Publicity Agents Music Series: The Man-Music Machines - KRAFTWERK
Trans-Europe Express, Numbers, Tour de France, The Robots
Before Depeche Mode, Information Society, New Order, Human League, Gary Numan or Afrika Bambaataa, there were the impressive sounds of German band Kraftwerk.
Kraftwerk’s place in music history “established the sonic blueprint” that ushered in the formats the British new romantic movement to hip-hop to techno the group’s signature “robot pop,” All Music prescribed of the musicians that form a quintet.
Back in 1970, at Düsseldorf Conservatory, classical music students Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider started Kraftwerk, which means “Power Station” in German. Their innovative ideas coincided with their multi-instrumentalist skills that crossed many musical genres.
Boy (Mickey Rourke)
Photo courtsey of Universal Pictures
With their clean-cut, science-teacher presence on stage, at times resembling artificial intelligence, Kraftwerk was responsible for classic tunes such as “Trans-Europe Express (Autobahn),” “The Robots (The Man-Machine),” “Numbers (Numbers),” and the 1983 single Tour de France. Kraftwerk’s sound also resonated with the Chicago House Music scene during the 1980s.
Hütter handled the lead vocals for Kraftwerk, though the vocoder, synthesizers, keyboards, organ, drums and percussion, bass guitar, and guitar were his areas of expertise. Hütter continues to tour with the band in the 21st century.
Schneider specialized in synthesizers, background vocals, vocoder, computer-generated vocals, acoustic and electronic flute, live saxophone, percussion, electric guitar, and violin. Schneider exited from the band in 2008. But was the brains around constructing rhythmic contraptions.
But had their best success with Wolfgang Flür (electronic percussion) and Karl Bartos (electronic percussion, live vibraphone, live keyboards) from 1973 to 1985.
The band members were attracted to the sounds of the Beach Boys, the Ramones, and funk music presented by James Brown. Kraftwerk's mechanically electric sound has been sampled by the best in the music business.
Jay-Z, Missy Elliot, Madonna, R.E.M., David Bowie, Daft Punk, Kanye West, Cold Play, et al, have had their hands deep in Kraftwerk's legacy.
The Guardian's reporter Jude Rogers' January 2013 article puts Kraftwerk in perspective. The founders of the band were ahead of the times. But cleverly used the past to connect with the present and future.
Kraftwerk credits a famous German director who fled the Nazis and the scientist who made the V-2 bomb, Rogers wrote.
"We are the children of Fritz Lang and Werner von Braun," Hütter said as a statement in Chris Petits' cult film Radio on, linking Kraftwerk's past to the present. "We are a link between the 1920s and 1980s. All change in society passes through a sympathetic collaboration with tape recorders, synthesizers and telephones. OUR REALITY IS AN ELECTRONIC REALITY."
By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist
Twitter: Tony Ray Harvey @PublicityAgents
T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.