Friday, 18 January 2013

Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution

There is a spirit in of a lot of post war popular music that seems to be exploratory, experimental and, dare one say it, progressive. This desire to push at the boundaries and overturn what had gone before can be seen in in post war jazz, Bebop, 1960s rock music, the music of the Beatles, Byrds, Pink Floyd and many others.

However by the end of the 70s, Jazz saw its audience dwindle (perhaps due to being exposed to a little too much free jazz experimentation) and British and US rock music seemed have become ever more corporate, business oriented, predictable and safe.

At the end of 1960s this experimental baton was picked up by a wave of German bands  intent on creating new sounds and exploring new  technologies. Kraftwerk, Can, Amon Duul, Tangerine Dream, Popul Vuh - all seemed to be bands that were determined to create something new without falling into the blues jam / prog-rock noodling that had befallen many of their British and American contermpories. Why did this happen in Germany?

"Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution" is a three hour documentary that explores the history of those German bands. It particularly focuses the group whose music achieved the most crossover success and  influenced so much of modern electronica - Kraftwerk.

Most of the main participants are interviewed although only Karl Bartos appears from Kraftwerk. As he says, a bunch of musicians "not raised on the Mississippi delta" had little choice but to take rock music in a new direction if they wanted to maintain any kind of integrity.

This documentary can be watched in parts on Youtube. Here is part 1.

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