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KRAFTWERK

Kraftwerk

Progressive Electronic


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Kraftwerk Kraftwerk album cover
3.35 | 122 ratings | 20 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Retreat (Ruckzuck) (7:47)
2. Stratovarius (12:10)
3. Megaherz (9:30)
4. From the High Skies (Von Himmel Hoch) (10:12)

Total Time: 39:39

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Ralf Hütter / organ, strings, drums, keyboards, vocals, woodwind
- Florian Schneider / flute, percussion, strings, violin, drums, keyboards, vocals, woodwind
- Klaus Dinger / drums
- Andreas Hohmann / drums

Releases information

LP Philips 6305 058
CD Germanofon 941001 (1994)
CD Crown Records 0423-2 (1994)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to spacelover for the last updates
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Kraftwerk 2Kraftwerk 2
Import
Phantom Sound & Vision 1999
Audio CD$21.99
$19.79 (used)
Ralf and Florian By Kraftwerk (1999-12-13)Ralf and Florian By Kraftwerk (1999-12-13)
Unknown Label
Audio CD$21.79
Maximum KraftwerkMaximum Kraftwerk
Import
Phantom Sound & Vision 2004
Audio CD$5.63
$12.56 (used)
KRAFTWERK / THE MAN MACHINEKRAFTWERK / THE MAN MACHINE
Capitol Records
Vinyl$25.95 (used)
Kraftwerk: The Catalogue Box SetKraftwerk: The Catalogue Box Set
Box set · Remastered
Parlophone (Wea) 2009
Audio CD$415.00
$236.21 (used)
Kraftwerk 2Kraftwerk 2
Import
2007
Audio CD$26.10
$30.63 (used)
The Model: The Best of KraftwerkThe Model: The Best of Kraftwerk
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Audio CD$98.50
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Kraftwerk: Trans Europe Express (Booklet, 180g) Vinyl LPKraftwerk: Trans Europe Express (Booklet, 180g) Vinyl LP
Deluxe Edition
Kling Klang
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LP grosser sendesaal des hessischen rundfunks hr1, frankfurt west germany jan 25 1974
KRAFTWERK
~ USD $22.69
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KRAFTWERK Kraftwerk ratings distribution


3.35
(122 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
28%
Good, but non-essential (28%)
28%
Collectors/fans only (17%)
17%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

KRAFTWERK Kraftwerk reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Kraftwerk is known for being at the heart of Krautrock especially the electronic part of it and they are everybit as important as Guru Guru , Can , Tangerine Dream, Early Popol Vuh, Neu!/La Dusseldorf. However if you are likely to remember them as electonic pop , this first album will indeed surprise as there are no Synths at all and the music here is full of "normal" instruments. Ruckzuck even starts out with a flute! As you might now guess , we are nor really in Autobahn territory , but this music is still severly hard to grasp fully!

Klaus Dinger of Neu! also contributes drums on this album. This album is the direct result of Ralf and Florian having constructed their KlingKlang soundstudios at home and they bare heavily experimenting.

I should really give this album its fourth star as it is essential for anyone loving experimental Krautrock (I am one of those ) but somehow this album never got IMHO to a cult status with me! Least I can say is that I am a minority!

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars You can take something that's totally monotous, dress it up with conceptual packaging, call it minimalist and (apparently) even call it progressive. But if it doesn't challenge you, doesn't grow on you and gives you no enjoyment whatsoever, you eventually need to walk away.

So it was with Kraftwerk, the brainchild of Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider. I knew they were famed for the synth pop themes of Tour De France and The Model, but I took it at face value when I was assured that Kraftwerk had once been a progressive rock band, even if it was with a strong "electronic" element. After all, many great 70s bands had travelled that route. That this record also featured future Neu! star Klaus Dinger made it doubly enticing. Or so I thought.

I tucked into this debut album and soon found that almost everything about Kraftwerk repels me. The repetitive thump of most of Ruchzuck, the 12 minute sound-effect laden fade-in, fade-out discordant Stratovarius, which thankfully adopts a hypnotic structure halfway through (yes Kraut-rock is the word I'm looking for!). The space station freak outs that kick off the frequently inaudible Megaherz. Von Himmel Hoch was Stratovarius all over again, except the percussion is punchier. Overall, though, this was one of the most ardous albums I've ever had to endure.

Listen to me go on. Perhaps I should just try and find something nice to say about this album. Hmmm. Oh yeah, the playful flutes at the very beginning of Ruchzuck were decent and I also thought that the keyboard swells on the seventh minute of Megaherz weren't entirely repugnant. I even thought I heard a real organ for a moment during the latter piece.

But really, the best thing I can say about Kraftwerk's debut album is that it made me appreciate my previous favourite target Can a little more. I hasten to remind you that I have a strange relationship with Kraut-rock, cos I really love Amon Düül II, quite like Faust and intensely dislike some others! Apparently these guys went on to make a 22 minute piece about the tedium of driving on German highways the next year (the title track of 1974's Autobahn). But this is torture enough for me.

I can see how someone might call this sort of thing "art." But to my ears, this is not even music. 8% on the MPV scale

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The frequent comparisons to Can are about the closest you're going to get to any similar sounding music. Kraftwerk define their own space with every album - and yet, with the debut, there is something deeply rooted in 1970s rock, despite the apparent synth overload.

This is not full-blown electronica, as in actual fact, there are no synths - but the mix of organ and electronically effected acoustic/electric instruments makes for a very pleasing and retrospective texture.

"Ruckzuck" takes a minimalistic approach, and grows small textural ideas - this is not the type of Progressive Rock that blares "I'm Brilliant - Stand In AWE", but the type that draws you into a very intimate zone - a personal, unfolding voyage into inner and outer space simultaneously.

The trick is to try to follow all of the individual lines at once - it's nearly impossible. Following individual lines defeats the objectives of the music, and would fool the casual listener into believing that this is somehow simple or even nonsensical. It is actually a band that is tightly integrated with a common vision of the direction of the music - bordering slightly on the insane.

This is clearly evidenced in "Stratovarius", which begins with a sequence of ever- straining dischords, reminiscent of an orchestra tuning up. Eastern flavours creep in, and then someone walks off... once that oddity has passed, pizzicato madness starts to set in, but settles into a groove quite quickly, underpinned by detuned bass and a really cool drum beat that twists and turns, assisting the music in its build-up in a section that clearly has its roots in Krautrock/psychedelia.

The pizzicato returns around 7:30, marking out what appears to be a 3rd section to the piece. Indeed, this feels more like a new piece in the same style rather than the continuation of the existing piece - but that doesn't matter too much, as the style is given some continuity with violin flavours in the texture - I'm assuming that this is what "Stratovarius" is referring to; the use of violin and doctored violin sounds as textural leitmotif that goes beyond the original sound of the instrument.

A 4th section begins unmistakably with the use of a mournful bowed violin sound - whether it's acoustic or electronic is somewhat obfuscated by the clever overlays, but it's a great build-up that superficially may seem repetitive, but Kraftwerk have a great handle on minimalism and understand where to tweak the sounds to provide maximum dramatic growth.

"Megaherz" follows, and again, the dry Kraftwerk humour shows through, beginning with deep, throbbing bass sounds (in the herz arena, but lots in terms of ambient quantity...). This is gradually layered with dissonant washes of what appear to be synth in a wonderfully atmospheric way, that makes me feel as if I'm staring down some kind of electronic hole in the space-time continuum... This drops away to a gentle and pastoral flavoured section, beautifully floaty, with the occasional dischord to counterbalance any saccharine in the sweetness of the surrounding textures. Shimmering metallic sounds indicate the gentle growth of the piece, providing a kind of alarm to new possibilities. Time seems to stand still.

This piece is a perfect example of how ambient music can be written, with attention paid to the character of the music, and instrumental decoration kept to a minimum - virtuosity is provided in the treatment of the instrumental textures, some of which are processed through various effects, others of which are effects produced by different methods of playing the instruments.

"Vom Himmel Hoch" rounds off the album nicely - another near-perfect composition for what it is. There are moments in here that remind me very strongly of the more "floaty" parts of "Dark Side of the Moon" - almost as if Pink Floyd lifted the sections from around 3:00...

The Krautrock "freakout" that follows shows a fabulously creative set of imaginations at work, with sounds that are disturbing and edgy, and reminiscent of the tape collages of Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the easy yet disturbed groove that brings the piece to a close is strongly predictive of the Ozric Tentacles.

It's quite apparent that the engineering and effects processing is just as important to the success of this album as a coherent and very progressive work of art as the playing of the band itself, which is another thing that this album has in common with "DSOTM".

As a summary, an absolutely fabulous work of art - I would say stunning for a debut, but that wouldn't be strictly true, as Hutter and Schnieder released an album called "Tone Float" under the name of Organisation. This is a decidedly more exploratory affair, with none of the hallmarks of a band having mastered its sound that "Kraftwerk" shows. A real Power Station of ideas and highly recommended.

I'd like to say that it's a masterpiece, because it is.

I think the thing that stops me from saying that it's a masterpiece of Prog Rock is because the Rock aspects are often incidental - although on this album they are natually stronger than on any other that Kraftwerk ever produced thanks to the presence of instruments that are largely acoustic, 2 real drummers and a drum-machine builder (Schnieder).

However, the thrust is towards electronic music and bears many similarities with the ways in which the electronic composers of the 1940s built their music... which is an extraodinarily progressive way of thinking - although understandable, given that both Florian and Schnieder were classical music students at Dusseldof university and would have been given maximum exposure to this radical form of music - hence the natural comparisons with Can.

None of which is a convincing argument as to why this album should not be considered a masterpiece of Prog Rock.

So I'll just have to fall back to that old chestnut, opinion.

"Kraftwerk" is an absolute masterpiece - a fantastic album of brilliantly concieved, flawlessly executed and perfectly produced progressive music which, if it's not there already, is seriously missing from your prog collection. But it's not a masterpiece of Prog rock because I say so.

And I'm sure your ears will agree. :o)

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I never thought Kraftwerk were krautrock in their beginning! The best warning I can give you is that, if you don't like the krautrock band Can, then you probably won't like this record either! The music here has almost no melody, and the emotions possibly brought are only found in the mellow part of "MegaHertz"!

"Ruckzuk" starts pretty well with flutes a la Jethro Tull, curiously reminding a bit the Under Wraps album. Unfortunately, it is too experimental, hypnotic and repetitive. The second part is VERY krautrock influenced, as reveals the psychedelic echoed drums & percussions- oriented music. The "Stratovarius" intro is one of the worst prog moment ever recorded: a series of insipid, insane & irritating keyboards laments; the rhythmic part is reminiscent of the band Neu! The couples of passages where rhythmic acceleration occurs are interesting. The best parts of this album are the gently floating organ & peaceful flutes/woodwind instrument bits on "MegaHertz": it reminds me a bit Jade Warrior and Jethro Tull; it is however partly destroyed by the bizarre frying noise. The artificial war planes & bombing emulations on "Von Himmel Hoch" are borderline childish and silly. The loaded passage on "Von Himmel Hoch" between 8:00 and 9:30 is another strong point of this record. The keyboards conversation is funny but Tomita can do it so much better!

I must admit the guys are structured and disciplined. For 1970, this was very original. Globally, I slightly prefer it to the Can's Tago Mago album, because it is better structured and there are more memorable passages: that's why I can add half of a star to the rating.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I like it, I like the minimalistic melodies, repetitive delays, phasing effects... I understand this is not appealing to some people. But this is certainly music and therefore art. And a good one at that. For the brave and daring listeners with electronic avan-garde tendencies. If you listen carefully, you will find a LOT of good melodies, and some - surprise surprise -obvious rock elements. And classical. Is this noise? Hell no! It's not only about phase shifting and dissonant flutes. It's about the structures and stories.

I won't say much about Kraftwerk's debut. It's more minimalistic than my review! But at the same time its 40 minutes of MUSIC contain more daring ideas than some band's entire catalogues.

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars KRAFTWERK are mostly known for their pioneering, rather stark and industrial approach to programmed electronica, complete with catchy melodies and rhythms, which have been sampled countless times by countless bands since, but their origins are firmly tied in with the highly experimental music which came out of Germany during the late 60's/early 70's, affectionately known as 'Krautrock'. The music on this album very much suits its, rather primitive, flourescent orange 'Workman's Hat' cover-art. Inside the gate-fold shows a photograph of a strange, huge electronic generator, possibly forecasting the obsession the members would have with electricity, and what they could create with it, musically. This, their debut self-titled release from 1970, features 4 lengthy pieces, 2 on each side of the record. 'Kraftwerk' is really the collective name of Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider-Esleben, with help from various musicians, here Andreas Hohmann and Klaus Dinger man the drum-kits, reputedly Hohmann on the 1st side, Dinger on the 2nd. After working with Ralf and Florian, Dinger would join forces with another Kraftwerk helper Michael Rother and form another Kraut band called NEU! The instrumentation utilised on this recording is simply - Drums, Organ, Tubon (?), Flutes, Violin and Electric Percussion (I'm sure I can hear a Bass-Guitar at times, though it's not credited). 'Ruckzuck' (7.47) opens with Flutes, and their trademark repetitive rhythms kick in full- force. Florian's flute playing is stuttered (stoccatto?) and breathy, and his melodies are a treat. It gets relentless toward the middle, where the tune speeds up and stops dead in its tracks, crushing Organ chords pounding their way through the speakers, like a Giant taking footsteps. The piece then accelerates into a jam, grinding organ all the way backed with phased drums and odd electronic treatments. The original melody returns and, after a false ending, ends abruptly. Hats off to Conny Plank, Producer/engineer extraordinaire, for bringing out a most wonderful result from the band. 'Stratovarius' (12.10) opens with scorching Organ-work, constantly being detuned, wavering in pitch and sounding quite demented, hallucinogenic and quite effective. After a while, percussion noises interrupt and a pizzicato violin melody triggers off a slow, lagging jam, again with overdriven, distorted Organs and strange noises. Another manic, ascending build-up crashes into chaos, and gives way to more jamming, with manipulated Flute squelches and quivering Organ. 'Megaherz' (9.30) is the most beautiful and tranquil piece on the record. It's a highly atmospheric piece with lots of 'space'. The meandering Flauting, the floating Organ lines (recalling PINK FLOYD, surprisingly enough) makes for a most mind-blowing listening experience. 'Vom Himmel Hoch' (10.12) summarises the whole album - a relentless piece featuring similar traits as displayed in previous tracks with some aggressive sounds, and superb Drumming. I urge all adventurous Prog-Heads to plunge head-first into this Kraftwerk - no showroom dummies for now. MASTERPIECE status.
Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars. Well once again I need to thank Tom Ozric for convincing me to get into the early KRAFTWERK records. I've said before that the Electronic genre is not one of my favourites, but this debut from them as well as Ralf and Florian's earlier album "Tone Flote" with the band ORGANISATION are both essential Krautrock gems. I even like this one better than the ORGANISATION recording. I just remember a friend of mine in high school playing the "Autobaun" record a lot and I did not like it at all, which also kept me from checking out any of KRAFTWERK's other records until now.

"Ruckzuck" has this catchy groove to it not unlike CAN. Flute is prominant throughout. The tempo picks up 2 1/2 minutes in. There is a brief calm after 3 minutes before the groove is back but a little rawer this time. The sound fades in and out as the tempo shifts the rest of the way. "Statovarius" opens with spacey and eerie sounds before it gets a little strange and experimental 3 1/2 minutes in. A flury of drums a minute later followed by scraping violin sounds and a melody 5 minutes in. This is dark and oh so good. The tempo picks up until you think it's going to explode. This happens again with those screeching violin sounds that build to a climax. It's spacey 10 minutes in before once again the drums and violin sounds speed up before this time ending abruptly to end the song.

"Megaherz" is experimental as it changes from one climate to the next before settling in with a light and spacey soundscape. The flute and organ 7 minutes in are cool. "Von Himmel Hoch" features electronic sounds that expand and receed. It sounds like 3 explosions between the 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 minute marks. Pulsing sounds and drums 4 minutes in are speeding up. Nice. The drums are great 5 minutes in. Weird noises before 7 minutes. We start to get a beat a minute later as the drummer puts on a show once again. It ends with an explosion.

Hey they're still playing drums, flute, organ, keys and violin at this point, it may be an experimental way mind you, but this is Krautrock.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Reflecting another facet of the band ...

Kraftwerk play Coachella April 26. The chances of them performing Ruckzuck there are slimmer than Dick Cheney winning the Nobel Peace Prize (found somewhere at an unknown blog)

This is the first KRAFTWERK album despite the fact that Ralf Hütter und Florian Schneider had produced 'Tone Float' before under the moniker ORGANISATION with the special intention to capture the british market. Now it's confusing that KRAFTWERK's official website discography starts with 'Autobahn' first which manifests the turn away to another style and exclusively electronically produced music. For some reasons the former albums actually are ignored by the band. But there's really no need to conceal them I would say - they should be proud on the contrary. Digital reissues were known only from illegal sellers like Germanofon for example but whilst writing this review I detected a reissue of the british Sounds Of The Universe label combining the first two KRAFTWERK albums which looks like to be a legalized one.

This debut is spiked with a lot of uncommon sound effects and expresses an avantgarde attitude. It sounds ahead of its time and is produced by ... engineering pioneer Conny Plank of course. Anyhow - it surprisingly entered the german LP charts. Ruckzuck developed to an often demanded song in subculture discotheques and additionally the minimalistic main theme was used as the title melody for a longtime political magazine on german television. Looking at the line-up first you might expect an emphasis on drum instruments. But 'Tone Float' is much more percussion drenched. On the other hand Klaus Dinger is with the band now who later formed NEU! and continued to follow the kraut paths. He appears with a repetitive monotonous drum playing preferably to hear on Ruckzuck which has a very special drive also caused by the staccato flute played by Florian Schneider. The weird middle section of the song is mostly ignored but an excellent example for more sophisticated improvised krautrock. This song was celebrated as a prefered part of their live performances (ditto for the late ORGANISATION gigs) - often with a very experimental approach and anything but monotonous.

Another reason which makes this album unique is the use of a tubon by Hütter. This special portable organ might represent the transition from traditional organ to the new synthesizer era and is responsible for several unusual tones sometimes sounding near to guitar, bass or saxophone. Stratovarius follows as a good example for that with a scary organ start-up detached by crazy Stockhausen alike and psychedelic grooving parts - finally ending into a furious finale. Except the drums and some decent violin and flute contributions thîs must be completely realized by the tubon - fascinating!

The song title Megaherz anticipates the subsequent KRAFTWERK intention to express the relationship of humans and machines within their music - appearing as a more spaced out interpretation - atmospheric, relaxed, with lack of percussion. Vom Himmel Hoch is the title of a german Christmas song and seems to be symbolically used as an appeal against the war - supported by effects sounding like aircrafts attacking with bombs. An intensive drum and organ duel with some jazzy moments is dominating this song further on.

I recommend to open up for KRAFTWERK's avantgarde approach and to take enough time for some rounds. It differs to the later times when they decided to take the 'Autobahn'. Fans who like their newer electronic style reflecting a pop appeal might be confused and disappointed listening to this. On the other hand it's a must have for prog fans who want to discover and collect early german experimental output.

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I discovered ''Kraftwerk'' when I was sixteen. In '75, it was almost impossible to escape the massive airplay of ''Radioactivity'' and the least that I can say is that I quite liked it.

I was curious enough to dig backwards in their catalogue (but no further than ''Autobahn'') and I would follow them up to ''The Man Machine''. Although I liked some tracks from this band, I have been a devoted follower. Still, lots a years later, I entered their early catalogue of which this album is the first one as the ''Kraftwerk'' entity.

Even if the mechanical beats are not yet present on this work, the repetitive approach of the music is already inherent to this work (''Retreat''). The experimental ''Stratovarius'' can't really move either, but to be honest; I have never been into this type of music. I was actually not aware that ''Kraftwerk'' did play this type of music until recently.

To my ears, there is a short portion of ''Stratovarius'' that sounds to music (an upbeat but short middle part) but most of it consists of noises put together. This is how I feel. It is amazing though how these four guys who are using conventional instruments are able to screw it up so intensively.

A track as ''Megaherz'' holds some Tangerine Dream texture in its initial phase, but it is invaded by weird sounds every now and then. Too bad, since it would have been a fine spacey moment otherwise. It is a very atmospheric track and my fave here.

To be complete, I have to confess that most of ''From the High Skies'' is pretty indigestible: so you get the picture.

When I listened to this album, I could only be pleased that they changed their style later on; at least they sounded funny, even if they didn't look like this.

Two stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Kraftwerk" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by German krautrock/electronic music act Kraftwerk. The album was released through Philips in November 1970. Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider had been part of the pre-Kraftwerk act Organisation that released the experiemental krautrock album "Tone Float" in 1969 and then disbanded. The two musicians joined forces with drummers Klaus Dinger (later of Neu!) and Andreas Hohmann and became Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk is mostly known for their later electronic music releases but their early albums are mostly in experimental krautrock territory.

The music on the album is in the repetitive krautrock style with driving beats and a psychadelic instrumental approach but there are also many ambient experimental sound parts on the album. Keyboards, flutes, violin and woodwinds are a part of the instrumentation in addition to the percussive assault. The album opens very strong with the excellent "Retreat (Ruckzuck)" which to my ears is THE highlight of the album. It´s a great krautrock track with repetitive beats and some cool flute playing. After "Retreat (Ruckzuck)" the gas slowly leaves the ballon though. Already on the second track "Stratovarius" noisy ambient experimentation takes over and the experimental parts which provided "Retreat (Ruckzuck)" with an adventurous twist, are on "Stratovarius" a real challenge to get through (the middle section of the song is pretty great though). The remaining two tracks "Megaherz" and "From the High Skies (Von Himmel Hoch)" feature ambient and noisy experimental parts too and while that has always been a dominant part of krautrock, it´s a bit more avant garde/experimental here than on more easily digestable contemporary krautrock releases.

The sound production is of a very high quality considering the fact that this album was released in 1970. Producer Conny Plank is not without reason referred to as a legend by many. Upon conclusion "Kraftwerk" is an interesting debut album and fans of the more experimental and ambient part of the krautrock genre will probably enjoy this one greatly. For those of us who prefer a bit more structure, not as much improvised experimentation and more memorable songwriting, this is not really the place to start listening to either krautrock nor to Kraftwerk in general. A 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The first Kraftwerk album proper proves to be a highly experimental and frequently frustrating effort, which finds the group's trademark electronic sound tempered by an avant-garde, early Tangerine Dream-style acid-krautrock approach that leaves little room for the engaging melodies that would make later albums such as 'Autobahn' and 'The Man Machine' international breakthrough hits. At this stage of their burgeoning career at least, group founders Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider seem unsure of which musical direction they should be heading, but there are shreds of interest to be found amongst the four long, unwieldy pieces that make up this self-titled affair, with the compressed flute percussion of 'Ruckzuck' pointing funkily towards the bands commercial future. 'Ruckzuck' apart, however, 'Kraftwerk 1' is one for the electronic fans who enjoy the likes of Karl-Heinz Stockhausen, early Cluster and Brian Eno. To recap then: All very interesting - but it's a lot of hard work. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
Bonnek avatar
4 stars After the demise of Organisation, Ralf and Florian teamed up with drummer Andreas Hohmann to re-form under the new band name Kraftwerk. Hohmann didn't prove to be a very reliable band-member and since he was too busy with his own band Ibliss, Klaus Dinger stepped in for him. During this era also guitarist Michael Rother made live appearances with Kraftwerk. He would take Klaus Dinger with him to form Neu! in the next year.

This background shows how strongly Kraftwerk was tied in with the Krautrock scene before they changed into an entirely different but equally ground-breaking electronic direction. On this debut, the band presents themselves as a cutting-edge avant-rock act, and in just 4 tracks they lay down the groundwork of the more experimental side of Krautrock, serving as a source of inspiration for avant-Kraut bands like Neu!, Faust and Can (on their avant albums Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi).

Ruckzuck is probably the most accessible track. As with Neu, a steady pulsating groove drives things forward, while flutes, violin and experimental noise build layers of sound around it. My favorite track would be Stratovarius. The dark brooding pace, heavily treated violin sounds and rhythmical guitar strumming create a cosmic sound that must also have inspired early Tangerine Dream. The opening part before the drums join is magical. A little Kraut masterpiece this is.

More cosmic Kraut follows on Megahertz, with its droning organs and dissonant flutes this could have found its way on Tangerine Dream's Atem. It beats the Tangs though. Von Himmel Hoch is the most chaotic piece, a combination of sound effects, noise, free improvisation and ecstatic drumming. It's hard to describe how they manage to make this all work but it does. For me at least.

This is not your easy-listening Agitation Free type of Kraut, but a band that was a disconcertingly experimental and creative force. An essential Krautrock album and a challenging but rewarding musical experience. Don't go in if you need your music to come with melody and clear-cut structures. 4.5 stars for sure and ask me again in 20 more years.

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This self-titled debut from the first real incarnation of Kraftwerk out of the ashes of Organisation is more of the krautrock style that dominated Tone Float, except this album shows further experimentation. The music on this album sounds closest to a mixture of Amon Duul II, Sun Ra, and Neu!

Kraftwerk's electronic music is iconic and is what they are famous for, but their krautrock material is of very high quality. I'd rank this up top with Electric Free Sound by Gila and the best Can music, and it's really a shame that the early Kraftwerk albums are on a slight level of obscurity outside of this progressive rock community.

I'd have to say the stand out tracks on this album are the last two, "Megaherz" and "Von Himmel Hoch", which are basically bizarre kosmische sonic experiments for keyboard and manipulated guitar. Not exactly anything with a clear beat to follow, but it is fantastic for fans of the avant- garde scene.

Highly recommended obscure krautrock by future progressive robo-electro pop kings.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Kraftwerk's debut shows an interesting middle ground between the organic sound of Organisation (whose sole album slipped out only a handful of months before the new band set to work recording this one) and the crisp electronic vibe they would eventually hit upon later in their career. Possibly the best song on the album is Ruckzuck, which exemplifies this transitional nature well - over a processed organ line which sounds about 10 years ahead of its time for 1970, Schneider lays down flute passages whilst the rhythm section plays backing. The hint of electronic structures to come creeping into the already somewhat nostalgic tones of psychedelia pretty much sums up the album. Closing track Von Himmel Hoch includes a strange gushing, steaming sound towards the end that makes me think of the sort of industrial sounds which would inspire the Industrial scene in decades to come.

A good start, though Kraftwerk would achieve more striking and enduring results in albums to come. It's definitely interesting to listen to, but I wouldn't call it essential by any means.

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Next to TANGERINE DREAM's "Electronic Meditation" this has to be the most unlikely debut album from any band on the road to global synth-rock superstardom. But today that same implausibility is a large part of its cult appeal: the chance to hear Ralf and Florian before their cybernetic face-lift, playing grungy experimental Krautrock not far removed from what their ex-bandmates would soon be doing in NEU!

Maybe calling the album 'experimental' is granting the band too much credit, however. Like other young German musicians, Ralf Hütter would later pay lip service to the Krautrock myth of Stunde Null: the belief that after World War II his generation rebuilt a new musical identity from the rubble up, without any English or American influences (not entirely true, but that's a discussion for elsewhere). Early Kraftwerk came closer than most to that ideal, but in 1971 they weren't exactly cutting any innovative musical edges yet.

In fact, depending on how broadly you define the word there might not be much real music on this disc at all, and what little there is lacks the thematic focus of later Kraftwerk hits. The band's only nod to musical development was limited at the time to arbitrary tempo changes and random buzz-bomb sound effects, with the occasional ambient detour ("Megaherz"). The signature rhythm of "Ruckzuck" and the brief jam in the latter half of "Stratovarius" are as groovy as this music ever gets, played in a style described (affectionately) by Julian Cope as "so tight-assed you want to prise it apart with a hammer."

Clearly this was a band in need of direction. And yet there's still something compelling about their first recorded effort, from the bright pop-art logo to the primitive blitzkrieg of "Von Himmel Hoch". But as much as I'd like to upgrade it the album doesn't really deserve more than three stars: there was better, farther reaching, and more influential Krautrock being made elsewhere at the same time.

Latest members reviews

2 stars I must begin by saying that the music here is very experimental and the genre has never been a personal favourite of mine. Fans of early Tangerine Dream or Can should like this first Kraftwerk release. The most listenable track for me is the opener "Ruckzuck" which is driven by a powerful flute riff ... (read more)

Report this review (#397645) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the only record by Kraftwerk I own at the moment, but it's really a brilliant record with very much groovey, floating and avant-garde pieces. I really like the intro of 'Retreat (Ruckzuck)' and the main minimalistic melody with nice flute lines and a few avant-garde parts. The sec ... (read more)

Report this review (#210595) | Posted by Foolsdrummer | Monday, April 06, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Yes the blueprint album for the later on electronic pop music they would later develop on in the later part of Kraftwerk's career. This is the debut self titled album from Kraftwerk released in the winter of 1970 and bands like Can and Tangerine Dream were already in the game but were Kraftwerk ... (read more)

Report this review (#65403) | Posted by craig4 | Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Now, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw Kraftwerk's radio-activity album has been "what the hell is it doing here!!!" and then I realized how much I love this one... Well, I still don't believe Kraftwerk's music fits into "krautrock" category, apart from the first two albums, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#34595) | Posted by Bilek | Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars KRAFTWERK's debut is one of groundbreaking albums in the beginning of the Krautrock scene. It was released in the same year as TANGERINE DREAM's "Electronic Meditation" for example. This album has some interesting instrumentation including a lot of acoustic instruments which were later abandoned ... (read more)

Report this review (#34592) | Posted by terramystic | Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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