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KRAFTWERK

Progressive Electronic • Germany


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Kraftwerk biography
Remaining one of the most influential bands in the history of popular music, we mustn't forget that KRAFTWERK typical sound is the result of many years and decades of experimentations, continuous works and researches in the possibilities offered by the acoustic, electronic and rock instruments.

In 1968, the two original members (Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter, two longstanding friends) formed ORGANISATION. The famous German producer Conny Plank helped them to record their first album "Tone Float". Historically this album figures among the first albums released in the Krautrock genre, next to recordings from CAN, AMON DUUL, TANGERINE DREAM. The tone is floating but above all largely dominated by long, free improvisations, mixing organs, electronic experimentations with acoustic percussions.

During the year 1970, R. Hutter and F. Schneider dissolved the band to form KRAFTWERK whose name means power station (in German). Klaus Dinger and Andreas Hokman join the band and record an album called "Kraftwerk". Very minimalist, the record's cover is a perfect illustration of a repetitive music made of sound manipulations, punctuated by the flute and the electronic organ parts. The atmosphere is slightly "garage", a bit noisy, sometimes ethereal and spacey (Megahertz). At this time, the band's reputation remains discreet, despite a certain success. One year later in 1971, Klaus Dinger leaves the band to form NEU! with Michael Rother. "Kraftwerk 2" is released the same year and pursues on the way defined by the previous album (a lot of experimental guitar parts, distorted sounds, repetitive rhythms, gradual process.).

In 1973, Florian Schneider decides to put the stress on electronic percussions and contemporary sound researches. "Ralf & Florian" marks a turning point in the band's career. The melodies and the sound used begins more and more pop orientated despite that the recordings strive to bring to the fore the talent of Schneider and Hutter as musicians. In 1974, a new start announces the creation of the "Kling Klang" studio; a small laboratory entirely devoted to advanced electronic researches and investments in new synthesisers. In the album "Autobahn" the Mini Moog and others synthesisers supplant definitely the improvisations and the aleatoric experimentations.

With captivated and very efficient melodies this album is the first of a long commercial success for the band. The band's members settle down, Wolgang Flur, Karl Bart...
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  • Hall Of Mirrors Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express], 1977
  • Metropolis The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine], 1978

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Computer WorldComputer World
Import
Elektra 2006
Audio CD$4.53
$4.23 (used)
The Man Machine 2009 Digital RemasterThe Man Machine 2009 Digital Remaster
Parlophone 2009
Audio CD$10.21
$10.20 (used)
Autobahn 2009 Digital RemasterAutobahn 2009 Digital Remaster
Parlophone 2009
Audio CD$7.72
$7.71 (used)
Trans Europe Express 2009 Digital RemasterTrans Europe Express 2009 Digital Remaster
Parlophone 2009
Audio CD$8.58
$8.57 (used)
Electric CafeElectric Cafe
Import
Elektra / Wea 1990
Audio CD$9.98
$4.49 (used)
Tour De France SoundtracksTour De France Soundtracks
Astralwerks 2003
Audio CD$21.95
$2.32 (used)
Tour De FranceTour De France
Parlophone 2009
Vinyl$18.28
$63.86 (used)
Trans Europa ExpressTrans Europa Express
Import
WARNER BROTHERS IMPORT 2009
Audio CD$17.64
$22.39 (used)
Techno PopTechno Pop
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
Audio CD$9.56
$12.49 (used)
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KRAFTWERK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KRAFTWERK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 74 ratings
Organisation: Tone Float
1969
3.34 | 128 ratings
Kraftwerk
1970
3.13 | 96 ratings
Kraftwerk 2
1971
3.51 | 90 ratings
Ralf & Florian
1973
3.51 | 270 ratings
Autobahn
1974
3.16 | 164 ratings
Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität]
1975
3.88 | 277 ratings
Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express]
1977
3.95 | 318 ratings
The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine]
1978
3.79 | 203 ratings
Computer World [Aka: Computerwelt]
1981
2.34 | 89 ratings
Electric Café [Aka: Techno Pop]
1986
3.32 | 86 ratings
Tour De France Soundtracks
2003

KRAFTWERK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.90 | 15 ratings
Concert Classics
1998
3.32 | 46 ratings
Minimum Maximum
2005

KRAFTWERK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.88 | 30 ratings
Minimum Maximum
2005
3.92 | 12 ratings
Kraftwerk And The Electronic Revolution
2008

KRAFTWERK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 10 ratings
Kraftwerk (1 and 2)
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk 2
1975
1.38 | 11 ratings
Exceller 8
1975
3.67 | 3 ratings
Pop Lions - Autobahn
1976
3.00 | 6 ratings
Doppelalbum
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kometenmelodie 2 (Compilation)
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk 1
1977
3.33 | 3 ratings
Highrail
1979
2.83 | 64 ratings
The Mix
1991
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Model
1994
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Capitol Years: Three Originals
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Kraftwerk
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kraftwerk (Box Set)
1997
4.67 | 12 ratings
The Catalogue
2009

KRAFTWERK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Ruckzack
1970
3.71 | 6 ratings
Kohoutek - Kometenmelodie
1973
4.20 | 5 ratings
Kometenmelodie 2
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mitternacht / Morgenspaziergang
1974
3.00 | 1 ratings
Trans Europa Express
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Showroom Dummies
1977
3.00 | 1 ratings
Les Mannequins
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Das Model
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Die Roboter
1978
4.15 | 8 ratings
Neon Lights
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Computerwelt
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Numbers
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Taschenrechner
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Computer Love
1981
4.13 | 15 ratings
Tour De France
1983
4.00 | 1 ratings
Musique Non Stop
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Der Telefon Anruf
1987
4.13 | 8 ratings
Die Roboter
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Robotnik
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Showroom Dummies (1992 Single)
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Homecomputer
1997
1.56 | 7 ratings
Expo 2000
1999
4.17 | 6 ratings
Expo 2000 (Remix)
2000
3.57 | 7 ratings
Expo Remix
2001
3.71 | 7 ratings
Tour De France 2003
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Elektro Kardiogramm
2003
2.35 | 7 ratings
Aerodynamik
2007

KRAFTWERK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.88 | 277 ratings

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Trans-Europe Express [Aka: Trans-Europa Express]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A highly cheesy approach to synth pop which found its way to trascend through an awesome iconic like visual concept beyond its mere boring and simplistic songwriting. KFRAFTWERK was like a joke which became relevant to most of its followers to the point of idolatry.

Most of these Trans-Europe Express, 1977, tracks repeat KRAFTWERK's formula - short sequencer riffs , electro-drumming and the "happy" hooks they are well known for. I myself have always felt disappointed with KRAFTWERK's highly inventive visual/marketing concept and the middle of the road music they actually deliver. Sadly this release just confirms my quiet low expectations.

Anyway, lots of people get their kicks from these guys in some way or another, but I can't hardly distinguish one song from the other, aside from their monotonous robotic sung lyrics.

If you could not care less for their visual concept or biography but for the music itself, as I do, well leave it to its loyal followers to lend you a copy and buy, non PA included, ULTRAVOX's "HA!-HA!-HA!", far more daring and fun and released that same year.

**2.5 PA stars.

 Ralf & Florian by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.51 | 90 ratings

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Ralf & Florian
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Ralf and Florian is the third studio album from electronic group Kraftwerk. While the strange Kraftwerk 2 didn't feature any electronic elements as well as having little to do with the self-titled debut, Ralf and Florian (named after the duo themselves, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider) shows the first signs of the groups pioneering electronic sound. It would take Autobahn for these ideas to fully take form, as there are still remnants of the band's Krautrock beginnings, but that has no effect on the quality of this release.

The thing that sets Ralf and Florian apart from it's predecessors is that they took the best elements of their Krautrock style and melded it with classical music and the very beginning of electronic music. "Kristallo (Crystals)" shows these beginnings of an entirely new kind of music, and is one of my favorite Kraftwerk songs in general. In front of a toe-tapping beat and catchy galloping electronics, are serene keyboards with a slight bittersweet tone. "Ananas Symphonie (Pineapple Symphony)" features more electronic innovation, but on the ambient end. This is a very relaxing track, as well as the longest clocking in at just under 14 minutes, with subtle musical changes that mix together very naturally. It's a song that makes one feel like laying down on a hammock outside and just letting the stress float away. "Heimatklänge (The Bells of Home)" showcase the influences from classical music, in the form of soulful piano.

Often transitional albums will suffer from inconsistency, but Kraftwerk were able to take the styles they knew and blend them perfectly with new ideas. This is an album that sounds both focused and free at the same time, with a goal to create music but with the only boundary being the band's own creativity. Unfortunately overshadowed by Autobahn, Ralf and Florian deserves to be heard as it's both a very enjoyable and historically important album.

 Kraftwerk 2 by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.13 | 96 ratings

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Kraftwerk 2
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Pastmaster

2 stars Kraftwerk 2 is, as the title suggests, the second studio album from electronic band Kraftwerk. With the departure of drummer Klaus Dinger, who went to form the band Neu!, Kraftwerk was reduced to the duo of Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. With no drums, how do they continue with a Krautrock sound? Well, they don't, but it's not electronic music yet either. Instead, this is more of a "We'll do whatever weird [&*!#] we want" kind of album. There is lots of random noise to be heard here, which is not something I look for.

Don't be completely worried though, as Kraftwerk still relies on repetitive rhythms and still keeps some structure into their music. The opening song's name may sound familiar, as Kraftwerk's private recording studio Kling Klang was named after this opening track. This song takes place as the longest of the album, and the majority of it is based around a pretty boring repetitive melody. I must say though that it sounds interestingly similar to a passage in Autobahn's title track, and props to this song if it led to the creation of that masterpiece. However, it starts out with eerie out-of-tune bells and triangles, which is not pleasant listening in any way. Then you have "Atem", which is just three minutes of someone breathing, giving a pretty uncomfortable vibe plus just being useless.

The second side of the album doesn't have much going for it either, unfortunately. "Spule 4" is just mostly silence with occasional out-of-tune guitar riffs which just sound like someone plucking a guitar for the first time with no previous musical experience. "Harmonika" is just high-pitched noise, that will most likely make your ears bleed. While so far this album sounds pretty bad, there is some saving grace. "Strom" is a pretty decent song, relying on a droning riff and some symphonic instrumentation. The real winner is "Wellenlänge", which sounds like if Tool devoted an entire nine-minute long song to the experimental acoustic interludes of their albums. You hear droning bass reverb, subtle acoustic plucking with a bit of melancholic touch.

Unfortunately, Kraftwerk 2 is a step-down from the debut which had a bit more structure. It is definitely worth listening to "Wellenlänge", but the rest of the album isn't anything worth writing home about. Kraftwerk would certainly find their way on the next album, along with developing what they are known for.

 Kraftwerk by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.34 | 128 ratings

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Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Pastmaster

3 stars Kraftwerk is the self-titled debut studio album from electronic innovators Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk's first two albums are very different beasts compared to their innovations and the creation of electronic music with albums like Autobahn, being much more in line with the experimental rock music of many other German bands of the Krautrock scene. What is Krautrock? Read on fellow music fans!

At the beginning of the decade of the 70's, the time of many new musical developments, the Krautrock movement in Germany was especially busy. Krautrock wasn't so much a genre, as it was a group of musicians expanding the boundaries of rock music. Can combined tribal rhythms, psychedelic twists, and a rough proto-punk sound. Neu! essentially jammed with hard rock riffs and droning dissonance. Tangerine Dream, another early electronic group, took psychedelic rock and basically left out the rock leading to ambient music. Kraftwerk, before going on to be pioneers of electronic music, were on the similar jamming path as Neu!. This is unsurprising as Neu! was formed a year after this debut by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother, who were both part of Kraftwerk before leaving to form the aforementioned band. The former playing drums on the final song on the album.

As soon as the opening flute of "Ruckzuck" enters your ears, you'll hear how much of a far-cry this is from Kraftwerk's later material. This opening doesn't last for long though, as the song quickly gaining a repetitive riff with the flute sliding into the background. The song slowly increases speed before the random jamming begins. The next song, "Stratovarius", relies more on noise to disrupt your ears. However, unlike noise "music" of today, Kraftwerk remembers that they still should write a song. Once you get past the five minutes of noise, there's some great guitar riffs and soloing to be found here. "Megaherz" is unfortunately nothing but drone and noise, with no substance to make it interesting in anyway. Fortunately, the album ends on a high note with "Von Himmel Hoch" which certainly surrounds you with a wall of sound. The English translation of the title, "From the Sky Above", is very fitting as there are sounds of bombs going off combined with chaotic drums and droning riffs.

This entirely instrumental album may bear no resemblance to the Kraftwerk we all know and love, but it's still a pretty good album for what it is. Sometimes the noise and drone can get too much, and "Megaherz" is utterly pointless, but despite this it does have enough interesting bits to keep it interesting. If you want to hear electronic music, skip to Ralf and Florian or Autobahn. However, if you like noisy Krautrock jamming, this is probably right up your alley.

 Minimum Maximum by KRAFTWERK album cover DVD/Video, 2005
3.88 | 30 ratings

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Minimum Maximum
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Emiliano

4 stars This DVD is a testament of Kraftwerk live in the 2000's. Long gone are the analog kraftwerk-crafted electronics, which have been replaced by digital samplers and effects. Yet, Kraftwerk is somehow able to retain its magic of yesteryears and its vision on technology. Should Kraftwerk launch an album today they wouldn't need to talk about computing or social media. Somehow they envisioned the effect of computers in society back in the 80's when they made Computerworld: "Control data memory."

So, what can be appealing of a Kraftwerk show in a digital age? Simple, videos synchronized to their songs. And these are aesthetically haunting. I can drool half an hour in front of the screen when watching "Vitamin". It is just so psychodelic (so take a note LSD fans, legal drugs may also rock.) Other videos that follow suit are Computerworld with its daunting minimalistic (protest?) lyrics, Neon Lights, Trans Europe Express and Numbers. Neon Lights somehow takes you back to the eighties and makes you wonder how amazed must have been Ralf and Florian back in the days with technological advancement. Trans Europe Express sets off as any other regular video until it gets on tracks. The synchronicity of the railway with the song cannot be more amazing.

By this era, some songs would be subject to changes, such as Die Roboter, Autobahn and Radioactivity. Sincerely, I don't know whether there is more than one version of the DVD. In any case, I prefer the old Radioactivity over the 90's one, it has an aesthetical magic that the dance number placed in the middle section during the 90's manages to ruin. Nevertheless, the awareness rising intro makes quite a statement on Kraftwerk's idiosyncracry. Autobahn was more than halved during the 90's for somehow obvious reasons. However, it still manages to keep its charm and the video sequence mimicking Autobahn's cover is fun. Die Roboter, instead was extended and made a dancier number, whilst retaining its charm. The way Kraftwerk opts to execute it is greatly rewarding, so I will not spoil it. It is up to you to enjoy it.

A special mention must be made to The Man Machine and Numbers, which are always great songs. It is also worth mentioning how funny is that most Kraftwerk fans stay put during the concert but for two fellas in the front row who jump and dance as if they were at Creamfields. Everyone is entitled to have fun in their manner: Kraftwerk has fun by pretending to be detached. Truth is that Kraftwerk is more reality-grounded than most bands.

 Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.16 | 164 ratings

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Radio-Activity [Aka: Radio-Aktivität]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Emiliano

5 stars The main question to this review is why I regard this album essential. I give it that it is not a prog-rock essential album, instead it is something quite more important: a XX century essential music album. I don't even like all songs in there, yet there is something that glues the whole album together as an other-wordly experience: Kraftwerk's artistic concept being fully and consistently expressed for the first time. This album paved the way for electronic music as a popular genre. Plus, it is one of the few albums I enjoyed first listening on tape (insert Tubular Bells joke here, I'll just say I went straight into The Nostalgia Factory in this sentence.) If you are aware of Kraftwerk's artisitic concept, then you now that Radioactivity is the big deal. The extent to which one can like the album, well... it's a matter of tastes.

Radioactivity showcases the following traits that make up most of Kraftwerk's identity: 1) Songs reflecting the influence technology in the XX century. Just think of the effects of radio (as media) and radioactivity in society. No one today can say their lives haven't been somehow changed by these two scientific breakthroughs. Kraftwerk even changed the lyrics of Radioactivity from the 90's and onwards to raise awareness on the downturns of this discovery. 2) Minimalistic approach. Yes, there are two eras in Kraftwerk's sound: free improvisation in the krautrock era, and minimalism as of this album which is the onset of Kraftwerk's electronic era. 3) Multilingualism. There are many songs of this album recorded or played live in several languages, including German, English and Japanese. 4) Concept albums. This is the first honest-to-true concept album of Kraftwerk. 5) Embracing electronic effects. Well, this existed throughout Kraftwerk's history, but this album is pivotal in this regard. From then onwards, Kraftwerk would try to use as much technology as possible to play their songs. Live shows nowadays include a VJ playing 3D projections, by the way. 6) Detachment. Part of Kraftwerk's appeal lies in reflecting societies' trend to alienation through technology. This album attempts to recreate this through the construction of musical atmosphere, though I believe this trait to be first fully realized in The Man Machine.

Song-wise, Geiger Counter, Radioactivity, Airwaves and Ohm Sweet Ohm are the best in the album. Others, I don't like that much, but as I said, album-wise it is an engaging experience. Plus, Ohm Sweet Ohm makes an excellent climax as the album's ending. Other songs in the realm of prog I can think of that can have the same effect in their respective albums are: Eclipse, Shine on You Crazy Diamond Parts VI-IX, Dark Matter, Feel So Low, and In the Court of the Crimson King.

 The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine] by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 318 ratings

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The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine]
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the most influential albums of all times. In the late 70´s I remember listening to The Model on the radio and could not believe my ears: it was so simple and yet so engaging! Only electronic instrumentation, no guitars, bass or other common instrument. The vocals were even simpler and unadorned, but they were perfect! It was the a pop song and a dance song in three minutes of pure delight! this set the tone for the whole CD: electronic music for the masses! Nothing too complicated, or too crazy or vague as were so many records of the style up till then: just minimalist arrangements, few vocals and great melodies!

Looking back is easy to see why the post punk generation understood so well Kraftwerk´s anti-rock stance: their looks were not fashionable for the time, but still they had it perfect crafted for their sound. Their music denied any arena rock cliche of the 70´s: no guitar hero, not even a "real" lead singer, no ten minute drum solo, no nothing! All those new wave groups that emerged in the 80´s owe a great deal of their sound and concept to these Germans: OMD, Human League, Visage, Gary Numan, Simple Minds, Thomas Dolby, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and hundreds of others were deeply influenced by Kraftwerk in one way or another, in great or lesser degree, but they all were, and Man Machine was way ahead of its time.

I know a lot of people here that will dismiss Kraftwerk in general - and The Man-Machine in particular - as too simple and too predictable for their tastes.Still it was revolutionary music that would change the scene in the next decades in a way that no other single band could do (except the Beatles). Punk music may have aimed to shake the rock establishment foundations, but Kraftwerk did it without spitting in the audience nor sticking safety pins on their faces. It was a subtle revolution. but a very lasting one!

A terrific record that has stood the test of time with honors.

 Autobahn by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.51 | 270 ratings

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Autobahn
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

5 stars One of the most influential albums of musical history of all times, Kraftwerk´s third album is definitely a landmark on contemporary music. I can understand the low ratings it got here on PA since their influence was mainly felt on dance and techno-pop genres, which a lot of progheads seems to have a deep love to hate them. However, their music open new roads into many different ways and it was, for the time, revolutionary and groundbreaking. By shedding away most of the avant guard elements (but not all of them), taking catchy melodies into electronic and giving them a steady beat, they did something unheard of. So much so that when an american manager asked them to release a 3 minute version of the title song in a single, the result was a top twenty hit in America! It was the first time a German band achieved that feat. And to top it all, it was sung in their native language!

But the album showed much more than that. The long version is quite bold and interesting: written to simulate a ride by car from Berlim to Bonn in their autobhan. USA, with its freeways might explain the unlike relation to the song, plus the vocal line is an obvious lift from the Beach Boys Barbara Ann. It was minimalist music taken to new heights. The remaining tracks are also good, although not as remarkable, with the exception of Kometenmelodie 2 (Comet Melody 2 ), with its beautiful melody line and driving beat. Mitternacht (Midnight ) is their link with the former avant guard/electronic past. Morgenspaziergang (Morning Walk ), on the other hand, is a bucolic piece, featuring acoustic piano and recorder (played by Florian Schneider), the last time they ever used acoustic instruments on record. For this LP the original masterminds Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter recruited two new members: Klaus Roeder (violin, guitar) and Wolfgang Flür (electronic percussion). Roeder is hardly noticed and soon would be gone, but Flür would become part of the so called "classic" line up, with future member Karl Bartos. Much credit must be due to legendary engineer and producer Konrad "Conny" Plank, who helped build the new sound and never got it.

It´s interesting to listen to this record today: It sounds a little "bland" and primitive. Maybe because it was so imitated. When David Bowie heard it and decided to adopted the style for himself the musical change was a long and powerful one. That would be hardly possible without Kraftwerk´s pioneering work. And the band would prove themselves to be no hoax in their future releases.

Rating: musically nowadays and for personal tastes maybe the record itself deserved only 4 stars, but for its historical importance there is no way to deny its classic status, and it is a masterpiece of progressive music. Love it or hate it. 5 stars.

 Organisation: Tone Float by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.15 | 74 ratings

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Organisation: Tone Float
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I got this one out of pure curiosity. I am currently reading Kraftwerk´s excellent biography Publikation and I was interested in learning a bit more about their early days. As I was expecting, this one has very little to do with the Kraftwerk sounds we all know. this is a far more experimental/krautrock/psychedelic act of the day. There are no songs as such, they are more like jams and seem to be more or less created at the moment. Although both main members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider are here, you´ll hardly notice. Lots of percussion by courtesy of indian born Basil Hammoud. In fact, the whole side 1 of the original vinyl is an exercise of percussive instruments laced with some other instruments here and there. I found it rather hard to listen to its 20:46 minutes of running time, although I must admit that some flute playing by Schneider is indeed interesting (he was much more an accomplished flutist than I thought).

By the end of side two things improve a little, which is not much, but at least the tunes seem to have a little more direction and melodies. Still, like so many other free styled jams of the period, it is not my cup of tea. Most of the stuff just seems pointless exercises that, if recorded, should be used only to pick up the best bits for use on more structured and and dynamic stuff known as songs. If it was not that flimsy link with Kraftwerk I wonder if this record would be of any interest at all (expect for those few who really enjoy this kind of music - and there were far better groups doing the same genre).

Recommended only for Kraftwerk completionists and die hard fans of long, improvised, spacey jams. 2 stars.

 Autobahn by KRAFTWERK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.51 | 270 ratings

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Autobahn
Kraftwerk Progressive Electronic

Review by RaelWV

4 stars It was inevitable when I started diving into electronic music a few years ago that I'd eventually wind my way to Kraftwerk. To lots of people the German pioneers are electronic music, at least of the accessible pop-flavored variety. No album is more responsible for that than Autobahn. It was, rather inexplicably, a hit in the United States and in Europe.

Autobahn is technically not the first Kraftwerk album, but it might as well be. In fact, main men Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter have essentially disowned the three albums that came before (they've never been released on CD, IIRC). From what little I've heard of those albums, there is some recognizable Kraftwerking going on, but they had not yet fully embraced electronics they way they did on Autobahn (and later, of course).

There's also a conceptual rigor that starts to be flexed on Autobahn that would really bear fruit on the next several albums, at least when it comes to what was (back in the olde days) side one. The title track, an epic of proggy proportions, sprawls out across that side, conveying musically a car trip across Germany. Lyrics are sparse and in German, although the refrain of "fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn" has the effect of sounding like a Beach Boys reference (not intentional, from what I understand). The music is undeniably electronic, although Schneider's flute still makes a couple of appearances.

The concept doesn't hold over to side two, which appears to be kind of neglected by listeners as a result. Regardless, it contains the track that convinced me to keep digging in the Kraftwerk katalog. "Kometenmelodie" is another epic, split into two parts. The first part sounds like something I might come up with on a particularly inspired evening, which is maybe why I like it so much.

Autobahn isn't my favorite Kraftwerk album from stem to stern. But it was the onramp, so to speak, for my discovery of the band. Apparently, it was the same for lots of other folks, too.

On a related note, if you're interested in Kraftwerk and the German experimental music scene from which they sprang, I highly recommend the documentary Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution. It's long (3 hours!), but it covers a lot of ground and provides some interesting insight into the whole milieu that was German music in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The film's biggest flaw is that neither Schneider nor Hutter participated, although Karl Bartos (who joined just after Autobahn) provides some interesting insight.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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