F., helping to found the Atatak label that issued their first album, but left that group very early on to pursue other projects. He quickly formed Der Plan with Frank Fenstermacher and Moritz "RRR" Reichelt, but actually beat his new band to the punch by issuing Inland, his debut album as Pyrolator, on Atatak in 1979. Using found environmental sounds and implicit social commentary in place of lyrics, Inland received positive reviews in Germany and earned Pyrolator a cult following.
The 1981 follow-up, Ausland, was even more acclaimed, expanding Dahlke's audience, and gained some positive notice in England as well. Third album Wunderland appeared in 1984, the same year Dahlke teamed up with A.K. Klosowski for the groundbreaking sampling experiment Home Taping Is Killing Music. Meanwhile, Dahlke continued to record extensively with Der Plan, and also served as a producer for numerous other German artists. His fourth album as Pyrolator arrived in the form of 1987's Traumland, although he did team up with Linda Sharrock and Frank Samba for Every 2nd, a collaborative album of music for the German Olympic pavilion at the 1988 Seoul Games. A similarly conceived single, "Ficcion Disco," appeared in 1992.
Dahlke stayed with Der Plan into the mid-'90s and also continued his production work. When Der Plan disbanded, Dahlke and Frank Fenstermacher reteamed under the name A Certain Frank, issuing the first of several albums in 1996. Still involved with Atatak, Dahlke also served as producer and remixer for contemporary electronica artists, including Kreidler, To Rococo Rot, and Stereo Total, among others. He also became involved with Burkina Electric, and in 2011 released his fifth Pyrolator album, Neuland, which had more of a straightforward, minimal techno sound than his previous output. Following a few limited split 12" singles, Pyrolator released Con-Struct, an album containing reworkings of material by the late Conrad Schnitzler, in 2015. ~ Steve Huey