Karl Bartos

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Karl Bartos
Karl Bartos in 1976. Photograph by Ueli Frey.
Karl Bartos in 1976. Photograph by Ueli Frey.
Background information
Birth nameKarlheinz Bartos[1]
Born (1952-05-31) 31 May 1952 (age 71)
Marktschellenberg, West Germany[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, Professor[2]
Instrument(s)Percussion, synthesizer, vocals
Years active1965–present[1]
Columbia/SME Records
Atlantic Records

Karl Bartos (born 31 May 1952)[4] is a German musician and composer known for his contributions to the electronic band Kraftwerk.


Karlheinz Bartos was born on 31 May 1952 in Marktschellenberg, Germany, named after his grandfathers Karl and Heinz.[1] He was the drummer in a college band called The Jokers (later The Jolly Jokers in 1975) as Carlos Bartos, around 1965 to 1975.[5] Between 1975 and 1990, he was, along with Wolfgang Flür, a member of the electronic music band Kraftwerk.[6] This lineup of the group remains the most stable and productive yet assembled. He was originally recruited to play on Kraftwerk's US "Autobahn" tour where he changed his name to "Karl", as the band member's names were displayed on stage in neon lighting; "Karlheinz" was deemed too long and thus too expensive by Kraftwerk's front man Ralf Hütter.[1] In addition to his percussion and keyboards playing, Bartos was credited with songwriting on the Man-Machine, Computer World, and Electric Café albums and sang one lead vocal on the latter, contributing with some of the band's most popular riffs, such as Das Modell, Computerliebe, Computerwelt and other ones.

Bartos left Kraftwerk in August 1990,[7] reportedly frustrated at the band's slow progress in their activities due to the increasingly perfectionist attitude of founding members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Karl Bartos hinted at this fact in the interview entitled "I was a Robot", which is a part of the documentary film "Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution".[8]

In 1992 Bartos founded Elektric Music. This new project released the Kraftwerk-style Esperanto in 1993, and then the more guitar-based Electric Music in 1998. In between the two albums, Bartos collaborated with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr on Electronic's 1996 album Raise the Pressure, and co-wrote material with Andy McCluskey of OMD, which appeared on both Esperanto and OMD's Universal album. In 1998, he also produced an album by Swedish synth-pop band the Mobile Homes, much in the style of his work with Electronic: guitar-pop with very slight synthetic references. It was received as a great disappointment to synth-pop fans, but it sold more than any of their previous albums and was used in an advert for an airline.

In 1992 Elektric Music were asked to remix Afrika Bambaataa's song "Planet Rock" for release on a remix album.[9] Planet Rock was the subject of an out-of-court settlement between Kraftwerk and Tommy Boy Records head Tom Silverman, as it uses significant parts from both Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" and "Numbers".

Karl Bartos live in 2005

In 2003, using his own name, he released the synth-pop album Communication, featuring such songs as "I'm the Message," "Camera," and "Ultraviolet."

In 2007 his music provided the soundtrack to the documentary Moebius Redux – A Life in Pictures, about the graphic artist Jean Giraud.[10]

Karl Bartos announced[11] in early 2008 that he had opened the first edition of the audio-visual exhibition Crosstalk for public viewing at the white cube section on the official Karl Bartos website. The program holds 21 films, remixes, cover versions, and mash-ups from Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, the USA, and Japan.

In March 2011, Karl Bartos released Mini-Composer, an iPhone app. It's a simple 16 steps sequencer with 4 basic waves synthesizer. It has been designed with Japanese artist Masayuki Akamatsu and the executive producer is Jean-Marc Lederman.

On 15 March 2013 he released his next studio album, Off the Record, preceded by "Atomium" the first single taken from it. The 7" version, released worldwide on 1 February 2013, was limited to 1,000 copies.

In September 2020, the official Karl Bartos email newsletter announced that Karl is currently working on a new project and intends to present this work live once the COVID-19 pandemic slows down.

On 12 May 2021, Kraftwerk was announced as one of the inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bartos being one of the inductees along with Schneider, Hütter and Flür.[12]

For a tour starting on 17 February 2024 in Frankfurt/Main, he and sound designer Mathias Black created a new electro-acoustic soundtrack for Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari to be performed live, based on the version restored by the F. W. Murnau Foundation.[13]


With Kraftwerk

With Elektric Music (now Electric Music)

With Electronic

As Karl Bartos


  • 2000: "15 Minutes of Fame"
  • 2003: "I'm The Message"
  • 2004: "Camera Obscura"
  • 2013: "Atomium"
  • 2016: "Life"
  • 2016: "I'm The Message (Matthew Herbert's Doctor Rockit Mix)"
  • 2016: "15 Minutes of Fame"


  • 1994: 2nd proposed Elektric Music album (Most of the songs were performed at Elektric Music's Virtual Summer Tour in 1994).[14]
  • 2007: Moebius Redux – Ein Leben in Bildern / Une vie en images / A Life in Pictures (original soundtrack)


See also[edit]

Influenced drummers or rhythm composers[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bartos, Karl (14 July 2022). The Sound of the Machine. My life in Kraftwerk and beyond. ISBN 9781913172640.
  2. ^ "Immer weltberühmt macht auch nicht glücklich - Berlin-Kultur - Berliner Morgenpost" (in German). Berliner Morgenpost. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  3. ^ "The Quietus _ Features _ A Quietus Interview _ Remake_Remodel Karl Bartos Interviewed". Matthew Lindsay. 4 March 2013. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2017., "Dortmunder Philharmoniker Karl-Josef Kels, Solo-Pauke". Dortmunder Philharmoniker. 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  4. ^ Pascal Bussy; Mick Fish (1993). Man, machine and music. SAF. ISBN 978-0-946719-09-9.
  5. ^ "Germankraft.de Kraftwerk Chronik Interviews mit anderen Musikern der Düsseldorfer und Krefelder Musik-Szene Franz Josef Krähahn (The Jokers)" (in German). Marko Schmidt. December 2003. Archived from the original on 12 August 2004. Retrieved 11 May 2017., "FJ Krähahn (The Jokers)" (in German). Franz Josef Krähahn. 2001. Archived from the original on 22 April 2001. Retrieved 31 May 2017., "Jolly Jokers Fotos" (in German). Franz Josef Krähahn. 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  6. ^ "KARL BARTOS – Curriculum vitae Karl Bartos". Karl Bartos. 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  7. ^ Video on YouTube
  8. ^ "Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution - DVD Documentary - Audio-biog - Interview - Music". Rob Johnstone, Chrome Dreams Media Ltd. 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2017., "myReviewer.com - About the DVD - Kraftwerk And The Electronic Revolution". Reviewer Ltd, London. 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2017., "Kraftwerk and the electronic revolution [videorecording] (Originally released in 2004) in SearchWorks". Stanford University Libraries, California. 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force* - Don't Stop... Planet Rock / The Remix EP". Discogs.com. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  10. ^ Title sequence for Moebius Redux featuring music by Karl Bartos on YouTube
  11. ^ "Karl Bartos (ex-Kraftwerk) opens audio-visual exhibition 'Crosstalk'". Side-line.com. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  12. ^ Seah, Daniel (17 May 2021). "Kraftwerk to finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2021". MusicTech. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  13. ^ Andrian Kreye, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung vom 18./19.11.2023, S. 18.
  14. ^ "Aktivitaet Online – Activities – 1994". Archived from the original on 18 January 2003.
  15. ^ Buckley, David; Bartos, Karl (16 August 2012). Kraftwerk: Publikation (1st ed.). London, UK: Omnibus Press. p. preface. ISBN 978-1847729316. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2017. Buckley, David; Bartos, Karl (13 July 2015). Kraftwerk: Publikation (2nd ed.). London, UK: Omnibus Press. p. preface. ISBN 978-1468312225. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  16. ^ ""You Can't Talk About Music," An Interview with Kraftwerk's Karl Bartos _ Thump". Robert Barry. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016., Bartos, Karl (25 August 2017). Der Klang der Maschine Autobiografie (in German). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Eichborn Verlag. ISBN 978-3847906179. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  17. ^ "The Sound of the Machine - Published on 21st July 2022". omnibuspress.com. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Exclusive interview with Karl Bartos - New Order Online - A New Order _ Joy Division Web Site". Chris Nash, NewOrderOnline.com. 6 September 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2017.

External links[edit]