Kraftwerk (album)

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Kraftwerk
Studio album by Kraftwerk
Released November 1970
Recorded July–September 1970
Genre Krautrock, art rock, musique concrete, Instrumental rock
Length 39:39
Label Philips 6305 058
(out of print)
Producer Conny Plank
Ralf Hütter
Florian Schneider
Kraftwerk chronology
Kraftwerk
(1970)
Kraftwerk 2
(1972)
Klaus Dinger chronology
Kraftwerk
(1970)
Neu!
(1972)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

Kraftwerk is the first album by German electronic band Kraftwerk. It was released in Germany in 1970, and produced by Konrad "Conny" Plank.

Background[edit]

Chief Kraftwerk members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider used two drummers during the recording of the album; Andreas Hohmann and Klaus Dinger. Their playing provides the music with a rock edge. This proves to be quite distinct from Hütter and Schneider's previous band Organisation, or the following pair of Kraftwerk albums, Kraftwerk 2 and Ralf und Florian which were both recorded entirely as a duo by Hütter and Schneider. According to later interviews with Dinger, he plays on side two ("Vom Himmel hoch"), while Hohmann plays on side one ("Ruckzuck", "Stratovarius"), which was completed before Dinger joined the sessions.

The other instrumentation features Hütter on Hammond organ and a modified electric organ called a tubon (made by Swedish factory Joh Mustad AB), whilst Schneider supplied manipulated flute. The song "Ruckzuck" is driven by a powerful multi-dubbed flute riff, along with electric violin and guitar; these instruments often connected to further electronics via an Electronic Music Studios pitch-to-voltage converter.

The album tracks are all instrumentals, of which, "Ruckzuck" and "Stratovarius" are closest to a rock music approach in style. "Ruckzuck" has a tightly arranged opening section that includes a dramatic change of tempo, before an extended and largely percussive middle section, with an even faster reprise of the opening theme to end the piece. Following an extended drone opening played on keyboards, "Stratovarius" develops a scary organ intro as a looser succession of mainly guitar and drum based jams that build and break down. "Megaherz", a duet played by Hütter and Schneider, begins as a deep, rippling bass tone that steadily expands with electronic treatments to a discordant climax. Following this, there is a meditative middle section played with flute and keyboards, after which the piece closes with a series of wave-like crescendos of increasing intensity. "Vom Himmel hoch" begins with distant-sounding drones that develop into Doppler effect sweeps as the keyboards begin to mimic the sound of falling bombs. Eventually, a very coarse rock groove emerges (triggered by the first beats of Dinger's drums), that quickens in tempo and, after a brief sonic interruption, reaches an explosive finale.

The cover design, credited to Ralf Hütter, is a curious nod to the influence of Andy Warhol and the then contemporary pop art movement, featuring a fluorescent-coloured traffic cone drawn in a Warhol-esque manner. The image on the inside of the gatefold sleeve is of a powerplant electricity substation (appropriately, as 'kraftwerk' means "power station" in German), photographed by Düsseldorf conceptualist artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, known for their photographic Typologies [2] series that celebrated the industrial and urban environment – and by extension, the society that built it – by showing multiple variations of ordinarily mundane building types. The smaller photos of the musicians were taken at the Essen "Grugahalle" Pop & Blues Festival on May 2, 1970 when Hütter & Schneider-Esleben were performing in proto-Kraftwerk band Organisation.

Performances and release[edit]

A colour video recording from WDR exists of a concert performance of "Ruckzuck" by Hütter and Schneider's previous band, Organisation, as well as another black and white recording of it being played by the Hütter/Schneider/Dinger line-up of Kraftwerk.

Guitarist Michael Rother joined the band after this album, and remarkably, around the same time Hütter actually left the band for a few months in 1971. The 3-piece Kraftwerk line up of Schneider, Dinger and Rother made an appearance on Radio Bremen and also on the TV show Beat-Club. After this, Dinger and Rother left to form revered band Neu!, with Hütter rejoining Schneider to continue Kraftwerk, both parties recording under the mentoring of Conny Plank.

No material from this album has been performed in the band's live set since the Autobahn tour of 1975, and to date, the album has not been officially reissued on compact disc. The band are seemingly reluctant to consider it a part of their canon – Schneider in later interviews referred to the first three Kraftwerk albums as "archaeology". However, pirated CD and vinyl pressings of the album have been widely available since the mid-1990s on the Germanofon and Crown labels. Nonetheless, Kraftwerk has hinted that the album may finally see a re-mastered CD release after their Der Katalog box set.[3]

"Ruckzuck" was used as the theme song for the defunct PBS show Newton's Apple in the United States. It was used without permission. Later episodes of the show feature an unknown cover version of the song.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Ruckzuck" – 7:47
  2. "Stratovarius" – 12:10
Side two
  1. "Megaherz" – 9:30
  2. "Vom Himmel hoch" – 10:12

Credits[edit]

[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raggett, Ned (2011). "Kraftwerk 1 - Kraftwerk | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Becher, Bernd. "Bernd and Hilla Becher: ''Typologies''". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  3. ^ Dante de Conti & Marcelo Duarte (2011-01-28). "DATA - INTERVIEWS - DUMMY MAGAZINE - RALF HUTTER - SPRING 2006 - 2011-AUG-21 ::::". Kraftwerk.Technopop.Com.Br. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  4. ^ Kraftwerk (LP). Kraftwerk. Germany: Philips. 1972. 6305 058.