A BRIEF HISTORY OF: KRAUTROCK AND THE GERMAN MUSICAL REVOLUTIONArticle
Electro • Industrial • Krautrock 27/03/2019, Kevin BURKE
What is Krautrock?
For the less experienced reader, Krautrock is the term created by the music press, John Peel in particular along with the general media to explain the electronic sound experimentation which sprung out of Germany in the latter part of the sixties and right through the seventies.
This sound had no real niche genre, a mix of avant garde, psychedelic world music, touches of jazz improvisation, minimalism and electronic waves combined together.
The electronic-energy shot forth from the grey industrial cities of Berlin and Düsseldorf, painting a multicoloured sky of both creativity and hope in a generation struggling with its identity.
In response it formed one of the most fascinating and at times inspirational free journeys, as no compass points directly to its source, instead giving us a completely new and brave way of creating music. Although at the same time managing to remain a hybrid of all that came before.
What differentiates it from the British counterculture and American styled move towards progressive and hard rock is the music form, while minimalistic it was created without drug inspiration, and instead by West-German students of engineering.
These students seeking escapism and living under the cloud of the Post-War along with the Cold War ,sought adventure and took inspiration from musical inventors such as La Monte Young and his drone experiments, taking it and twisting it a few steps into the future.
What may have seemed soulless still had an energy that was driving at its very core, the frustration of the climate and the surroundings leant these students to take the ethos that if you built it to create sound you made it your own voice and a part of yourself became ingrained into these creations. In other words there was a beauty found in the stone wall imperfections that is still present today.
Bands such as Faust, Can,Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Neu! and of course La Düsseldorf were all tagged under this made-up banner, and here we come to the legacy of this creative phase in twentieth century music,the inspiration left in the wake of the art eruption.
The sound that sprung up still resonates today, the genre paved the way for Techno and House Music, looking at the bands who cite the era as highly influential on their creativity you understand the importance of Krautrock. Artists such as Joy Division, New Order, Tubeway Army, OMD and the well publicised work of David Bowie in his 'Berlin' phase.
Those heavy bass-drum patterns surrounded by an electronic atmosphere still echoed through the dance music of the nineties, though always copied and added to but never quiet bettered, the excitement of experimentation did not translate as well for bands outside of Germany.
The art and electronic-injected-soul of Krautrock being a beast created in circumstance and the nature of a country at the time, easy now to emulate but the oppression those students felt in the 1960s spurred what is Krautrock, their message and their voice projected to the world in waves of electronic soundscapes.
The tools used to create these sounds were not normal instruments, at times the only recognisable instrument is perhaps a drum kit, the heavy bass drum is the background signature to the music conducted around it. Tape loops, multiple tape players, early modulars and of course the synthesiser in an almost stone age form.
Albums of significance for the novice;
Faust-The Faust Tapes
Harmonia-Musik Von Harmonia 1973
Can-Future Days 1973
Klaus Schulze-Timewind 1975
La Düsseldorf-La Dusseldorf 1976
Tangerine Dream-Phaedra 1974
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