Kraftwerk is cool. Dudes in suits who produce electronical music in the 70s are simply wickedly awesome. Kraftwerk is really weird, reclusive, German, and say cool things like “The telephone is an antiquity — you never know who is calling, there is no image, it is an outmoded product which constantly disrupts work.” (Hütter, 1991)
I plodded about a bit for this post and found a highly amusing article in the Guardian where a reporter unsuccessfully searches for Kraftwerk in Düsseldorf. Apparently they really, REALLY don’t like publicity. I quote from the article:
They rarely give interviews, and when they do, they come with strings attached: one magazine which secured an audience with Hütter was informed that he would only discuss his collection of bicycles and that they were not allowed to even mention that he was a member of Kraftwerk. Their legendary Düsseldorf studio, KlingKlang, has no telephone, no fax, no reception and returns all post unopened. They have not attended a photo shoot since 1978: their record label has had to make do with blurry shots from their highly infrequent live appearances and pictures of the band’s painstakingly constructed robot doubles. No band has shunned publicity with such dedication.
Is that cool or not? This is one of the most influential bands of the 20th century, pretty much heralding electronical music as a whole, and they’re obscure as hell! I’m surprised they even do live performances, despite the robot doubles thing.
Their big breakthrough was Autobahn, released in 1974. I think it’s a hilarious track, which is why it’s the song of the day. It’s very calm, very slow, very synthy, very sweet, but at one point (around 6:33 in my nine minute version) they seem to ‘break loose’ and you get a weirdass set of loony vocals. The first time I heard it I laughed out loud and was like “what the flying fuck just happened?”. So that’s what it’s like when the tightass suitwearing anti-hippies of the 70s go wild. Awesome.
Besides from being rather culty, Kraftwerk is also important musical history. If you want to know where most of the electronical genres of the 80s and 90s came from, check out Autobahn and all their other music released until 1981.