Florian Schneider (1947-2020)

May 6, 2020 at 3:04 pm (Kraftwerk, Krautrock, Life & Politics, Music)

RA News: Kraftwerk cofounder Florian Schneider has died aged 73

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Klaus Dinger & Japandorf – “Udon” (Video – 2013)

May 14, 2019 at 6:47 am (Krautrock, Music)

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Kraftwerk – “Heimcomputer” (TV – 1982)

July 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm (Kraftwerk, Krautrock, Music)

Taken from the Austrian ORF TV programme Ohne Maulkorb, recorded in 1981 and broadcast in January 1982. This version is much different than the one on the Computer World album…

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Kraftwerk – “The Robots” (Promo Video – 1978)

July 15, 2018 at 5:43 pm (Kraftwerk, Krautrock, Music)

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Holger Czukay (1938-2017)

September 6, 2017 at 6:44 pm (Can, Krautrock, Life & Politics, Music)

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Jaki Liebizeit (1938-2017)

January 22, 2017 at 8:28 pm (Can, Krautrock, Life & Politics, Music)

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Kraftwerk – “The Catalogue” (2009)

April 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm (Kraftwerk, Krautrock, Music, Reviews & Articles)

Pitchfork Media review of Kraftwerk’s excellent box set collection The Catalogue. Written by Tom Ewing, Dec. 1, 2009…

Kraftwerk are a band trapped in the vast frame of their apparent influence. Aptly for a group so fascinated by travel they enjoy an image as the ultimate electronic pioneers — “the reason music sounds like it does today,” as one BBC documentary put it. Let’s take for granted then that it’s impossible to imagine modern pop music without Kraftwerk and try a more interesting thought experiment: Let’s try to imagine Kraftwerk without modern pop. What if they’d released the same body of work and influenced nobody? Would it still sound as good?

This box set is an opportunity to find out– a remastered, sealed-off package of what Kraftwerk (or at least remaining founder Ralf Hutter) would like you to consider its canon. This starts with 1974’s Autobahn. The three albums Kraftwerk made before are beloved of many fans, but the group routinely ignore them as inconvenient prologues charting the band’s messy discovery of electronics. The Catalogue skips past these to give you a run of five consecutive masterpieces, two albums whose flaws are at least intriguing, and then 2003’s very fine Tour de France. Most of these remasters are available as separate issues (due to licensing issues three of them aren’t in the U.S.), but the box as a whole is as full a Kraftwerk story as you’re likely to be officially offered. As such it invites you to consider their achievements and development in relation to themselves, not to wider history.

So why is Autobahn the official starting point? I like to think it’s because this was the record where the band suddenly hit on one of the things they could do better than anyone else — capture and make beautiful the precise sensations of everyday activity. Going for a drive, catching a train, using a computer, riding a bicycle — these are terribly mundane things to create sound-portraits of, but Kraftwerk find loveliness and power in them without ever losing a basic accuracy. You might think of “Autobahn” itself — the 22-minute breakthrough for this method — as a perverse take on psychedelia: a recreation of a mindstate, not the altered state of a trip but the low-level trance of day-to-day travel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can – “The Lost Tapes” (2012)

June 27, 2012 at 10:23 am (Can, Krautrock, Music, Reviews & Articles)

A June 19th review by Paula Mejia from the Prefix website of Can’s new 3-CD collection of unreleased songs, outtakes and jams from their archives. As with anything concerning Can, it’s brilliant stuff…

Reviewing a Can album is like trying to describe the very first time you heard the Velvet Underground, or explaining what a truly superb pizza tastes like as it dissolves onto your tongue — attempting to verbalize it just feels straight up contrived. The sole way to understand it is to experience it for yourself.

Even more astounding about the legendary German band’s unprecedented release, The Lost Tapes, is that these pieces of music were abandoned in the recesses of the Spoon archive for decades, unearthed accidentally when the band’s studio was sold to the German Rock N Pop museum. What’s more, the three hour-long collection only represents a mere ten percent of the thirty hours of unreleased live, soundtrack and studio material discovered within the archives.

Compiled by founder Irmin Schmidt and longtime collaborator Jono Podmore, The Lost Tapes is essentially a time capsule documenting the band’s progression, collectively constructed into something altogether eerie, awe-inspiring and innovative. The inevitable influence of avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (whom Irmin Schmidt and Holger Czukay both studied under) seeps into the immeasurable tapestry of sounds, blending everything from Southeast Asian-influenced instrumentation to atmospheric scores of films never released. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Can: The Documentary” (1999)

June 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm (Can, Krautrock, Music)

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Harmonia – “Musik von Harmonia” (1974)

September 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm (Krautrock, Music, Reviews & Articles)

This 2007 review by Sherman Wick comes from the Cosmik website. Harmonia were one of the great Krautrock supergroups featuring members of Cluster and Neu!, and later Brian Eno…

Categories provide simplification and generalization-especially in the music world. Music critics coin countless genres and sub-genres to link music and create connections between artists that actually only tenuously or entirely do not exist. For some groups-in particular, overtly commercial acts-the genres of pop, hip hop, punk, emo-punk, electronica et cetera are, unfortunately, far too appropriate and happily conformed to in order to continue to appeal to their record purchasing demographic. Admittedly, it is possible to excel within a genre-and categories act as a way of simplifying and understanding music. But for groups with exceptional artistic visions, the straightjacket of classification is too claustrophobic of a generalization-since they are not easily pigeonholed and willing to work in tight musical confines.

Harmonia exemplified a group that defied genre. Musik von Harmonia (1974) was the first collaborative effort between Cluster’s Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius and Neu!’s Michael Rother: a German supergroup, and genuine rarity, a colossal artistic success. The three members were skilled keyboard players, guitarists, electronic percussionists and composers. This was a group musically and conceptually miles ahead of its time. They have historically been lumped into the krautrock/kosmische musik genre (which is one of the most talented and forward-looking genres ever named). Among the seminal, disparate acts thrown in this category are: Popol Vuh, Can, Faust, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream. These groups share only a few common qualities: they are German speaking and creatively combine eclectic music forms of the past and present, especially early electronic, minimalist and avant-garde music. In interviews, the musicians deny a movement ever existed — and that they were scattered maverick groups attempting to overhaul or destroy the contemporary rock context. Read the rest of this entry »

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