FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY
Today I will bring up for discussion Kraftwerk and their albums released between 1974-1981. In 1974 Kraftwerk releases the classic Autobahn album. Although this album was not an instant worldwide success, Autobahn found its way into the basements, record stores, to DJs, and pawns shops around the United States, Europe, the UK, and eventually the world. In 1975 they released Radio Activity and although it is not as well know as Autobahn, is notably a more successful seamless album complete from start to finish. In 1977 they released Trans- European Express. This award-winning album solidified Kraftwerk’s identity and engrained the in history for their extravagant style and achievements, also their contribution to popular music. In 1978 they released The Man-Machine. Although this album was successful, it still did not reach the notoriety that was given to Autobahn. In 1981 they released Computer World. This futuristic album foretold the advancement of computers in our society. This album would also signify the peak of Kraftwerk’s careers. You may ask, why am I focusing on the careers of Kraftwerk in particular as German Artist, producing this weird robotic music, and why should you be interested? Well, I’m going to tell you. Kraftwerk Pioneered Electronic Music, picking up where Brian Eno had left off with his mastery of Ambient Music. Again you may ask why is this important? Well Kraftwerk laid the foundation for what we now call Pop Music, whom influence is ingrained in the fabric of world culture, our minds, hearts and souls like a distant relative always making an appearance and their presence known. The image and music of Kraftwerk was that of robots beating on drums and pushing buttons producing the most magnetic beats masked by rhythmic ambient transient sounds that take whomever is listening on a ride, a ride on the autobahn to be exact. Their style is likened to Brian Eno’s father’s self-playing piano. This machine when instructed to play, will play, and somehow invoke emotion in humans summarized of by Brian Eno. There are many instances where one could tell that they were heavily influence by Brian Eno, also American acts such as the Beach Boys and other American popular music. Kraftwerk worked tirelessly to become a contender in the mainstream music seen. To be known as a group to be reckoned with, and also to amplifying their German heritage. One of the reasons why Kraftwerk is known for influencing popular music is because of their approach to the music. They were scientific, studying American pop musicians and soul artist alike, and put together a formula that still is alive and kicking today. The beats were robotic and constant, enticing the listener to move although they, as robots in imagery did not move much, but moved in unison to the beat, adding on to the tension motivating the listener to move also, it was a call to action. For example in Hip-Hop, the artist would entice the audience by calling for them to wave their arms in the air like they just don’t care, followed by the unsurprising request for them to scream. Kraftewerk’s influenced notable artist like David Bowie directly, catapulting his music into the world’s ear that lasted for nearly a decade and beyond. The impression Kraftwerk had on me as a youth and now is the idea that art will transcend all obstacles, and will eventually reach the people. The title of Autobahn should have been in my opinion, “Dare to Be Different.” Take a listen and view a documentary, this group is worth the time. Don’t forget to add on and share with you friends the wonders of Kraftwerk. Until next time Bloggers, Peace.
(American Psychological Assoc.)
Littlejohn, J. T. (2009). Kraftwerk: Language, Lucre, and Loss of Identity. Popular Music & Society, 32(5), 635-653. doi:10.1080/03007760903251441
(American Psychological Assoc.)
Reinecke, D. M. (2009). “When I Count to Four …”: James Brown, Kraftwerk, and the Practice of Musical Time Keeping before Techno. Popular Music & Society, 32(5), 607-616. doi:10.1080/03007760903251425