Friday, 5 February 2010

The Catalogue by Kraftwerk: part I

I’m going to put the song on top, so you can play it right away, you’ll realise why after about 22 minutes.

Kraftwerk - Autobahn [right click to download]

Last Christmas i got a very cool present, The Catalogue by Kraftwerk. A boxed set comprising eight studio albums from 1974 to 2003, all digitally remastered with exclusive coverarts and rare photographs to top it off.

The sound needed remastering…it’s like a reconstruction, like when a painter takes his paintings from the archives and blows the dust off and puts them in a retrospective. It was quite time-consuming work, but I think once you see it you will immediately understand.
-Ralf Hütter

For all of you who spent the last 30-40 years in a cave (no hard feelings mister Osama):

Kraftwerk (german for “power plant”) is THE most influential electronic music band in the history of man. It’s a quartet from Düsseldorf with a signature sound combining repetitive rhytms with catchy melodies and very simple vocals. It was probably the first group to make electronic music popular and they had a lasting effect in most genres of music today.

Forming the band:
Kraftwerk was formed in 1970 by Florian Schneider and Ralph Hutter, two musicians who met as students participating in the experimental “Krautrock” scene (this nickname was courtesy of the English press, that figures). After that they worked with some other musicians to get out some albums and live performances.

But everything really started to get moving with the release of Autobahn in 1974. They moved away from the style of their early albums and invested in some new equipment, redisigning their studio once Autobahn became a commercial succes. They didn’t have to rely on producers since that glorious event (later giving birth to Kling Klang studios). In 1975 the Kraftwerk quartet was completed when Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos joined the group for their tour.

Autobahn is the 4th studio album by Kraftwerk (good news everyone, the first three albums might be getting a similar threatment as the Catalogue). It is not a completely electronic album, mixing violin, flute, guitar and synths with a Minimoog and some various devices of their own (like the electronic drums seen in viseoclips).

The title track gives the feeling of driving with your friends through the landscape on a long monotony trip. It was made to describe driving on the A555, the first Autobahn ever (without any interceptions). I’ve posted the original 22 minute long version, but they did release a 3 minute version that got pretty high up in the charts. Interesting fact: The lyrics of the song are Fahren, Fahren, Fahren on die autobahn and not Fun Fun Fun (a mistake that is often made by non German people).

Kometenmelodie 1 and 2:
Number one sounds very dark and creepy, not a very good listen, but boy oh boy the second version is one of my all time feel good tunes. Fully instrumental with some effects that actually sound like falling stars on a dark night. Hard to axplain, but it sure is fun and catchy.

Kraftwerk - Kometenmelodie 2 [right click to download]

Mitternacht and Morgenspaziergang:
Mitternacht is another very omnious song that doesn’t really get me. But you gotta love the intro on Morgenspaziergang (“taking a stroll in the morning”), starting off with some electronic bird singing and a flute. I think this song explains how Kraftwerk managed to mix classical music with the influances of the new electronic era.

Something more about the album art:
The original rear cover of the LP showed Hütter, Schneider, Röder an Emil Schult sitting in the back of a car. But when it seemed Flür was going to join the group they just put his head over Schult’s (the early shooping, I can tell by the pixels).

Hope you enjoyed this little trip and be sure to tune in next time with another album by Kraftwerk. Mr. Brown


Boba Fettuccini said...

They didn't have 'shopping' back then, so it's not the pixels that would be a givaway. They didn't have digital image manipulation and pixels in the 70's ;)

Anonymous said...

I never knew the second song was by Kraftwerk. It's used in the end of the kung fu movie "Master of the Flying Guillotine", I always just thought it was made for that movie.

messer hani said...

it's "wir fahr'n fahr'n farh'n AUF DER autobahn", not "on die" :)