From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the musical genre. For the instrumental by the band Faust, see Faust IV.

Krautrock is a broad genre of experimental rock[6] that developed in Germany in the late 1960s. The term was originated by English-speaking music journalists as a humorous name for a diverse range of German bands whose music drew from sources such as psychedelic rock, avant-garde electronic music, funk, minimalism, jazz improvisation, and world music styles. Largely divorced from the traditional blues and rock and roll influences of British and American rock music up to that time, the period contributed to the evolution of electronic music and ambient music as well as the birth of post-punk, alternative rock and new-age music.[4][7] Important acts of the scene include Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Ash Ra Tempel, and Faust.


The word krautrock was originally a humorous one coined in the early 1970s by the UK music newspaper Melody Maker, in which experimental German bands found an early and enthusiastic following, and ironically retained by its practitioners.[8] The term derives from the ethnic slur "kraut", and its use by the music press was inspired by a track from Amon Düül's Psychedelic Underground titled "Mama Düül und Ihre Sauerkrautband Spielt Auf" ('Mama Düül and her Sauerkrautband Strike Up').[9][10][11] As is often the case with musical genre labels, few of the bands wished to see themselves pigeon-holed and most tended to eschew the term.[11]

Musicologist Julian Cope, in his book Krautrocksampler, says "Krautrock is a subjective British phenomenon," based on the way the music was received in the UK rather than on the actual West German music scene out of which it grew.[9] For instance, while one of the main groups originally tagged as krautrock, Faust, recorded a seminal 12-minute track they titled "Krautrock", they would later distance themselves from the term, saying: "When the English people started talking about Krautrock, we thought they were just taking the piss... and when you hear the so-called 'Krautrock renaissance,' it makes me think everything we did was for nothing."[12]


Krautrock is an eclectic style which drew on a variety of sources. Critic Simon Reynolds described the style as merging elements of psychedelic rock, the avant-garde electronic music, funk, improvisational jazz, world music styles.[4] Some artists drew on ideas from contemporary experimental classical music (especially minimalism[13] and composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, with whom, for example, Irmin Schmidt and Holger Czukay of Can had previously studied) and from the new experimental directions that emerged in jazz during the 1960s and 1970s (mainly the free jazz pieces by Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler). Moving away from the patterns of song structure and melody of much rock music in America and Britain, some in the movement also drove the music to a more mechanical and electronic sound.[7] The key component characterizing the groups gathered under the term is the synthesis of rock and roll rhythm and energy with a decided will to distance themselves from specifically American blues origins, but to draw on German or other sources instead. Jean-Hervé Peron of Faust says: "We were trying to put aside everything we had heard in rock 'n' roll, the three-chord pattern, the lyrics. We had the urge of saying something completely different."[12]

The motorik beat[edit]

A common rhythm featured in the music was a steady 4/4 beat, often called "motorik".[14] The beat is characterised by a bass drum-heavy, pulsating groove, that created a forward-flowing feel.[14] The motorik beat was first used by Neu! on their debut album[15] and were later adopted by other krautrock bands. The motorik beat has been widely used in many different styles of music beyond krautrock.[16]

History of initial movement[edit]

West Germany[edit]

By the end of the 1960s, the American and British counterculture and hippie movement had moved rock towards psychedelia, heavy metal, progressive rock and other styles that incorporated socially and politically incisive lyrics. The 1968 German student movement, French protests and Italian student movement had created a class of young, intellectual continental listeners, while nuclear weapons, pollution, and war inspired protests and activism.[17] Avant-garde music had taken a turn towards the electronic in the mid-1950s. The avant-garde minimalist music current emerged in the early 1960s with the works of Americans La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich. They used drones and loops (often with synthesizers and tapes) in a kind of psychedelic and space-oriented music.[citation needed]

These developments certainly influenced what came to be termed krautrock, which appeared at the first major German rock festival in 1968 in Essen.[18] Like their American, British and international counterparts, German rock musicians played a kind of psychedelic music. In contrast, however, there was no attempt to reproduce the effects of drugs. Their sound was an innovative fusion of jazz and the electronic avant-garde.[4][not in citation given]

1968 also saw the foundation of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin by Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Conrad Schnitzler, which further popularized the psychedelic-rock sound in the German mainstream.[19] Originally krautrock was a form of Free art, which meant that krautrock bands gave their records away at Free Art Fairs.[citation needed]

The next few years saw a wave of pioneering groups. In 1968 two former students of Karlheinz Stockhausen formed Can, adding jazz to the mix. (In that way the krautrock scene can be seen to parallel the Canterbury scene emerging in England at the same time.) The following year saw Kluster (later Cluster) begin recording keyboard-based electronic instrumental music with an emphasis on static drones.[citation needed]

Kosmische musik[edit]

In 1970, Popol Vuh became the first krautrock group to use an electronic synthesizer. In 1971, the bands Tangerine Dream and Faust began to use electronic synthesizers and advanced production. Use of the term Kosmische musik dates from that period[20]

The bands Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Sand (Golem album) and Cosmic Jokers are all linked by collaboration with Klaus Schulze. Faust used synthesizers and tape manipulation to, in a way, foreshadow the noise rock of the future.[original research?]

In 1972, two albums incorporated European rock and electronic psychedelia with Asian sounds: Popol Vuh's In den Gärten Pharaos and Deuter's Aum. Meanwhile, kosmische musik saw the release of two double albums, Klaus Schulze's Cyborg and Tangerine Dream's Zeit (produced by Dieter Dierks), while a band called Neu! began to play highly rhythmic music. By the middle of the decade, one of the best-known German bands, Kraftwerk, had released albums like Autobahn and Radioaktivität ("Radio-Activity" in English), which anticipated 1980s British synthpop/new wave music, electro, techno and other styles which appeared later.[original research?]

The release of Tangerine Dream's Phaedra in 1974 marked a divergence of that group from krautrock to a more melodic sequencer-driven sound that was later termed Berlin School. In that same year Klaus Schulze delivered one more LP of pure krautrock, Blackdance, and then began to release a more expansive version of the kind of music that TD was making.[original research?]

From the mid-late 1970s onward the terms electronic rock, electronic music, new instrumental music and new age have been used more often than Krautrock and Kosmische Musik, although the early scene continues to be regarded as a style in and of itself.[according to whom?]

Influence on later music[edit]

Krautrock has proved to be highly influential on a succession of other musical styles and developments. Early contemporary enthusiasts outside Germany included Hawkwind and in particular Dave Brock who supposedly penned the sleeve notes for the British edition of Neu!'s first album [21] Faust's budget release The Faust Tapes has been cited as a formative teenage influence by several musicians growing up in the early 1970s such as Julian Cope (who has always cited krautrock as an influence, and wrote the book Krautrocksampler on the subject). The genre was also a strong influence to David Bowie's Station to Station (1976) and this kind of experimentation led to his 'Berlin Trilogy'.[22][23] Krautrock was also highly influential on the late-'70s development of post-punk, notably artists such as The Fall, Joy Division, Public Image Ltd, This Heat and Simple Minds, and on Galloping Coroners' shaman punk. During the 1980s, several bands involved in psychedelic rock cited Krautrock as a significant influences: these included The Legendary Pink Dots who claimed heavy inspiration from Can, Faust and Neu! in particular (one of their few cover songs was Neu!'s "Super" on the Cleopatra Records album A Homage to NEU!, which featured covers and remixes by bands including Autechre, Dead Voices On Air, Khan, System 7, James Plotkin, as well as an original track from Michael Rother).[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson 2006.
  2. ^ Manning 2004.
  3. ^ "Indie Electronic - Significant Albums, Artists and Songs - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Reynolds, Simon (July 1996). "Krautrock". Melody Maker. 
  5. ^ Hegarty & Halliwell 2011, p. 224.
  6. ^ Savage, Jon. "Elektronische musik: a guide to krautrock". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Reinholdt Nielsen, Per (2011). Rebel & Remix - Rockens historie. Denmark: Systime. ISBN 978-87-616-2662-2. 
  8. ^ 'Krautrock - Cosmic Rock and its Legacy' by David Stubbs, Erik Davis, Michel Faber and various contributing authors. Published 2009 by Black Dog Publishing Limited, London ISBN 978-1-906155-66-7
  9. ^ a b Cope, Julian (1995). Krautrocksampler: One Head's Guide to the Great Kosmische Musik - 1968 Onwards. Yatesbury: Head Heritage. p. 64. ISBN 0-9526719-1-3. 
  10. ^ Siebert, Armin (1999). Die Sprache der Pop- und Rockmusik: Eine terminologische Untersuchung im Englischen und Deutschen. Norderstedt: Grin. p. 114. ISBN 978-3-640-28233-3. 
  11. ^ a b Blühdorn, Annette (2003). Pop and Poetry - Pleasure and Protest: Udo Lindenberg, Konstantin Wecker and the Tradition of German Cabaret. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-8204-6879-2. 
  12. ^ a b Stubbs, David (January 2007). "Invisible Jukebox: Faust". The Wire (275). p. 18. 
  13. ^ Sandford, Jon (2013). Encyclopedia of Contemporary German Culture. Routledge Press. p. 353. 
  14. ^ a b "Neu! - Neu! | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  15. ^ "Top ten songs with the Motorik beat | Sick Mouthy". 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  16. ^ "The Quietus | Opinion | The Quietus Essay | How Motorik Infected The Mainstream, By Future Days Author David Stubbs". The Quietus. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  17. ^ Buckley 2003, p. 566.
  18. ^ Buckley 2003, p. 26.
  19. ^ Buckley 2003, p. 207.
  20. ^ Peel 2011, p. 193.
  21. ^ Starfarer. "Hawkwind Quotations". 
  22. ^ Buckley (2000): pp. 275–277.
  23. ^ Pegg (2004): pp. 205–206.
  24. ^ "Various - A Homage To Neu!". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 


External links[edit]