Kraftwerk is a German Electronic pop band originating from Dusseldorf, Germany in the early 1970s. Due to electronic music not being popular at the time Kraftwerk are seem as heralds for what electronic music is today. They used a sound that was simple on the surface so that anyone could easily listen but was very complex in how the sound was made from song to song. The instruments they used were considered unusual for the time such as drum machines, synths, industrial sounds and speech software. They also used a lot of repetition in their songs. Whenever they performed they would wear suits and ties which at the time was a bold statement directly countering the look of popular rock bands of the time.
Between 1974 and 1981 Kraftwerk released 5 albums, Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, The Man-Machine, and Computer World. These are easily considered the bands most influential albums that defined who the band was soon to become. Autobahn was a beach boys inspired conceptual album which people were getting bored of at the time. The theme of the album was road travel, due to the popularity of this album kraftwerk decided to reuse the idea of conceptual albums again with Radio-Activity. Radio-Activity was an album based around nuclear energy and the radio. Radio-Activity was self-produced completely in house with kraftwerk and suffered terribly in sales because of this. Trans-Europ Express was themed around theTrans-Europe Express train that went across europe. This album showcased bilingual lyrics, mostly in german and english. With the man machine in 1978 kraftwerks music began to become more robotic, as such this album didn’t do well either. In 1981 They released Computer World where they used new instrument technology that also allowed them to perform even better live allowing them to improvise on stage.
Kraftwerk is considered the most influential band on electronic music not because they are the best but because at the time they were new and unique, allowing electronic music to advance because of kraftwerk. They used newer kind of instruments like the minimoog, Synths, drum machines and vocoders. They were able to bring back conceptual albums which were dying at the time and they were one of the band to influence brian eno and david bowie enough to go to germany which caused a chain reaction of influence across multiple genres.
As a listener I find Kraftwerks music very easy to listen to and as an industry professional I can appreciate how innovative they were for the time.I really like how many sounds they were able to get out of the technology of the time and were able to get it to sound good. I can definitely respect Kraftwerk’s music for what it was both then and now.