“Ein, zwei, drei, vier… “ thus begins the saga of Ralf und Florian, whose revolutionary Kling-Klang sound shook the world’s speakers to the ground and whose robotic emanations are still pulsing around the globe from Detroit to Goa. This is as inside a view as we will probably ever get into the construction of the Kraftwerk audio-conceptual mystique. Witness avant-garde music students Ralf and Florian dropping acid before a Stockhausen concert; their first group, Organization, and its improvisational beginnings at German art-scene happenings; Kraftwerk’s relationship to German experimental music explorers Can and Neu!; their hidden conceptual “guru” Emil Schult and his role in crafting their anti-individualist Eurocentric image; the influence of the groundbreaking English art duo Gilbert and George and other conceptual artists; film director Fassbinder’s on-set Kraftwerk obsession; the pair’s love for the minimalist rock of the Stooges and the Ramones; a top-secret summit meeting between Ralf and the reclusive Michael Jackson in New York; and many other elusive glimpses behind the Man-Machine’s hermetically sealed façade.
The story of Kraftwerk also becomes, by necessity, the history of the early years of electronic pop music, or as they describe their sound, “industrial folk music.” Some milestones: their first use of a treated rhythm machine and a vocoder on “Pineapple Symphony”; their first mini-Moog, which cost them the price of a new VW; their first use of a synthesizer—which, surprisingly was not until their fourth album, the global sensation Autobahn. As Ralf Hütter describes their appeal: “The dynamism of the machines, the ‘soul’ of the machines, has always been a part of our music. Trance always belongs to repetition, and everybody is looking for trance in life, etc., in sex, in the emotional, in pleasure, in anything, in parties… So, the machines produce an absolutely perfect trance.”
Paperback: 192 pages