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Kraftwerk - Kraftwerk CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.34 | 186 ratings

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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.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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