Kraftwerk – live from Croydon – September 21, 1975 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Kraftwerk tonight, in tribute to the passing of founder and guiding light Florian Schneider who left us earlier this week at age 75 from a short battle with cancer.
Kraftwerk were, admittedly, something of an anomaly when they first arrived on the scene. They were not for all tastes. I freely admit to not being sold of them at first and their initial claim to fame, Autobahn; a track which did manage to get on my nerves more than once.
All that said – and I’m being honest, they were the link in a chain that went back to the period of Karlheinz Stockhausen and were, for all intents and purposes, the next logical step.
I grew up with Stockhausen on my stereo; Hymnen was my hands-down favorite. When Tangerine Dream came along, they were the perfect link – taking the cold expanse of infinity that was a signature of Stockhausen and infusing it with a warmth which put it in a calming, spiritual direction – their music was conducive to meditation and staring off into space. Kraftwerk were the opposite – they took the cold expanse and fused it with a certain cool industrial detachment – the strictly adhered to industrial regimen that became a pattern of beats – which in turn laid the groundwork for what would become EDM.
They became hugely popular well into the 70s, 80s and 90s – lending themselves perfectly to the electronic backlash to Punk and becoming the inspiration for a number of bands during that period; OMD instantly coming to mind.
Kraftwerk started something and there is no denying it, there is no way to dismiss it and I have nothing but pure respect and admiration for that. This isn’t music you fall into randomly; most music isn’t – that’s why music making is an artform as well as a craft.
There is no question in my mind that Florian Schneider was a brilliant and talented artist and composer – perhaps I was being a snob – that’s sometimes the problem when you get exposed to a lot of things over a long period of time; you can’t help but draw comparisons, some favorably, some unfavorably. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that Kraftwerk made an impression and left a lasting one – and 99% of the people involved in EDM can thank Florian and his compatriots for putting the beat in electronica and taking everything to its next logical step.
That’s what it’s all about and will always be. For a taste of what Kraftwerk were up to in 1975 (around the period of Autobahn, which the tape sadly cuts off towards the end) when they were in concert at Croydon on September 21st of that year. Florian Schneider is gone, but his legacy and example is going to be with us for a very-very long time.