Romantic Warriors IV: Krautrock

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Romantic Warriors IV: Krautrock (Part 1)
Directed byAdele Schmidt
José Zegarra Holder
Produced byAdele Schmidt
José Zegarra Holder
Jurriaan Hage
Jonathan Jarrett
Doug Curran
Written byAdele Schmidt
José Zegarra Holder
Starring
Music by
CinematographyAdele Schmidt
José Zegarra Holder
Edited byAdele Schmidt
Distributed byZeitgeist Media
Release date
  • April 15, 2019 (2019-04-15)
Running time
129 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
German

Romantic Warriors IV: Krautrock (Part 1) (2019) is the fourth in a series of feature-length documentaries about progressive music written and directed by Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder. Part 1 focuses on the music popularly known as Krautrock. The integration of Krautrock into the progressive rock genre is a purely American notion. In Europe, the conventional wisdom is that Krautrock can be considered at most as the connection between psychedelic rock and progressive rock.[1] Part 1 deals with bands from the Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg regions of Germany.

Part 2 will focus on bands from Munich, Wiesbaden, Ulm, and Heidelberg (including Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Embryo, Kraan, Popol Vuh, Witthüser & Westrupp). Part 3 will focus on bands from Berlin and Hamburg (including Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Günter Schickert, Agitation Free, Conrad Schnitzler, A.R. & Machines, Nektar and some contemporary bands such as Robert Rich & Markus Reuter and Coolspring).[2]

The DVD was completed with the aid of an Indiegogo campaign in 2018.[3]

Background[edit]

Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder are co-founders of Zeitgeist Media LLC, a video production company based in Washington, D.C.[4] Schmidt is an adjunct lecturer on Film and Media Arts at American University, as well as other honors.[5] She has won the 2008 Gabriel Award and the 2009 Telly Award.[6] Previous progressive rock documentary films in the series include Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga (2010), Romantic Warriors II: A Progressive Music Saga About Rock in Opposition (2012) and Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales (2015).[7]

Synopsis[edit]

Romantic Warriors IV: Krautrock (Part 1) begins with attempts to define the term "Krautrock" by members of Floh de Cologne, Electric Orange and Stephan Plank (Conny Plank's son). Next a history of the band Can is given by Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit and Malcolm Mooney. Vintage performance footage is interspersed with discussions of their albums Monster Movie and Delay 1968. After Malcolm leaves, Damo Suzuki is interviewed about Tago Mago and the band's desire to create a music not based on American rock of the period. The albums Ege Bamyasi and Future Days are discussed, then Damo left and Can recorded Soon Over Babaluma without a vocalist. Can's engineer describes Landed, their first album in a multi-track studio and how this changed their sound. Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah further added to Can's evolution. Next Damo Suzuki's Network is featured, with live footage and a discussion with Damo on how he works with different musicians wherever he tours. A portrait of Floh de Cologne follows, where they claim they were not musicians but actors pretending to be musicians. Next Kraftwerk is profiled, with Wolfgang Flür and Eberhard Kranemann interviewed. Michael Rother and Stephan Plank talk about Kraftwerk, and their albums Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express and The Man-Machine are shown and described. Krautwerk, a contemporary duo of Harald Grosskopf and Kranemann is featured next, with interviews and performance footage.

A brief return to Floh de Cologne is followed by the story of Neu!, with Rother and Plank describing their respective roles. Neu!'s three albums are described, and this leads into a profile of La Düsseldorf. Hans Lampe describes the albums and the tensions that led to an early breakup. Next the band Faust is extensively profiled, with Werner "Zappi" Diermaier and Jean-Hervé Péron interviewed at length. Their history, and the influence of their producer Uwe Nettelbeck, are detailed. Collaborations with Slapp Happy and Tony Conrad are described, along with their passing from Polydor Records to Virgin Records to Table of Elements Records. Finally performance footage and interviews with the contemporary Krautrock-influenced duet Wume is shown. A final goodbye from Floh de Cologne closes this first episode of the Krautrock trilogy.

A companion DVD, entitled Got Krautrock? Romantic Warriors IV: Special Features DVD, was released May, 2019 with additional interview footage and unused performance footage.[8]

Reception[edit]

  • Progmistress Raffaella Berry wrote: "Although the deep poignancy that pervaded Canterbury Tales also emerges in Krautrock 1, the documentary never lingers too long on feelings of loss, but celebrates the unbounded vitality of the movement and its protagonists. In many ways, as the film shows with unrelenting clarity, Krautrock ran counter to the original prog movement, being closer in nature to punk and new wave than to Yes and ELP, though equally ambitious in its outspoken goal of creating a kind of music that was uniquely German. The film works both as an introduction for those who are still unfamiliar with the movement, and as a fascinating insight into its development for those who are already invested in it. Whether it will be enough to convert any unbelievers remains to be seen. In any case, even if the music may not be everyone's cup of tea, Krautrock 1 is a must-see not only for fans of progressive music, but also for those interested in the history and culture of post-war Europe."[9]
  • siLLy puPPY at ProgArchives wrote: "The next phase of the ROMANTIC WARRIORS universe comes in 2019 with the first of a planned trilogy of releases. ROMANTIC WARRIORS IV : KRAUTROCK, PART I starts the series by focusing on Krautrock that developed in the Cologne, Düsseldorf and Hamburg regions of Germany. The focus of these films is to highlight the bands that were innovative in the progressive rock scene and for the sake of not including every band that existed, the film opted to leave out bands that were more derivative of English prog and copycats of others. PART I captures many of the musicians who are still alive from Krautrock's early years and allows them to tell their stories while capturing some archival footage. Bands included on this first edition are Can, Faust, Kraftwerk, Floh de Cologne, Neu!, La Düsseldorf, Japandorf, Krautwerk, Electric Orange, Wume and the Damo Suzuki Network. While there is never enough footage to satisfy the hardcore fans in these kinds of documentaries as i could personally watch entire documentaries for each of the bands involved, this is a very interesting journey into the greater depths of Germany's unique contribution to the progressive rock universe and no matter how much you thought you knew already about this vibrant movement that began in the 70s, ROMANTIC WARRIORS is guaranteed to reveal some of the long lost secrets that have been tucked away behind the scenes for many decades."[10]
  • Sid Smith, in Prog Magazine, wrote: There really should be a Prog award handed out to filmmakers Adele Schmidt and Jose Zegarra Holder for their incredible work in documenting progressive music's origins and development. Having already focused on the successors to the classic bands of the '70s, the RIO movement and the historical and current strands of the Canterbury scene, their affectionate gaze has now turned to Germany's heroes. Detailing the anarchic collision between the avant-garde impulses of the art scene, agit-prop theatre and a defiant pushback away from US dominance in pop and rock culture, the distinctive world they created is explored via a series of fascinating, insightful interviews with several sonic pioneers including Michael Rother, Irmin Schmidt, Faust's Jean-Hervé Péron and Kraftwerk's Wolfgang Flür. Allowing them and several others the space to relate first-hand experiences, simply and directly without any of the jarring editorial leaps that so often mar the rockumentary format, gives this history an authoritative feel. Sympathetically interspersed with rare footage and, where applicable, some superb contemporary performances, this two-hour installment of the Romantic Warriors series eschews gratuitous nostalgia while bearing witness to an innovative movement."[11]
  • Lee Henderson, in bigbeautifulnoise, wrote: "The fourth film project in the Romantic Warriors progressive music saga series by Adele Schmidt and Jose Zegarra Holder, appears to be the most expansive and info packed subject yet (the results of Part II & III will confirm that). I cannot help but think that with Germany being Schmidt's birthplace, her connections and ability to dig into the background and realization of this all important subject, is why the project has turned out so superior. No book or previous film on the topic comes close to the broad and insightful minutes of the KRAUTROCK Part I."[12]
  • Rivertree (Uwe Zickel), at Progarchives.com, wrote: "Well, just ask one hundred music experts, and you will get one hundred very different explanations when it comes to the complete phenomenon Krautrock, respectively which band will fit this odd genre music-wise. Fortunately Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder avoid the mistake to delve into another new comprehensive essay. And this will also include the following two parts, I'm quite sure. However, what they necessarily have is a concept, of course. They are selective somehow, and that's good...'Krautrock Part 1' is a skillful effort, provided in two languages and the option to turn on subtitles in English, French and Italian. Chapeau! The Zeitgeist Media team have successfully started their mission, I would say. This documentation is a recommended add-on to your collection, a must have for Krautrock fans so much the more."[13]
  • Jon David, at Exposé Online, wrote: "The defining quality of Krautrock, as stated near the beginning of this film, is that it was made by musicians in Germany who wanted to create music that was not derivative of the popular rock coming out of England and the United States. Part 1 starts us off in Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg, diving into the histories of Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Floh de Cologne, and Faust along with their variations and offshoots. Many of the surviving members of the bands are interviewed, including Irmin Schmidt and Jaki Liebezeit from Can, along with both Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki. The filmmakers caught up with Suzuki in Peru, where we see him with his Network project, in which he works with different musicians in the cities he visits. The inclusion of Mooney in particular is a treat, since his post-Can work has been infrequent and not very high-profile. The final major section of the film moves to Faust, with appearances by Zappi Diermaier and Jean-Hervé Péron. They talk about their adventures with record labels, some of the editing and remixing techniques they devised, and how the spirit of the band continues with the faUSt tours in the US. In all, it’s a great peek into an incredibly fertile scene that is still relevant today, and was arguably more innovative than most of what is now labeled “progressive rock.” The filmmakers have come along at the right time to gather footage while some of the musicians are still with us. I’m definitely looking forward to the next two parts!"[14]
  • Peter Thelen, at Exposé Online, wrote: "The film begins with a lengthy section on the group Can, and features interview clips and some excellent footage and stills of the band in their earliest days with all the original band members including singer Malcolm Mooney, who together with Irmin Schmidt shed plenty of light on the band’s formation and earliest days. Mooney’s departure is covered as well as the recruitment of new singer Damo Suzuki, and follows the band through their classic period (Tago Mago through the mid-70s) as well as the later 70s when ex-Traffic guys Rosko Gee and the late Reebop Kwaku Baah joined the lineup, through the band’s eventual dissolution; an additional segment focusing on Damo Suzuki’s Network finishes that first lengthy but very worthwhile segment. Another section focuses on the origins of Kraftwerk, from the forerunner band Spirit of Sound, the split of the original Kraftwerk between the first and second LPs, and subsequent successes with albums like Autobahn and Radio Activity, most taken from an excellent interview with Wolfgang Flür, who explains why, as their music became more and more programmed, he felt he had no purpose within the group, and split follwing The Man Machine. A third major section focuses on the band Faust, including interviews and footage with the original band, explaining the chance that major label Polydor took signing them for two albums, and then Virgin signing them for the next two albums, as well as how their collaboration with Tony Conrad for Outside the Dream Syndicate came about, a very interesting story. This is a long film, about two hours and ten minutes total, so have a good supply of popcorn ready, you are bound to see many clips and interviews that have never been seen before!"[15]
  • Neu!mann, at ProgArchives, wrote: "Even among adventurous Progheads (a majority, one hopes), the subversive variations of Krautrock can be an acquired taste. The word describes an attitude more than a set of stylistic conventions, and the range of music is simply too broad to fit our usual pigeonholes, crossing the boundaries of post-rock, space-rock, jazz, ambient electronica, ethnographic raga, industrial noise, and other territories too remote or frightening to identify by name. And there's a vital historical context to consider also, deeply rooted in the anger of a restless post-war generation of kids unable to abide the crimes of their parents, or the cultural hegemony of their Anglo-American occupiers after 1945. In short: it's a genre of music that requires an explanation rather than a simple definition, and to their credit the co-directors of the ongoing "Romantic Warriors" film cycle avoid doing either. The film is over two-hours long, and still only manages to barely penetrate the surface of a very deep ocean, skipping like a flat stone over still water: from Cologne to Düsseldorf to Hamburg. But fear not: their examination of Krautrock needed a wider net, and this is only the first chapter of a proposed three-part saga, with future installments continuing the journey of remembrance through Munich, Wiesbaden, Berlin and beyond. Fans of the many featured bands will eat it up, of course. But even newcomers lacking a palate for Krautrock's enduring power and deep musical legacy should appreciate the aim behind the project: to preserve, before it's too late, the personal testimony of influential artists who never received the historical recognition they deserved."[16]

Romantic Warriors series[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]