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Who are KRAFTWERK?
Many bands of the 1980’s and 1990’s attribute their success to the influence of Kraftwerk, from New Romantics and Hip-Hop to Techno. Groups such as Human League, Depeche Mode & OMD claim Kraftwerk as an inspiration and performers such as Gary Newman and David Bowie claim to be admirers.
Principal members Florian Schneider-Elsenbaum and Ralf Hütter first met while studying in Dusseldörf. In 1970 they recorded the LP “Tone Float” with the group Organisation but they disbanded and reformed as Kraftwerk with Klaus Dinger and Thomas Homann. The bands’ first 2 albums Kraftwerk1 and Kraftwerk2 featured pioneering concepts for 1971 and 1972, minimalist electronic music, innovative rhythms produced by drum machines and a robotic ambience. Following a series of well-received live performances, a breakthrough came in 1973 with the release of the duo set Ralf and Florian.
Now joined by Wolfgang Flur and Klaus Roeder, 1974’s Autobahn was an international success. The title track, 22 minutes of hi-tech computerised music, performed mainly on a Moog synthesiser, captured the monotony of a long road journey and the groups image and reputation had been set. The distinctive Kraftwerk sound was established. Around this time Roeder was replaced by Karl Bartos.
Radio Activity, a concept album based on the theme of airwave communication. Train travel was the theme of 1977’s Trans Europe Express and was followed by 1978’s The Man Machine. The single The Model from the LP was the first of many single successes, eventually topping the UK charts in 1981.
Kraftwerk seemed to vanish, the first of many absences, having reached the peak of their influence with the release of Computer World in 1981 and the single Computer Love. Electric Café in 1985 was a disappointment, fans having waited for almost 5 years. By now synthesisers and drum machines dominated Pop music and the band remained enigmatically quiet.
In 1990 Flur left and was replaced by Fritz Hilbert. Apart from The Mix in 1991 and a surprise performance at the Tribal Gathering in 1997, rumour and gossip about releases and performances has been rife. But with the release of Expo 2000 the silence has at last again been broken.