Kraftwerk (formed 1970) are a German electronic music band from Düsseldorf and are widely considered pioneers of electronic music.
Formation: Kraftwerk formed when Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter met at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in the sixties, playing music that the British dubbed 'krautrock'. They first played together in a band called Organisation which released one album before splitting. Between 1970 and 1974 Kraftwerk had an ever-changing line-up including guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger briefly. Hütter even left for six months in 1971 to pursue architecture.
Career: Kraftwerk played experimental rock on their first three albums; the self-titled 'Kraftwerk' in 1970, 'Kraftwerk 2' in 1972 and 'Ralf und Florian' in 1973. In 1973, they were joined by Wolfgang Flür who performed with them on the TV show 'Aspekte'. Their sound soon developed into more synth sounds and drum machines and the third album marked the first use of their trademark vocoder. Their work with Konrad Plank on their first four albums became massively significant in their early years and his studio near Cologne quickly became one of the most sought-after studios in the late 1970s. In 1974 they released 'Autobahn' which became their last album with Plank and saw them make technological advancements such as the use of the Minimoog and the EMS Synthi AKS. It remains to be their biggest commercial success. In 1975, they made their first multi-date world tour promoting 'Autobahn' with a line-up of Hütter, Schneider, Flür and Karl Bartos - a line-up that stuck until the late 80s. Their next album was 'Radio-Activity' which was less successful in the UK and America but did reasonably well in Europe and in 1976 they embarked on another tour after which they took a break from live shows. They released album Trans-Europe Express in 1977 at Kling Klang Studio where Hütter and Schneider met David Bowie. A collaboration was mentioned but never emerged. They followed it up with album 'The Man-Machine' in 1978 which they had sound engineer Leanard Jackson from Detroit to work on the final mix. Three years later they released the 'Computer World' on EMI records. Lead single 'Computer Love' was released with B-side 'The Model' but they soon switched sides with the growing interest of 'The Model'. It was a number one seller in the UK and they followed it with another world tour in 1981 on which they took their studio on the road. In 1982 they released album 'Techno Pop' which included the single 'Tour De France'. The single developed around the band's (in particular Hutter's) obsession for cycling. Hutter wanted the theme to carry through a whole album but the rest of the band did not agree. Hutter was in a coma for several days following a cycling accident during the track's recording. After their 1986 album 'Electric Café', Flur left the band to be replaced by Fritz Hilpert. Following some time away from touring, they started performing around Europe again in 1990 with some more intimated gigs. Karl Bartos soon left the band. Their next major tour was in 1991 for album 'The Mix' with Fernando Abrantes becoming a short-lived replacment for Bartos. In 1998, they hit the US and Japan for the first time in more than 15 years where they played new songs that are still as yet unreleased. The band felt they needed another break from touring after returning from overseas. In 1999, former member Flür released an autobiography entitled 'Ich war ein Roboter' (Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot). 2003 saw them reduce manual playing and change to laptops as they embarked on the Minimum-Maximum world tour though Hutter still sings live vocals and plays keyboard. Later in the same year, they released box set '12345678: The Catalogue' featuring their eight re-mastered albums. It was re-released in 2009. In 2005 they released their first live album 'Minimum-Maximum' and soon did another tour with dates in Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece. In 2008, they co-headlined at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for the second time since 2004. Some later dates were cancelled, however, after band member Fritz Hilpert fell ill with a heart condition. Later, their video technician, Stefan Pfaffe, became an official member while long time member Florian Schneider left for his other projects. Hütter has suggested that another box set of their first three albums could be a near-future release. They have also recently released an iOS app called Kraftwerk Kling Klang Machine. The band have always been famous for their rare interview appearances and photoshoots and generally private nature. They even kept the location of their Kling Klang Studio secret and when Coldplay singer Chris Martin requested to use the melody from their song 'Computer Love' for one of his own songs, they sent him a letter simply reading 'yes'.
From Duran Duran to Weezer, it's an iconic day for music.
As it turns out, May 10th has been a pretty lucky day for the world of music. There's been nothing of note this year, but in the last 50 years, there have been a string of iconic albums all landing on today's date. Thus, we've put together a special Album of the Week feature this week, including seven of our favourite albums released on this day...
New York Dolls - Too Much Too Soon (1974)
The band's second release (coming a year after their iconic self-titled debut album), Too Much Too Soon is very much a cult record often labelled as one of the earliest punk rock albums. New York Dolls enlisted producer Shadow Morton on the album, and while much of it was re-recordings of demos and cover songs such as The Cadets' Stranded in the Jungle, it is still considered an important record in the proto-punk movement.
After five years of spectacular performance art on their 3-D World Tour, Kraftwerk unveil '3-D The Catalogue'.
Electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk are bringing their trailblazing 3-D concert to the whole world with their brand new all-encompassing DVD release 'Kraftwerk 3-D: The Catalogue'. Plus, they'll be embarking on a 17-date UK tour this summer with more of their 3-D live action.
Kraftwerk brings their 3-D live show to your television
Shot between 2012 and 2016 during their 3-D World Tour, the collection features performances at venues such as New York's MoMA, London's Tate Modern Turbin Hall, Tokyo's Akasaka Blitz, the Sydney Opera House, Oslo's Norske Opera, the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Paris' Fondation Louis Vuitton and Berlin's Neue National Galerie.
Esther Sedlaczek - Maybelline 100th Year Birthday Bash after party at Kraftwerk at Kraftwerk - Berlin, Germany - Friday 15th May 2015
Kim Gloss - Maybelline 100th Year Birthday Bash at Kraftwerk - Berlin, Germany - Friday 15th May 2015
Moogfest begins in just a few short hours; here's what you have to look forward to.
Named after America's main pioneer in the world of electronic music, Robert Moog, Moogfest is finally back after a brief sabbatical which saw them miss 2013 - to much disappointment from electronic lovers everywhere.
The much-adored Moog synthesizer is an incredible piece of equipment invented by a man who changed music for the better, so the fact that there's a weekend event named sharing the name is a thrilling prospect for musicians and fans alike. It began in 2004 and was eventually brought to Asheville, North Carolina in 2008 where it has stayed ever since. Not only have festival goers got a first-class music line-up to look forward to, Moogfest 2014 will also be hosting presentations during the day from both veteran music boffins to newcomers still experimenting with developing their sound. For all you synth-lovers out there, you will also be treated to various workshops which will no doubt give you an immersive experience into the heart of electronic music.
Although technically a music festival the Henham Park, Southwold, gathering mixed arts, comedy and more for an experience like no other
Within it's scenic woodland surroundings, Henham Park in Southwold, Suffolk, was once again the place to be this past weekend (19 - 21 July) as the worlds of music, arts, comedy, cabaret and more all mixed seamlessly together for a weekend to remember.
Bloc Party rounded off the first day
Although it was Bloc Party who headlined the main-stage on the first night (Friday 19 July), revellers didn't have to wait around to get their first taste of the wonders of festival-life. With the Maccabees, Yo La Tengo and The Leisure Society coming before them, one of the most warmly received acts came from one of the smaller stages, the BBC Radio 6 stage. Texas were the headliners of the night and despite their more radio-friendly sound ging against the alternative grain most of the festival takes, their renditions of 'I Don’t Want a Lover,' 'Summer Son' and a host of new tracks had the audience eating out of singer Sharleen Spiteri's hands. Meanwhile Japandroids and DIIV were among the bigger names on the smaller stages, whilst Lee Nelson and Sean Lock were among those bringing the laughs to the Comedy Stage.
The three day spectacular mixed music, arts, comedy and more in what continues to be one of the UK's premiere festivals - and we've got plenty of pictures from all three days
Henham Park in Southwold, Suffolk once again held the coming together of music, comedy, arts and more in it's scenic woodland surroundings to a rapturous reception from the many revellers who travelled to see the likes of Foals, Kraftwerk, Texas and Bobby Womack rub shoulders with the likes of Eddie Izzard, Dylan Moran and Daniel Kitson. And that's just scratching the surface of what was on show.
Kraftwerk have been touring their 3-D show across the globe
On the first day (Friday 19 July) Bloc Party lit up the main-stage, having seen the likes of the Maccabees, Yo La Tengo and The Leisure Society come before them. Elsewhere, on the smaller BBC Radio 6 stage, Texas were the headliners of the night, with Willy Mason, Villagers, Beth Orton and more coming before them, whilst Japandroids and DIIV were among the bigger names on the smaller stages. Meanwhile, bringing the laughs to the comedy stage was Lee Nelson and Sean Lock, to name but two.
Moody electro-pioneers Kratwerk are proving their brand of electronic music is deserving of the title, visionary. Their 8-day Tate Modern stint is 5 days old today, and critics have been lavishing praise over the German innovators.
The Guardian - who's target audience either witnessed Kraftwerk's emergence and saw their influence flourish or wish they did - lead the complimentary reviews. "It's quite difficult to overstate exactly how far ahead of their time Kraftwerk were in the 70s," writes Kitty Empire. "They remain almost ridiculously exciting. Equally, though, examined deeply, as these nights do, Kraftwerk's music is hugely comforting: full of churchy organs and an almost childlike sense of wonder." The Telegraph has equally nice things to say. "Any pre-concert doubts were emphatically buried from the opening punched-out beat of "Numbers" and the unforgettable minimalist words, "Eins, zwei, drei, vier, funf, sechs, sieben, acht!" goes their review, which starts by questioning whether it was in fact Kraftwerk or a tribute band at the Tate before asserting that it didn't matter.
Day 5 has seen the band reach their most celebrated work. Computer Love. This wasn't a fantastic debut or a lucky swing; this was the band's eighth studio album, after they perfected the art of synth through the seventies and said 'there you go, world, this is what you do'.
Continue reading: Kraftwerk At The Tate Modern Fry The Critic's Hard Drives
Kraftwerk's 8 day stint at the Tate Modern is a perfect tribute to the band's legacy, but with only one original member left, are the people performing actually just a tribute band?
The Tate is the perfect venue for them, not least because of the incredible acoustics of the Turbine Hall, but also because Kraftwerk's legacy stands somewhere between popular culture and art. Their experimental music has not stopped its influential power. Indeed, entire genres would probably not exist if it weren't for Kraftwerk's wholly original approach to music. The Guardian described them as "one of the most iconic bands of all time" while the Art Desk describes their performance at the gallery as "effortless perfection". However, they also question whether that 'effortless perfection' is enough to bring people back for more. Which also raises another question about the validity of the performances at the Tate as Kraftwerk. They are, of course, Kraftwerk songs, but is it Kraftwerk performing them, or merely a tribute to their legacy.
The Telegraph likens watching Kraftwerk, with the only original member performing being Ralf Hutter, "like watching the Beatles perform without Lennon or McCartney, the Rolling Stones without Jagger or Richards." Of course, the difference is that it isn't a tribute band. The Beatles without Lennon is still the Beatles, and a lot more exciting than seeing four men mid-midlife crisis in a working men's pub in the Midlands. The venues Kraftwerk appears in (who else has performed at the Tate Modern?!) and the kind of energy and crowd they elicit is not merely unique, but impressive.
A Week in Videos...The popularity of Unknown Mortal Orchestra has been on a slow burning rise for some months now. Taken from their forthcoming second album, helpfully entitled II, ‘So Good At Being In Trouble’ sees the band in a particularly catchy mode, a lilting melody lifting the trademark stoner vibe. The video features the actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse (you’ll know him as McLovin’ from the movie Superbad) causing a scene and trying to snatch a hippy from a scene that could well be set in a 1960s era Venice Beach.
In this video, Nina Simone talks about freedom and love, before the film cuts to a grainy performance of her performing ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.’ One of music’s legendary performers, Simone’s rendition of the song showcases her warm and passionate vocal. On the subject of freedom, Simone insists that she couldn’t possibly describe how it feels to be free, just as much as its impossible to describe the feeling of being in love. To hear her perform the track, though, you get just a glimpse of what freedom might feel like.
Kraftwerk got onto the second night of their eight night residency at the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London, with the praises of the first night’s show still ringing in their ears. How could they possibly top the previous night’s stunning rendition of their seminal 1974 album Autobahn?
The answer is, by turning their aesthetic towards the future, to match the futuristic sounds that their music already has – even after all these years. The NME reported that the 800 sell-out crowd were given 3D glasses in the Turbine hall of the art space, sitting on cushions until 9pm when a German introduction to the band saw them rise up as one. The group’s second album is Radio-Activity, and they performed it in full, with 3D graphics on the screen behind them flashing up visuals. Fans had paid £60 for the spectacle though they viewed it as money well spent, with the band playing some other classics alongside the Radio-Activity material. One spectator told the NME "Hearing Radio-activity was sublime; every track sounded perfect and the visuals just brought it all to life. Then it just felt like an extra set, hearing 'Autobahn' and 'The Model'. They’re one of the best live bands around."
Kraftwerk have six more nights of their residency left, as they bring each of their studio albums to the Tate Modern in full.