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AUTOBAHN

Kraftwerk

Progressive Electronic


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matti_sillanm
4 stars Autobahn is the classic Kraftwerk album. This is where electronic music meets prog / kraut rock. It's quite similar to some of Tangerine Dream's recordings really, with it's hypnotic and repetitive soundscapes, spacey synths and dreamy guitars. It's quite hard to describe what exactly attracts me in this kind of music, but it's beautiful and easy to listen to. It doesn't demand the full attention of the listener, it suits for background music as well, but to get as much as possible out of it, I'd recommend you to listen carefully. Too bad Kraftwerk didn't continue on this path. A solid 4-star effort.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#34598)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is no masterpiece, much less a progressive masterpiece, for the simple reason that it is too minimalistic and repetitive. Even the 20+ minute title suite could be shortened to about 4 minutes, because there is nothing happening in there, there is no development or variation. Like the reviewer said, this type of music is good as background music because it makes no demands on the listener.

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Send comments to EMinkovitch (BETA) | Report this review (#34599)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was the breakthrough album for Kraftwerk, who had been struggling for years (and through several line-up changes) in order to make a difference in the music scene: the krautrock mark was still evidently born on their sleeves in "Autobahn", while they were decided to turn their road toward the trends of electronic avant-garde experimentation. Lifelong artistic partners Hutter and Schneider had by then invented a type of electronic percussion, and along came Wofgang Flür, an academically trained percussionist who was pretty much in tune with all this experimental stuff, focused on minimalism and electronic sources. A second newcomer, Klaus Roeder, played guitar and violin as a vehicle of additional textures to complement those sonic layers and basic harmonies provided by both Hutter and Schneider on synths and organs. The namesake 22-minute epic occupied the whole A-side of the vinyl, and to this day it's still one of the legendary anthems of Kraftwerk's entire career. This track is more epic in length than in structure, since there are no symphonic-oriented variations nor there is any pyrotechnical show-off: the main idea here is to provide a musical landscape of a highway, full of mechanical frenzy, urgency and sense of adventure than are inherent to any car travel in the high road. Music is for this Kraftwerk a document that "portrays" the usual situations and sensations that take place in our contemporary urban environment on a daily basis (or, eventually, a future environment that doesn't seem too far from today). This track alone serves as a manifestation of what is soon to become the band's main recurrent motif in both the musical and the ideological aspects. There are also some touches of flute (oh, an acoustic instrument in a Kraftwerk album. there were lots of them in the band's earlier albums, indeed), which, in my opinion, deliver the image of a human individual driving the car, a human heart that beats surrounded by the artificial environment built on plastic stuff, mechanical resources and electronic devices. The last 6 minutes of 'Autobahn' keep a slower pace, as if showing a relaxing moment - perhaps the relief of having reached the intended arriving point. This track is a gem in itself, and makes more than 50 % of the album's overall artistic value. but still there's more to enjoy here. The 2 part 'Kommetenmelodie' starts as a dense, somber minimalistic play of layers, until a more festive sequence comes to the fore, as if alluding the ritualistic meanings of the passing of a comet. This stuff reminds me a lot of Schulze, but again, the krautrock scene was so mutually integrated, that it was not odd that all bands would interact and influence each other. The most obscure track in the album is 'Mitternacht', enigmatic as a being from limbo who displays its shadow over the shades of twilight: very similar in spirit to TD's "Phaedra". Finally, the segued album's closure 'Morgenspaziergang' emerges with its lyrical evocations properly conveyed by soft synth layers and bucolic flute lines, over a background of birds singing at dawn. The last four tracks are definitely related to Kraftwerk's earlier album, so "Autobahn", as a whole, can be seen as a combination of "farewell to the good old keyboard-centered krautrock days" and "welcome to a brand new world of musical electronics all of our own".

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#34600)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'll agree with the reviewer stating that this album is minimalistic and repetative, but that is NOT at all at bad label, in the case of this great album by the German electro-pioneers, called Autobahn. When I listen to the title, I really enjoy the trip, I enjoy the repetitive, relatively simple beats and great synth riffs, as well as the plainly simple perceptive lyrics (ex: Die Fahrbahn ist ein graues Band, weisse Streifen grüner Rand). I have a feeling that the previous reviewer's view was based solely on side 1 of the album. Side 2 is, on the other hand, much more varied, "Kometenmelodie 1" as well as "Mitternacht" are gloomy, dark, mystic and not-very-beat-orientated kinds of tracks which you also find in TANGERINE DREAM'S, and KLAUS SCHULZE'S catalogue. "Kometenmelodie 2" starts off where the title track left, it's somewhat positive in character, upbeat and contains the BEST (imo) synth riff. The final track "Morgenspaziergang," (the title couldn't be more fitting, it really has the feeling of a morning walk in foggy weather) consists of a fascinating little melody played on the flute accompanied by the piano and some bird sounds, very moody.

This is perhaps KRAFTWERKS best output, it has clues of what to expect on following albums, as well there are moments which remind you of their former albums, I see Autobahn as a bridge between their very experimental free-form, avant-garde past and their elctro-pop future.

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Send comments to ummagumma08 (BETA) | Report this review (#34601)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Ok, Autobahn has a following. That's good but it is no where near as good as a TD release. Forget a period comparison either. Far too commercial and more like an older version of the band Yello ( remember them?)

If anything Kraftwerk remind me of a very commercial Faust, but just to add this album did reach the masses and ' Highway' desperately struggles to achieve progressive status. I am glad they are on this site though even to just certify how contrite and poor their sound was compared to their illustrious peers of the time/s. Sorry but not even close.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#34602)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I first heard this album in '73, I kind of looked at it as a novelty and pretty much still do today. It's fun to listen to ocassionally, but I can't really take their music too seriously. To me, they sound like some electronic techs just having fun with their gizmos. Some of their later stuff I thought was getting better and more complex. But all and all, I was never a really big fan of them anyway but to each's one.

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Send comments to marktheshark (BETA) | Report this review (#34603)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
Philo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars There is an overriding feeling of bliss that transcends over the atmospheric driving anthem of the 22 minute title track on Kraftwerk's fourth album. There is no other choice but to get saturated in the rhythm and mood of the music, something which could be the equivalent to going for a long floating drive while escaping through the effects of ecstasy, while comfortably aware and accepting of the dangers... The lines float in and out and all around your head, the transient lyric which at first sounds dated then functions to hypnotise the listener with a beautiful ease....The B side draws another facet of the band, shorter pieces bringing a darker tone, which bridge both sides together even if it is still a little low key when compared with the lengthy trip of "Autobahn". "Kometenmelodie 1" is certainly an experimental mechanical piece but by the end of Autobahn a more organic tone winds down the journey with a haunting solo flute to end the drive.

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Send comments to Philo (BETA) | Report this review (#34605)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kraftwerk's fourth album was their first international success, and the first to feature what was to become their trademark sound. For all its status as a landmark in the development of electronic music and as a conceptual masterpiece, it was actually neither of those things; it was the last Kraftwerk album to feature conventional instruments (although they were very much secondary to the synthesiser and electronic percussion) and only the epic title track can be considered conceptual. It was really the work of a band in transition, and heralded the arrival of two key players in the band's development over the next few years - drummer turned electronic percussionist Wolfgan Flur and sleeve designer and occasional lyricist Emil Schult.

The title track evolved from a journey down the autobahn in a grey mercedes with a tape recorder picking up the sounds of the traffic. Kraftwerk's hommage to the enormous highways criss crossing Germany's industrial heartland was considered controversial in some quarters. The autobahn was a legacy of the Third Reich, an episode in recent history that German popular culture had so far avoided confronting. This was a good indicator of what was to come - Kraftwerk were always aware of the darker, more sinister aspects of the high tech, industrial world that they wrote about, and their work was full of ambiguity, subversion and ominous warnings. The piece itself combines found sounds with a motorik beat (something they had in common with Neu!, who had worked with Kraftwerk shortly before this album) and almost classical melodies. The 'fahn fahn fahn' refrain (it means drive drive drive) is a sly nod to the Beach Boys, and bits of guitar and flute add a human element to the almost robotic feel of much of the track. As other reviewers have noted this track is hypnotic and trance like, and it actually feels like you're driving a brand new car on a new, perfectly smooth motorway.

The second half of the album is purely instrumental, and shows a gift for melody that had only been hinted at on earlier albums. Kommetonmelodie 1 is rather sombre, but segues into the gorgeous part 2 which is light, breezy and melodic. Mitternacht is another low key piece, and the album ends with an almost folky piece played on flutes and recorders (the last time purely acoustic instruments would feature on a Kraftwerk album).

Kraftwerk's prog credentials are debatable, but they were a crucial part of the German electronic music scene of the 1970s and remain hugely influential cross many genres to this day. Few bands have combined lyrics, melody, rhythm and visual imagery so intelligently and to such great effect, and they should be considered essential listening for any open minded music fan.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#34606)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If ever there was an album that proves that complexity is not essential for quality in music then "Autobahn" is it in my opinion. This is a minimalist gem. Every time I listen to it I marvel at how clever it is. For 1974 KRAFTWERK were way ahead of their time (a decade ahead?). Loads of synthesizer but with a totally different approach to that of TANGERINE DREAM (or other synthesizer-centric contemporaries such as TRIUMVIRAT, ELP and WAKEMAN, for that matter).

The nearly 23-minute track 'Autobahn' is a work of electronic art. It's just so German, so Bauhaus, it's unbelievable. The use of synthesizers to evoke the feeling of travelling along an autobahn is perfect: the boom of the road; the Doppler 'neeeeeaahhh' of cars whizzing past in the other direction; the throbbing beat of passing pylons, bridges and lampposts; the sound of the wipers; the hiss of water on the asphalt; horns blaring; the mesmerising pulse; the chant - at one point made to sound like it's coming from the twiddling of the tuning knob on an analogue car radio - and the shear monotony of it, pounding into your brain. And yet I find myself humming or tapping my foot to much of this. The synthesizer is not trying to duplicate the sounds of the autobahn; it's evoking them musically in a catchy and hypnotic fashion. What's more hypnotic than a long car journey on an autobahn?

'Kometenmelodie 1' is dark and moody, and could be the background music to a spacewalk (not surprising, given the track name) - I find it very atmospheric. 'Kometentmelodie 2' lifts the gloom and quickly breaks into a catchy piece of electronica that the jerky dance style of the 1980s would suit. 'Mitternacht' sounds, as the name suggests, spooky. The night sounds from the synthesizer, the plinking, the hooting, the baying, and the hissing. 'Morgenspaziergang' uses synthesizer like the morning calls and noises of a whole host of birds. It really is the dawn chorus. Then the repetitive, simple flute (almost cuckoo-like), acoustic guitar and piano continue to evoke the feeling of the early morning. I can almost see the mist lying on the fields as I walk along the path. This is an excellent and relaxing ending to the album.

I realise that this stuff is not for everybody. If you want ornate Progressive Rock or 'space music' à la TANGERINE DREAM then look elsewhere. If you want an oeuvre of mesmerising analogue electronic music from a bygone era that is superficially accessible yet clever then check it out. It doesn't sound dated to me and I believe it to be something special, avant-garde at the time of release and - to me at least - very pleasing. You have to crank the sound up on a good sound system when you know you won't be disturbed. Listen. Sometimes less is more. I'm sorely tempted to award 5 stars to this album but there are other albums that I would take first to that desert island, so I'll settle for 4 stars (excellent addition to any progressive music collection). Nevertheless, it's a classic.

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Send comments to Fitzcarraldo (BETA) | Report this review (#34608)
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am sure this is a quite severe vote, and perhaps not correct, because you have to evaluate artists in the hystorical moment they produced their music (shynts & electronics experimentation, and so on). But, I think that Germany in those years had very much better interpreters of space & electronic music: Tangerine & c. are very far away from this work. Moreover, in some cases, they are still actual & hearable today. Another reason for the vote, is that listening to this album, I'd like to prove a feeling of a plenum start somewhere, somehow, but with little results... By my point of view, the more fascinating result achieved by Ralf & Florian was the kk- garage (I really would have liked to see it...!), but unfortunately not its output. In any case, I think a good experience should be a live show, which is forecasted in a few days around here, so I'll give them a new chance.

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Send comments to NIC* (BETA) | Report this review (#38164)
Posted Friday, July 01, 2005 | Review Permalink
none@noway.co
5 stars I'm not sure what kind of "I love prog , I've never dated a girl and live in my mom's basement geek" one must be to not consider Autobahn a classic.

One of the most influential prog and electronic albums ever made, Autobahn is essential music and every decent contemporary music collection should contain it. While the prog fanboi's can argue the merits and purity of it's "prog-ness", the rest of us can enjoy it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#38922)
Posted Saturday, July 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm glad to say that I'm a Autobahn "follower". Kometenmelodie 1 is a hum of bittersweet gloom, while Kometenmelodie 2 peeks through with its cheerfulness. Mitternacht can leave you paranoid. Morgenspaziergang is the perfect good feeling song. Autobahn is a whole other story. One of the most essential albums to electronic prog.

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Send comments to Trky_Lym (BETA) | Report this review (#50065)
Posted Wednesday, October 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you only purchase one KRAFTWERK lp in your lifetime,then this is THE one to get! I remember when this came out and was advertised as a "new kind of beautiful",which it is! Some may call the sound on this one repetitive,but I would call it mesmerizing. More beat driven than just about any electronica that was being produced at the time period,this lp is a forerunner to todays club mix and house music. So much so that this l, as well as TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS, have been heavily sampled for years now.I had the good fortune to catch these guys live on the AUTOBAHN tour. The first show on the U.S. tour in 1974. They seemed a bit nervous and the audience of only around 1,000 souls,wasn't really sure what to expect,since this was a new kind of music,at least for most of us.As the show opened with COMET MELODY 1 everyone knew right then that this was going to be one hell of a show,which it was. KRAFTWERK proceeded to blow the house away!I was surprised at just how LOUD 4 guys with synths could get.The whole lp was performed live including a super long version (about 20 - 25 min.) of MIDNIGHT. I was lucky to be there to see this live! As PINK FLOYD would say "WISH YOU WERE HERE"(there) too!

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Send comments to bob x (BETA) | Report this review (#50139)
Posted Wednesday, October 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I wonder how people who lsiten to progressive rock can find any interest in such a tedious, pretentious and vague band how Kraftwerk is.

I understand that in the 70's what we hear in this record could have been labeled as "experimental", but:

1] there were contemporary names (such as Tangerine Dream, Mike Oldifield, Brian Eno, Vangelis, to name some) which were far ahead: can you in any way compare the complexity and fascination of Tangerine Dream's "Phaedra" to the 22 minutes of Autobahn vacuum?

2] Kraftwerk have NEVER evolved from that minimalistic, cold, synthethic 70's sound: they are still making exactly the same bleep-based torment nowadays, after more than 30 years.

I also acknowledge that there was some sort of social message behind the anguishing atmosphere created by the impersonal vocals and the robotic sounds, but this is surely not the best effort made by an artist in this direction (Warhol went way over, for example).

I would never recommend a listen to Kraftwerk: to me it looks like it has somehow stated that Kraftwerk are cool for some reason, and people must accept it, which is just the opposite of the social message cited above.

Listening to Autobahn is like imaging the Beach Boys of year 3000: 4 robots in a car driving through an highway pervaded by a synthetic euphoria which is just the result of a robot program. This is a good idea indeed, but the result is extremely annoying: changes are minimal during the whole duration of the song, and the melodies are unbareably cheesy.

The other songs, far less known than Autobahn, are indeed even less interesting. Maybe you could resist at listening to the entire album if you set it as background music, but is it background music what really progressive music is for?

I rate this two stars, because there are fans of Kraftwerk, and for them this is surely their bestwork. Well, I'm happy for them, but this is surely not to be intended for any progressive music lover.

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Send comments to Warholizer (BETA) | Report this review (#51070)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perhaps you have to be German to understand the impact of this album. Or you should understand the Germans :). I read that Kraftwerk is "cold". Perhaps they are, but this album isn't. Pretentious? If so, then they're equally intelligent. Perhaps they once became so, like almost always fame leads to the wrong kind of superiority feeling. But we're talking about Autobahn here, not about any other album this band made. I would rather say that this album is made by naive people. Naive in the good sense of the word, open minded, eyes wide open to everything that is new. Naive also in a way that they didn't create their "work of art" with in their minds what the critics might say about it. Real art only thrives on freedom, being naive is a necessity.

Minimalistic and repetitive? Some people got famous with it. Less is more. The only thing, like the good old captain already said; if you've got ears, you've got to listen! Headphones, concentration!

Krautrock? I thought that was a Can and Amon Düül label. (Lemmingmania, the song that is, mmmmm....!)

Progressive? Can naive be progressive? Perhaps it is, but not because it meant to be. I can't imagine one the guys sitting in their Kling Klang jam session suddenly shouting; hey, why don't we make a damn progressive state of the art influence all album!

Another reviewer doubted between 4 and 5 stars. I would say 4++, but since this album contributed significantly to my musical taste (being 10 when the single Autobahn got out) it get's my bonus one.

Afghanistan?

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Send comments to jeromach (BETA) | Report this review (#56335)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Autobahn' was released in 1974 and was 'Kraftwerk's' fourth album. While the first three records moved on a common ground of avantgarde-electronic music, 'Autobahn' would not only take a differebt direction , but introduced a musical revolution that still shows it's effects today.

In the beginning of 1974 the group decided to buy a 'Mini-Moog'( a more affordable version of his big brother), but at this time still a big investement. Now the 'Moog' was either used for athmospheric music like the one of 'Tangerine Dream' or early 'Popol Vuh' or for Pop-music like 'Popcorn', the infamous 'Hot Butter' hit in 1972. (or in the case of Wendy Carlos classical adaptions) .

'Kraftwerk' were more interested in the 'pop'-potential of synthesized music and in particular the fonction of the sequenzer allowing to create rhythmic and /or melodic patterns. Remember, in this time the music industry still smiled at this 'electronic gadget' and the non-music produced by it, but 'Kraftwerk' already saw the concept of de-humanized robot music-, music played by machines, quite an avant-garde concept in the time of keyboard wizzards playing scales at increasing speed up and down the keyboard.

Side One contains the long title track 'Autobahn'. The theme of the endlessly enfolding motorway fitted quite nicely with the monoton rhythmic pattern. The German artist Emil Schult, long time friend of 'Kraftwerk', designed the cover, a naive painting of a typical German highway with a VW beetle, the average man's car on the right lane and a Mercedes, a rich man's car on the left lane and the sun glowing in the corner, an ironic comment on the after war Germany.

The long track had a quite traditional verse chorus song form stretched out to 22 minutes interwoven with car noises.The vocals followed the same irony as the cover, an simple catch phrase "Wir fahr'n, fahr'n, fahr'n auf der Autobahn" (We drive, drive, drive on the motorway), sounding strangely like 'fun, fun, fun auf der Autobahn.(and getting them the nick name of the German Beach Boys inthe States) The simple song structure made it easy to reduce the long track to a single( one of the reasons for the huge success of the record in the states, BTW the first single with German lyrics to show up in the charts reaching number 25,(the LP stayed number 5 for 22 weeks!!) , with big airplay on FM and AM radios, and showing that the Americans were much more sensible to 'Kraftwerk's pop-potential, while 'Kraftwerk' had difficulties to change their image in Germany.

Side two is a continuation of the first 3 records. 'Kometenmelodie 1 and 2' both build around a simple melody line K1, a slow version and K2 an uptempo 'dance tune'. 'Mitternacht' is a short athmospheric track à la 'Tangerine Dream ' and 'Morgenspaziergang' a tongue in cheek illustration of a 'mornig walk in the sunshine'.

'Autobahn' was going to be a blueprint for every kind of intelligent dance music to come and influenced namely Bowie, Eno , Front 242 , the whole Chicago-Hous- scene up to Techno and other forms of pop music.

A masterpiece and one of the most important records of the 70's.

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#68159)
Posted Friday, February 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
ifeelsad666@h
5 stars Albums I consider to be a progressive masterpiece are ones that are groundbreaking (ex. In The Court Of The Crimson King, King Crimson), a huge turning point for the artist (ex. Kid A, Radiohead), impact on your life (different for everyone) and/or just completely awesome (different for everyone), Autobahn are all 4 for me. Even though my first introduction to "true" progressive music was Can, and my first progressive album I bought was Soon Over Babaluma, Kraftwerk and Autobahn were the ones that changed it all for me ("it" as in my musical taste). Albums with only 4 or 5 songs amazed me, so this album caught my attention right away. After downloading it and listening to it, I was kind of stunned, I never thought I could like an album with such little amount of lyrics, or music for that fact. Autobahn will always be one of my top 5 favorite progressive albums.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#69892)
Posted Saturday, February 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Someone gave me a copy of this album many years ago when I was a kid. They had purchased it thinking it was more of a Beach Boys 'Little Deuce Coupe' or something like that, but they were disappointed that it turned out to be this cold, minimalist Kraut kind of thing instead. I had the same impression and, except for a few listens while somewhat stoned where I thought the sounds of cars 'moving' through my headphones was kind of interesting, this album largely gathered dust on my shelf for many years. Some things just don't transfer well across cultures. I was, after all, living in mid-western America in the early 70's, the Cold War was still going full force, and there was a broad spectrum of more friendly psychedelic, symphonic prog, and even modern blues-influenced music to listen to. The repetitive synthetic tones of a couple of robotic technophiles just didn't do anything for me spiritually or emotionally, and for me at the time, music just needed to evoke some emotion - and borderline catatonia didn't count. Sorry if that offends any Kraftwerk fans, it's just my opinion.

Several years later when bands like Gary Numan, Devo, and even Flock of Seagulls came along with their pure electronica sound, I tried to get into this album once again, but no luck. It still bored me to tears. No doubt these and many other synthetic bands, along with a whole generation of basement musicians with their Commodores and Midi players, were influenced by Kraftwerk. So too were some of the electronic dance bands of the later 70's and early 80's, I suppose -Throbbing Gristle, Art of Noise, Thomas Dolby, and the like, so Kraftwerk gets credit as one of the pioneers of the genre, but this album isn't even the best work they ever did. The Kraftwerk 1 and 2 albums were less well-known in the States, and I never even heard them until the mid-80's when there was a bit of a renewed interest in the band after their Computer World release (which is still a bit more well-known here than Autobahn), but these albums were certainly more interesting to listen to, if for no other reason than they offered a bit more variety with the added percussion at least.

Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, and even more cabaret-oriented groups like Human League and New Order really perfected the techno sound in the 80's by interjecting at least a sense of bored melodies and heroin-like stoicism in their music. While most of that was depressing, at least it had some emotional spark, which was more than I was ever able to get out of Autobahn.

The 20-plus minute cover tune was undoubtedly an ambitious and creative concept in the early 70's when computer-driven sequencing machines and programmable keyboards weren't available that would basically allow any lives-with-his-Mom techno nerd to become a recording 'musician'. Kraftwerk at least had the distinction of making their music largely one note at a time, and with actual orchestrated arrangements, so they get a nod for that. There's even a hint of violin and a small amount of guitar, particularly on the minor tracks on the reverse of the album (Kometenmelodie #1 and #2, and the rather odd Mitternacht - I really have no idea what that one is about). I believe there's even a flute that works its way into the background from time to time (unless that's synthetic too), but overall the only real variety that's detectable is the short dead space of the needle pops between songs.

The final track, Morgenspaziergang, is supposed to represent some kind of bizarro- world stroll through a meadow or something, kind of a Robot Frank meets Central Park, I guess. Again, this was probably a novel concept thirty-plus years ago, but unfortunately it doesn't wear well with time.

Today of course these sounds can be generated by anyone with a cheap PC and some sound effects shareware program, or frankly even ripped off of a Sims game CD. True, these won't have the aura of early authenticity of the Autobahn album, but the sound can be had elsewhere. Unfortunately for bands like Kraftwerk, they may have been ahead of their time with their circuit board-inspired sound thirty years ago, but the significance of their accomplishment has been lost over time with the tidal wave of technological advancements in electronic music since then.

This is certainly a critical album for Kraftwerk and techno fans, but it wasn't even considered a pivotal release when it came out in 1974. Some bands that were ahead of their time years ago have now become elder statesmen for genres that are considered more mainstream today. I'm afraid that in Kraftwerk's case, the techno sound that has evolved over the past thirty years simply serves to underscore the fact that their sound was perhaps early, but certainly not timeless. Two stars seems like the right mark for this one.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#74798)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Autobahn, great album title dont you think?

This is one of the most popular Kraftwerk`s works, in fact, my mother knew this album before me, (thats weird) i dont understand why yet, but anyway. Kraftwerk is maybe one of the pioneers of Progressive Electronic music, that point gives them automatically a bit of respect, and in fact this is nother band from Germany, it is a country which has made great electronic bands suchs as Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel.

Well ,here because it is electronic music ( and maybe some Krautrock sound), we can listen looots of synthesizers, great electronic sound, always changing, a nice landscape in every song, and of course this music is always progressing, some nices changes to different moods, and musically is a nice album, maybe when we hear a strong synth, behind it, there are piano notes, which make it more special, but talking about voice, i dont like the voices here, maybe because im not a huge fan of German language, and of course i dont understand anything, but for me the voice is not good, the first song "Autobahn" is a 23 minute song, a like it because it has some nice changes, but i think it could be sometimes repetitive and boring, as usual as progressive electronic is, great soundscapes , a very creative album, i enjoy it , but only sometimes, it is not an album that i play continuous, only when i had the whim, i take it to my stereo. "Kometenmelodie" parts 1 and 2 are great songs, shorter than Autobahn, but still good. "Mitternacht" is the shortest of them all, and i think its is unusual to see a 4 minute song for a Prog Electronic band, the last song is "Morgernspaziergang", the whole album is good, sometimes strange and a bit boring, with robotical and space sounds, if youre fan of this kind of music, im sure you will enjoy this album.

I want to clarify something, i think, well, im sure that this album is Essential , Essential = 5 stars, i think that because all prog fan and collector must have this album in their collection, but im convinced that this is NOT a masterpiece of progressive music masterpiece of progressive music = 5 stars. So, because of that, im giving it 4 stars.

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#75408)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fun, Fun, Fun at the Autobahn : )

I am a early KRAFTWERK fanatic, I believe they were at top of their Progressive peak in the early and mid-seventies.

Kraftwerk were no longer a duo when this album was produced way back in May 1974 in Kling Klang Studios, Verlag.

It was released on the Phillips and Vertigo labels, despite they are both owned by Philips.

Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter wanted sessionists to help them record and produce Autobahn: they recruited Emil Shult (who creted the front cover and helped with the writing), Klaus Rohder (who played the violin and guitar), and Wolfgang Flur (who was a electronic drummer on the album).

This is not the first KRAFTWERK album to feature Synthetic Electronic Drums, it was first heard on "Tanzmusik" on the Ralf & Florian LP the year before (Kling Klang/Philips 1973), Wolfgang Flur also claims he invented the Electronic Drums and had assistance with the electronic components from Florian Schneider. (Schneider and Hutter deny this claim!!)

OK down to business now, in general I think this album holds the roots for techno and electroic music, and Synth Pop music which would inspire OMD, David Bowie, Afrika Bambataa and The Human League and so on.

"Autobahn" - 23 minutes of electronic/space rock heaven, this is like a sort of film giving a story of a motorway journey. Despite this being a electronic track, it is not 100% electronic, it has slightly acoustic intruments too, the flute and a guitar. This would also be the first track to feature vocals and lyrics, sung by Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider on the Vocoder sort of instrument "RoboVox" An interesting song which taks you through a journey, of the highway and traffic sounds done on the Moog Synths : ) This is the first time Wolfgang Flur would play the Electronic Drums on the recording, it tends to get more proggy to the end with all the Synth effects, very techno and electronic sounding but not in the same way as on the latter albums e.g. TEE and TMM.

"Comet Melody 1" - A very slow, build up track, with low and dark Moog notes, giving it that cold feeling, and daunting atmosphere, again a fairly interesting track, but has a slow build up and not much oomph, more of an experimental Moog piece.

"Comet Melody 2" - Now this has a more warmer and melodic touch to it, plus a more faster tempo beat, this is a more blatant electronic poppy prog track, with electronic drums played this time, the second version is a better and easier listen, oh and has a DO,RE, MI, FA, SO, LA, TI, DO structure to it, you can hear this better by pressing the skip fast button on a CD player : ).

"Mitternacht" - We have now passed the electro/techno stage now, we go into a more acoustic and monotonous setting, and is a dark, eerie, haunting track, with a eerie organ intro (possibly the Moog), then kick in a second humming of the same tune, then a lightly eerie violin compostion then comes in, the track actually recreates a midnight walk : ( (spare the thought), and the Violin does a wolf howling sound, and the Synths creating a herd of bats, and has an effect of a water drip in a possible cave setting done on a Moog???, it's very percussion sounding, the water drip sound. Not really a melodic or music track, just an experimtal track, based on sounds of Midnight, very industrial and semi-acoustic sounding.

"Morgenspaziergang" - a beautiful and a fully acoustic track all done with wonderful flute playing by Florian Schneider, piano by Ralf Hutter and a smooth acoustic guitar play by Klaus Rohder, don't really know if Wolfgang Flur participates on this track, unlike all other KRAFTWERK tracks with a sad, cold, industrial and experimental feel, this track has a more harmonic and a warmer presense towards it, OK not a full acoustic track, well it has a Moog at a starts simulating Birds singing and a Waterfall sound, which is not a easy sound to listen to: trust me : ), aain a very interesting listen and a nice tune.

This would be the first and last album to feature Klaus Roheder, his shoes would be filled by trained percussionist Karl Bartos at the dawn of the Autobahn tour, it was also decided that Wolfgang Flur would be a full time member when this album was recorded, as he was really speaking at the time a sessionist, which immediately became a full time percussionist with them. This album is a second start for KRAFTWERK, as these days they dismiss their first three albums and now count this as their first album in the back catalouge, I really enjoy this album and is a must for all Krautrock and Electronica fans.

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Send comments to PROGMAN (BETA) | Report this review (#88877)
Posted Sunday, September 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
thellama73
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Let me begin by saying that Autobahn is a stone cold classic. It brought Kraftwerk into the public eye and transformed electronica forever. That being said, it's really not that great of an album.

The title track is charming and fun, but in all honesty it goes on for too long and suffers from a shortage of ideas. Maybe it's just the copy I have, but the mix seems quite low and all the subtleties are hard to hear.

Kometenmelodie 1 & 2 are two versions of the same song, one fast and one slow. It's a good idea, but the melody in question isn't really strong enough to warrant it, although the second half taken on its own is quite nice.

For me, the highlight of the album lies in the last two tracks. Mitternacht is a very well done, atmospheric instrumental that conjures up images of of dark solitude perfectly. Morganspaziergang contrasts well, with a cheerful flute melody that is reminiscent of the band's earlier albums.

As I said, this album is a classic, but ultimately Kraftwerk would make much more successful music in their later albums.

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Send comments to thellama73 (BETA) | Report this review (#125928)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tapfret
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I will do my best to be objective, which is difficult as: 1. Electronic is not my cup of tea. 2. This album was experienced very early in my life and not overplayed, thus gets big familiarity credit.

Autobahn is one of the earliest canned beat albums I know of. It is void of musical complexity in any sense of the word. Yet it is enjoyable. The 20+ minute title track is, as the name might imply, the musical equivalent of a Sunday drive. The sounds are presented with almost a childlike innocence as Kraftwerk attempt to portamento their Moog to make it sound like a car driving by at a high rate of speed. Much of the rest of the album recalls the early days of the New Age music movement with highly transient sounds. The closer "Morgenspaziergang" is a warm melody for an ethreal cap to the album.

I give 3 stars to Autobahn for nostalgia sake, even though I am not predisposed to any enjoyment of electronic (especially modern). I should expect that many fans of the genre would rate it even stronger for said nostalgia.

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Send comments to Tapfret (BETA) | Report this review (#143281)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm rating this one right down the middle because I am impartial to it. If you simply can't get enough of the more electronic versions of Krautrock, then you will probably love this album, despite the fact that it really isn't phenomenal in terms of experimental rock. I think, at the time, this was meant as a more commerical mainstream approach to an audience than the more truly experimental and awe-inspiring Krautrock bands. If I had to compare this music to anything else in the scene, it would be TANGERINE DREAM, but I would much prefer TANGERINE DREAM to KRAFTWERK anyday. That being said, if you are entirely new to the genre, and to any of these bands, this may be a good place to start. This album does not assault all of your sense from the get go, in the way a CAN album does, and its more accessible in the way a PHADREUS-era TD album is. So, I'd say, that with all the electronics, this is a good place to start, and good place to move on from once you've heard it. But to be obsessed with this album, why?

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Send comments to kabright (BETA) | Report this review (#170870)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I'll put historical (and any other) context aside, just concentrating on the music, and conclude - this is awful.

Album's epic, ''Autobahn'', smashes you right in the face with it's minimalistic, repetitive, cold, artificial, cheap and repulsive sound. 22 minutes of two obsolete melodies and some basic electronic sounds and effects. I'm I missing something here? I don't think so. Unfortunately, things don't get any better in shorter pieces. ''Kometenmelodie 1''? Incredible boredom trying to sound spacey - no comets here I'm afraid. ''Kometenmelodie 2'' shows signs of life whit it's passable melody and groove, but continues to bore. ''Mitternacht'' is getting more ''experimental'' trying to depict (mid)night feeling. Wouldn't work. I guess ''Morgenspaziergang'' should have depicted fresh morning feeling with it's pseudo-gentle sound. Another failure, I think I'll take that walk some other time.

If you want minimal electronic that bad, go and listen to some modern trance music (I'm not joking); it's much more vivid than this dud. How and why this album and this band were so influental is beyond me.

Fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahn? Excuse me, I think I'm gonna be sick.

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Send comments to Mlaen (BETA) | Report this review (#180710)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As I have said in an earlier ''Kraftwerk'' review, I first discovered ''Radio Activity'' and then dug backwards into their catalogue; but not further than ''Autobahn'' in those remote days (1975).

The music that is featured here is much more accessible than on their previous recordings (but this was not difficult). Their style is very much set in place, and the band is now ready for world recognition.

IMO, it is also their best album so far. Electronic music at its best, this album develops some fine melodies and it sounds much more organized that their first two albums which were quite an experimental affair. The repetitive side of their music is brought to its extreme during the side long (on the vinyl) title track, but the synth work does bring some variety in here (yes!). I obviously think that it is more fun than great but I have liked this track pretty much back then.

I wouldn't speak of gem, marvel or jewel but this album is quite a decent one. Even if you aren't a deep lover of this sort of minimalist work (which is my case in general), one has to admit that ''Kraftwerk'' put some good stuff together in this album.

To some extent, I would say that this work is quite important in terms of influence for such an album as ''Low'' from Bowie (which will see the light three years later - I'm talking about ''Low'' of course). This feeling is fully palpable during both of ''Kometenmelodie''. This is an obvious source of inspiration of the great B-side from ''Low''. Part two is probably the finest music available on ''Autobahn''. A real good melody with some more ''warmth'' than usual.

Some dark and scary mood for ''Mitternacht'' (midnight) is a fine break. Only some repetitive keys note which provide a gloomy atmosphere. Not joyful music of course, but I quite appreciate this short number (which is not the case of the closing ''Morgenspazierga'').

In all, ''Autobahn'' is a good album. I would probably have rated with seven out of ten if it was possible (but this option doesn't seem to be available on PA, which is a PITA). Since I can't really raise this effort to four stars, three is the final score.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#194543)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Isa
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars |C| A few great musical ideas spread too thin over the course of the album.

That pretty much sums up one of electronic prog group Kraftwerk's more well know albums, Autobahn. It apparently has pretty good historical points for the development of electronic music in Europe, or at least enough so that my AOR pop rock listening parents had heard of and bought the vinyl in the late seventies, which is why I have it today. I remember looking through my parents' old albums a few months ago and saw this album made by the band Kraftwerk, and thought, "hey wait a minute, isn't that one of the electronic prog bands on the Archives?" I looked at the track listing and was like "dude, it has an epic! Sweet, I can't wait to here this!" On first listen, it sounded really cool, I'd never heard electronic prog before so this was a pretty important album for me to hear. Overall, I am quite pleased with it, and it's definitely one of the better albums from my parents' meager record collection. It has some great melodies and use of keyboard sound effects, but overall the texture of most of the album was too thin and repetitive to really raise it to a four in my book.

Side A, the epic album title track, Autobahn (translating to Highway) is the case where just about all of the musical ideas were wonderful, but they were so overused, extended, and thinly scored for such a lengthy amount of time that it took away from the overall quality of the epic. It was very much like having great toast with great butter, but you had so little butter you had to spread it too thin, resulting in every bite being pretty good but always giving you the feeling there should have been more too it than that. That's pretty close to the feeling I got listening to the album as a whole, especially the epic. Too thin and too repetitious, after sixteen minutes it's like, "okay, I've heard this plenty of times now" and would just get a bit boring. However, the production, composition, and keyboard use, although thinly scored, is really very good.

Side B also included quite thin and overly extended tracks, but overall introduced newer material more constantly, which kept it fairly interesting. Comet Melody 2 is probably my favorite track on the album, here we get more dense textures. Morning Walk was a very interesting track, it included mostly keyboard parts creating forest sound effects; first introduced is the bird chirping sounds, then added are the sound of a stream (sort of reminding me of the intro to Close to the Edge) and the slight roaring sound of the waterfall. All combined they make a pleasing woodsy atmosphere effect, and then added to that is the main melody of the track, played by the keyboard sounding like a recorder, creating a very delightful track.

Overall there are no really weak sounding moments throughout the album, but not too many strong moments either, although there are occasional glimpses of brilliance. This album probably could have been a masterpiece, or very close to it, if there were more material of this quality condensed into a smaller space, this would be a killer album. But thus it falls more in the above average category. I recommend this album to listeners of this kind of music and fans of Kraftwerk. Otherwise, there's really nothing essential about this album.

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Send comments to Isa (BETA) | Report this review (#211773)
Posted Sunday, April 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Autobahn" is the 4th full-length studio album by German experimental electronic pop/ rock act Kraftwerk. The album was released through Philips/Vertigo in November 1974. Kraftwerk started their career as a krautrock group but slowly started to incorporate more and more electronic elements into their sound with each album they released. "Autobahn" is the first album in their more dominant "electronic" phase. The music is still experimental in nature and if you´re familiar with their first three albums it´s obvious that Kraftwerk still have elements of the more ambient/experimental krautrock style featured on "Autobahn".

In my world the 22:30 minute long title track, which filled the whole of Side 1 of the original LP, is by far the most interesting track on the album. It´s also the track which mostly reminds me of the later electronic pop/rock that Kraftwerk are predominantly known for (even though the music on the album features some organic instruments like flute, violin and guitar). I really appreciate the memorable and simple themes as well as the repetitive electronic rythm. The "Autobahn" track is the first Kraftwerk track to feature vocals and the only track on this album to feature them. "Autobahn" was a commercially successful track in the 3:27 minutes long single version and single handedly put the band on the international music map. It features both "regular" vocals and vocoder processed vocals. Side 2 of the Original LP features four tracks which even after repeated listens don´t appeal much to me. They are too ambient, repetitive and not memorable enough.

So even though the obvoiusly great musicianship and the high quality sound production are assets that pull my rating up, the varying quality and entertainment level of the material on "Autobahn", drag it down a bit. A 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#240364)
Posted Sunday, September 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Autobahn is a difficult album to judge. I remember both me and big brother were rather disappointed with it and frankly, I didn't check out any kraut again until I had become a fan of the bands that were inspired by it. Our main issue with Autobahn was the lifelessness of it. Of course the 23 minute nihilism of Autobahn was fun the first time but it wears thin rather quickly.

Another issue I first had was the lack of melody. I was raised on symphonic prog so this sparse minimalism was a bit too much (or too less?) to take back then. I can appreciate it a lot more now but compared to the following albums, this still remains not much more then a transitory album between their early kraut (Morgenspazierung, Mitternacht) and the techno direction they would take later one.

The first 5 minutes of Autobahn and the Kometenmelodie2 are the only tracks that reveal where Kraftwerk was heading for. For me the album is a historical document but not much more then that.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#251003)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This was the breakthrough album for Kraftwerk and Autobahn was quite progressive electronic track for its time. The 22+ minute album-titled composition marks this albums biggest highlight but time has aged the music here much too fast. The sound is just not what it used to be and, in my opinion, the performance tends to drag on for too long. The rest of the material featured here is nothing too spectacular and I would rather recommend listening to some of the lesser tracks from the later Kraftwerk albums instead.

1974 was a significant year for electronic music and, together with Phaedra, Autobahn marked a renaissance in the development of a new genre. Personality I've never been a huge fan of either of these two early electronic releases because both of these bands would make even better music later on in their individual careers. Still both of these releases were undeniably important and therefore should not be missed out on if you're even remotely a fan of the genre and its current state of development.

**** star songs: Highway (Autobahn) (22:30) Comet Melody 2 (Kometenmelodie 2) (5:44) Midnight (Mitternacht) (4:40)

*** star songs: Comet Melody 1 (Kometenmelodie 1) (6:20) Morning Walk (Morgenspaziergang) (4:00)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#259291)
Posted Monday, January 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Autobahn could be called Kraftwerk's "breakthrough" album, when they moved from an avant-garde krautrock sound to a more mechanical, synth-oriented sound- Autobahn is no Man-Machine, but it's a lot more electronic than Kling Klang. However, what makes Autobahn great in my opinion is that it fuses minimalistic, repetitive sounds that would be at home in the domain of rhythmic krautrock with electronics. The title track is a perfect example. There's really not much to be said about it besides the fact that it's simply a joy to listen to, and perfectly captures the feeling of driving. Kometenmelodie 1 is a subdued, restrained ambient track, with little more than atmosphere noise and slow synth notes. The second Kometenmelodie, however, is absolutely delightful, life-affirming, and hopeful- the song was about German reconstruction after WWII, and it takes that feeling perfectly- this is honestly one of the happiest songs ever made, up there with XTC's Ten Feet Tall. Mitternacht is a bit of a flashback to their early days, featuring mostly random noises, though synths do poke their head out occasionally. Morgenspaziergang is another happy song, that sounds very morning-like, as the title suggests. The flute is used very nicely with other sounds to create a delicious atmosphere. So, Autobahn is a truly great album that sees the mighty German cyborg people known only as Kraftwerk hit their stride and start making truly epic proto-electronic music. It's on the border between four-star and five-star land, but I think that their later albums are a bit better, and there are a few holes here. Still, four stars is a great honor.

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Send comments to Neurotarkus (BETA) | Report this review (#272633)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars "Fun fun fun with the Autobahn!"

Kratftwerk launched in to the stratosphere with "Autobahn" after a mediocre start of some very forgettable music that nobody understood except the underground crowd and fans of Krautrock. The title track features a very lengthy excursion onto the freeway where cars leap into unbelievable speeds to get from point A to B. The acceleration of motors and cars that fly by is mimicked with incredible precision by the music particularly in the middle instrumental section that is accompanied by a low drone and Mini Moog. The honking sounds and Doppler effect of cars swooshing by are unforgettable. The heartbeat rhythms and driving timelessness are indicators of one of the most innovative German groups.

They didn't just break down barriers they demolished them with a ferocity that is unequalled in music of the era. The title track was a side long masterpiece and worth the purchase of the album alone. But it took on a whole new vibe when radio stations picked it up, butchered it to a mere 3 minutes or so and played it in the 70s to an unsuspecting audience.

Of course Kraftwerk became household names in Germany and indeed enjoyed worldwide success with 'Autobahn'. I believe listeners would have received a shock though as the rest of the album simply defies description and is nowhere as accessible as the tuneful melodies of the title track.

The weird high strangeness of side 2's tracks are peculiar and way off centre , and I remember as a child being absolutely petrified of 'Mitternacht' in particular with is scary effects. The other side 2 tracks are repetitious and dull. However it is what it is and 'Autobahn' was the beginning of greatness for these most influential progenitors of techno pop and progressive electronic.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#276783)
Posted Wednesday, April 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Koln to Bonn in under 23 minutes

"Autobahn" (the German word for Freeway or Motorway) was the 1974 album which delivered a first taste of critical and major commercial success for Krafkwerk. The move into the big league was entirely down to the editing of the 22+ minute title track to become a 3 minute single. That single found some chart success in the US and even greater success in the UK and Europe.

By the time of "Autobahn", Kraftwerk had already gone through line up changes, but the core duo of Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter would remain together into the 21st century. Due credit should also be paid to engineer Konrad Plank who worked with the band on their early albums, and was responsible for transforming the base tracks for this album into what we actually hear. This would however be Plank's last collaboration with the band.

The album consists of the monster title track which occupies the whole of side one of the original LP, plus a quartet of 4-6 minute tracks on side 2. The track "Autobahn" is an audio sketch of a high speed journey from Cologne in Germany to Bonn, the former West German capital. Given that these roads had no speed limits, presumably 22 minutes and 30 seconds is a feasible time for that journey! The piece is the first by Kraftwerk to feature vocals, although these are brief and largely monotone, and the first to feature their newly acquired minimoog. These innovations afforded the band the opportunity to vary the sound more, although the self imposed mechanical restraints which are now familiar to us, are very much enforced throughout. Repetition, synthesised sounds and occasional sound effects are the overriding motifs which dominate the track, the results seeming highly original to the audience of the day. Indeed, those who approached the album on the basis of the 3 minute single would probably have been somewhat taken aback by the apparent inaccessibility of the extended version.

The tracks on the second side of the LP are loosely based around a theme of the passing of a night. There are no vocals at all on these four tracks, the music consisting to a greater extend of ambient soundscapes painted on synthesiser and minimoog. The opening pair of tracks on this side were inspired by the comet Kohoutek passing through the night sky (It also inspired a track Argent on their "Nexus" album which has a slightly Kraftwerk feel to it). While the inspiration for the two sections may have been common to both, musically there is little to link them together, part 2 being much more lively and upbeat with pleasing polyphonic synth sounds.

Mitternacht(Midnight) is the least musical of the tracks on the album, the focus being on ambient noises rather than anything tuneful. The closing track Morgenspaziergang (Morning Walk ) begins in similar fashion, but real flute (not synthesised) introduces a peaceful repeating melody to close the album.

In today's context, the rudimentary, almost clumsy nature of the title track in particular may bemuse a younger audience. Those of us who were there at the time though will remember this album with some affection. At the time it was without doubt one of the most innovative and original albums commercially available. Strangely, to this day the album has managed to avoid release at mid-price, an accolade reserved only for a few chosen artists and albums.

Incidentally, it was Germany's ability to move their troops and equipment rapidly via the Autobahns during the second world war which inspired President Eisenhower to commission the interstate system for the USA. The UK approach has been more haphazard, resulting in journey times today more akin to a slow ballad.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#292591)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars "Die fahrbahn ist ein graues band, weisse streifen, grüner rand"

Autobahn was not Kraftwerk's debut, but it surely was their breakthrough album. I cannot compare it with the hard-to-find earlier albums as I have never heard any of them, but compared with their subsequent output it is certainly one of the best ones. The 22 plus minute title track of this album is a true classic of electronic music, and dare I say of music in general? It is also the only progressive (as opposed to experimental) composition by Kraftwerk as I know them. (Progressive yes, but it is not Prog by any means if by the latter term is understood progressive Rock, as this is not Rock). This conceptual piece about traveling on the German motorways does indeed progress and different themes replace each other to return at a later stage. It is melodic, well-structured and, again, progressive. Electronic music is usually not my cup of tea, but Autobahn is indeed a charming piece and undoubtedly a milestone in the Progressive Electronic genre. The lyrics are a bit silly and if you don't understand German (though only very basic skills are required here!), you are not missing much on this occasion!

Autobahn was recorded before Kraftwerk became a (proto-) Synth Pop band and this is not quite as sterile, cold and robotic as some later efforts. It is also much less minimalistic as we hear not only electronic sounds here, but also some acoustic ones like piano and flute.

The second half of the album is clearly not up to par with the epic first, but even here we find some good material. Kometenmelodie 1 and Mitternacht are rather dull electronic experiments, but nothing offensive at all. Kometenmelodie 2 and Morgenspaziergang are a bit more interesting and the former features some appealing synthesiser solos.

I'm very far from an expert on Progressive Electronic, but I would say that this is a pretty good place to start investigating the genre. It is certainly a good place to start your investigation of Kraftwerk.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#293282)
Posted Tuesday, August 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The last time I heard this album I really enjoyed it, so I feel at liberty to take pot shots at the opener, knowing that overall I'll like it when it finishes. 'Autobahn' is a likeable synthetic album that always seems to add up to nothing when you reach the end.

This is their first proper electronic album. The title track - 'Autobahn' lasts a painfully long 22 minutes and is as hammy as hell, but always good in an entertaining, but shallow way. It's' full of tinny percussion and paper thin vocals and displays a lack of vision as it meanders from one theme to the next. It's also childlish and unemotional and definitely the poorest tune on the album. Honestly, it's like the musical equivalent of watching a 'Noddy and Big Ears' outing on a Sunday driving picnic.

Thankfully things pick up on side two. Now here's where the influential side of Kraftwerk kicks in. There's many similarities with Bowie's 'Low' from '76. A far more serious affair with lots of innovative keyboards being executed in an austere manner. Sadly, there's a the rather shoddy flute outro that is clearly a remnant of their prog origins.

What's worse is that we still have two more years to go before the awfully grey and uninteresting 'Radioaktivatet' is released which is even more ordinary than this, before a massive upswing in Kraftwerk inspiration which will lead to three great albums in a row .

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#422475)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Autobahn is highly regarded as one of the best, if not the best, Kraftwerk album. Definitely essential listening in the Kraftwerk catalog, this album stands out as being fun, energetic, and one of their most progressive overall.

Before this album, Kraftwerk were firmly placed in the krautrock style, but ultimately decided to progress their style into creating electronic pictures that still retained the krautrock punk energy. Autobahn shows Kraftwerk at their creative best. The title tracks goes on for over 22 minutes and displays quite a good bit of progressive electronic and post-krautrock feel. It moves at a steady mid-pace as electronic sounds fade in and out of the periphery. The robotic vocals progressively get more and less robotic through the duration, and the mood ranges from optimistic to very dark and mechanical. To me, this track shows both sides of what automobiles bring to the world: high enjoyment and extreme danger. Tempo and time changes also occur, which is usually of interest to the progressive listener.

Following the title track are a few more electronic tracks of the more experimental variety. "Kometenmelodie 1" is a fading and droning monster with an arrhythmic pulse and whistle-like breath, though it isn't entirely a pessimistic picture. Glistening cascades of robotic keys also fill the frame. "Kometenmelodie 2" is a poppy pre-dance-electo with a steady beat. "Mitternacht" is the sound of a severely industrialized community and it's mechanical inhabitants. The sounds of the factories let off steam and warning alarms blare, in addition to squeeking robot shoes and the dripping of condensation. "Morgenspaziergang" is a whimsical and delightful experiment that brings up images of green grass and flittering butterflies, and the sounds of faun's wooden flute definitely standout here.

Highly recommended work of robotic imagery.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#437892)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Kraftwerk's breakthrough album sees them adopt a cold, stark, predominantly synthesised sound which somehow manages to be catchy and pop-friendly would eventually exert a huge influence over the new wave (particularly artists like Gary Numan). A few acoustic sounds slip in here and there, but the strong emphasis on synthesisers is already becoming apparent, and would eventually be relied on to an almost cartoonish extent by the band - but here, the transitional nature of the album means it's of more than usual interest to fans of their earlier Krautrock style. Definitely worth a listen and unquestionably a historical album, but the title track does go on for a bit and some of the synths sounds have not dated well.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#532013)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars It ain't hard to get some sympathy for Autobahn; a nice set-up of minimalistic synth-pop with some naive sang ( Fahren, fahren, fahren auf die Autobahn!). The overall idea of hearing cars passing by and starting the record with some engines starting is great.

The sound of the record however is in great contrast of their image: man with ties on stage. Their image is like professional business men, while their music sounds simplistic and joyfull. Autobahn is an optimistic record with only a short darker sounding song on the second side. My visualisation is like full-grown men playing with cars!

The titletrack deserves almost four stars for this easy-listening, yet enjoying composition. The experimental part of this track is far from avant-garde and contains just some trial and error effects with synthesizers which works out quiet good, but takes a bit too long. The second side however is not good enough to credit this record as an excellent addition, because of the tiresome ending track. The record as a whole is without complexity and sometimes a bit booring, but with nice easefull moods which can be enjoyed while studying or waking up.

A well-known record in synthesizer music, but not a recommendation for prog-addicts: after all this is far more pop oriented then prog. About 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to the philosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#701651)
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Kraftwerk broke ground twice: once with 'Ruckzuck' and once with this album. If you want to hear some fresh music that was far ahead of its time, "Autobahn" is one of the albums to get. This spirit of innovation is evident on the lengthy title track where all they sing is "fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn, fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn". There are various melodic themes that were used to present different changes in mood, which is one of the things that attract me to this kind of music. Another thing I like about this track is that it's groovy. It's the grooves that provide this pulse to the track. I also have to mention that these guys added some really cool experimental synth imitations of the sounds of cars and trains passing by. "Hypnotic" is not the word. "Driving" is a good word. What is my favorite part? 14:29-14:42. Go check it out, especially where the guy sounds a bit like his voice is coming out of a speaker, and that texture is backed up with a melodic staccato synth. That is freaking cool.

The rest of the album also has some interesting ideas. 'Kometenmelodie 2' sounds like a truly unique blend of classical music and melodic pop sensibilities. It's not as driving, but it's moodier that than the title track. Luckily, it also features a few changes in the texture, so it is not a drag. "What about 'Mitternacht'?" I'm glad you've asked that question. 'Mitternacht' is simply dark and somewhat menacing. You have some corny organ work for setting the mood, which is nice. But then the track takes a slightly gradual turn into the unknown with various extraordinary experimental sounds, which are very impressive. Check out other tracks and see what you personally think of them. Don't mind my ratings unless you are curious.

All in all, this is a good album. Take my word for that.

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

1. 'Autobahn' - **** ; 2. 'Kometenmelodie 1' - ** ; 3. 'Kometenmelodie 2' - *** ; 4. 'Mitternacht' - *** ; 5. 'Morgenspaziergang' - ** ;

Stamp: "I like it."

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Send comments to Dayvenkirq (BETA) | Report this review (#722942)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I get in the bad habit of working backwards some times. I hear what a band puts out later in their career and liking it a good deal. Then I get the elements that lead up to it and it feels like a deconstruction. That can work out better if the precursors happened to highlight a particular element which you enjoyed. I find more often however that you typically end up somewhat less polished precursors and that is the case here on Kraftwerk's Autobahn. I still like it, but it doesn't stick out for me like Man Machine or even Trans-Europe Express (TEE). The main appeal of the album is the title track. Even though it clocks in well over 20 minutes and can be a bit monotonous, it is truly is delightful. Perfect for a long drive on a bright sunny day.

The rest of the album, doesn't quite hold up to the excellence of the title track sadly. It certainly is interesting, and others are less likely to disregard it out of hand. Most of it is darker and slower, but it does shine again, if not to quite the same degree, on Kometenmelodie 2 and the quaint closer Morgenspaziergang.

On the whole, I find it to be a lot like TEE, the parts I like are a joy, but the darker aspects break the mood. I think they might have been better off making a dark album and a light album, but that's not how inspiration works. It's good, not great. I love parts or if and I'm bored with others. Most of you probably know that Kraftwork is something of an acquired taste fans will likely get a kick out of it. If you're new to the band this might be the place to start, but I do recommend moving on to the more richly adorned follow ups, especially Man Machine. Good, but not essential.

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Send comments to R-A-N-M-A (BETA) | Report this review (#723090)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me it is a masterpiece. Back in 74' is was a groundbreaking album. To the newer generation it might not seem that way since now days we have samplers, sequencers, DAW's, Virtual Synthezisers and Digital Recorders the size of a pack of gum. AUTOBAHN'S influence on post electronic productions is still relevant today. I for one as a musician became fascinated with the synthesizer and the way these German masters used them. Painfully and meticulously layering tracks, sounds and rhythms one by one without the aid of digital multi tracking and bouncing we have today. Nobody had done what these guys did. Today it might seem like an unimportant and simple production but back then it was truly groundbreaking and a beacon of light for other groups and musicians to follow. I totally understand the newer generation not giving it is credit due. Today all the sounds on this album are sampled and it is extremely easy to put together a production similar to this but to truly appreciate it..you had to be in the 70's and hear it for the first time..you had to be there.

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Send comments to Rambo (BETA) | Report this review (#942027)
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kraftwerk has to be admired for one thing and that would be that they found a place in popular music for electronic music which has helped spur several periods after the release of Autobahn of when electronic music has been well accepted among the masses. Although straightforward electronic music is not always my preference or my strong point in progressive rock, I do enjoy listening to it once in a while.

Regardless of my own preferences and that I usually seem to be attracted to the more experimental side of electronic music than the popular side, I have always been a lover of both "Autobahn" and "Trans Europe Express" having been a passenger on both back in the early 80s and I have loved the way that both of these tracks have effectively captured those experiences. I can close my eyes and it's just like I am back in Europe and the atmosphere of the way of life is manifest in the music and in my mind. Since "Autobahn" is on this album, it is a personal favorite of mine. I love how it captures the essence of travelling through Europe in a way that only those that have experienced it can relate. And the nicest thing is, this is a 22 minute track which seems to be broken up into a "theme and variations" type piece which never seems to wear out it's welcome. Some people may find it sounds dated, but if it is, that doesn't bother me. It reflects the time that I spent in Europe, so it works for me.

The second side (or half) of the album consists of 4 tracks. The first two are linked as part 1 and 2 of Komentenmelodie (Comet Melody). You can hear why they are linked as you listen to them even though they are distinct; part 1 being a study in minimalism and part 2 sounding like an attempt at making another popular track with a boogie feel to the supporting instrumentals. Neither one of these are ground breaking or stand out tracks really. Track 4 is named Mitternacht (Midnight) I find to be a more experimental track and I find it a lot more interesting. It is aptly titled as I feel that it portrays midnight quite adequately. Nice sound, calming but not as minimalistic as track 2. The last track is a very nice melody which is very accessible yet nice to listen to in a very simple way.

Overall, I think Kraftwerk made a very nice album here with a lot of variety and not the feeling of sameness that a lot of the electronic artists seem to have problems with. Historically, I think this is an important album but technically, it is nothing new or special and that is always not a bad thing. If you are interested in electronic music, it is an excellent addition. If you want to enter into the world of electronic music, this is a great place to start.

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Send comments to TCat (BETA) | Report this review (#1010997)
Posted Sunday, August 04, 2013 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Contrary to what the band itself would have you believe, "Autobahn" wasn't Kraftwerk's debut album. Ralf and Florian have officially denied the existence of anything recorded prior to their 1974 breakaway hit, but despite its reputation as a pioneering slice of embryonic electronica the record was actually the last of their formative efforts, sharing more common ground with the band's Krautrock roots than with the robotic archetypes of later albums.

In retrospect the 22-minute title song was an obvious preview of coming attractions. But at the time the band was still more Man than Machine, with flutes and guitars very much in evidence, notably on Side Two of the original LP, divided into four shorter instrumental tracks. "Kometenmelodie" presented a more symphonic refinement of their earlier techno-pop single (dropping any reference to the cosmic dud of Comet Kohoutek); "Mitternacht" was a darker, ambient refugee from the band's experimental adolescence; and the gentle flute of "Morgenspaziergang", complete with tacky electronic birdsong, quietly reprised the "Autobahn" melody in a nice bit of understated (acoustic) closure.

Nothing too revolutionary, which may be why the latter half of the LP is often dismissed as filler. But in career terms the album has to be considered a landmark recording, breaking new ground (for both the band and for musical posterity) by embracing the brave new world of synthesizers in a pop music format. Before "Autobahn", most electronic innovators (think TANGERINE DREAM) were stuck in a deep exploratory rut. But Ralf and Florian made the canny decision to abandon the influence of Stockhausen in favor of The Beach Boys, and the result was a hit that made them unlikely global superstars.

The next few Kraftwerk albums would define the newly-minted KlingKlang ideal for all time. But it's the lingering echoes of their closet avant-rock adolescence that make this album special: the still warm fossil of an all-too human impulse the band would soon and forever turn their backs on.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#1053636)
Posted Friday, October 04, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Autobahn, innovative album precursor of electro pop. It came of course from Germany, as the country had opened rock's gates to electronic influences.The titles are built around the concept of a trip on the highway. Autobahn is the long part of the trip when the road is full; then it's Kometenmelodie, the nightfall (composed of a contemplative first part and of a more festive and joyful second one); followed by the stranger Mitternacht; next it's Morgenspaziergang describing the sunrise with birdsongs imitated by synths which is added a little flute melody reminiscent of Grieg's Morning Mood. Autobahn may be appreciated for its sweet naivety but it sounds pretty easy to me, even boring sometimes. In fact I would say it has a lack of creativity, of inventiveness. However it's true that this music feels comfortable, so you could ask me why it doesn't please me. On a certain point of view you're right, but for musical expectations Autobahn is rather poor. If this album was part of a property catalog, I'd give it more stars because it fills well and decorates nicely an atmosphere. Good to relax, maybe, not to listen to.

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Send comments to MonsterMagnet (BETA) | Report this review (#1120921)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

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