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Krautrocklocked

  • David Buckley

Extract

A mildly patronizing term coined by the British music press in the early 1970s to describe the new wave of experimental bands emanating from Germany in the late 1960s. After the critical success of Julian Cope’s book Krautrocksampler (London, 1995), the term has now lost most of its pejorative connotations and has come to describe an important musical movement. The Krautrock bands were united by the common ideology of wanting to create a uniquely German pop culture after those decades post-World War II when Anglo-American culture was pre-eminent. Much of this new music was underpinned by a violent catharsis, a sometimes unacknowledged sense of wanting to purge the past and to establish a new youth cultural formation through experimental music. The movement had disparate musical elements consisting of the metronomic melodies of Kraftwerk, the most influential German band of the time, the rhythmic experimentalism of Can, and also the work of Neu!, Ammon Düül, Cluster and Harmonia. Perhaps the most extreme band was Faust, whose music was minimalist, often based around one or two chords or riffs played at very high volume. Faust made metonymy the raison d’être of their performance. Echoing the work of the Dadaist and Futurists of the early 20th century, Faust also used various shock tactics such as using road drills to destroy concrete blocks on stage. At a time when American pop had entered its soft rock phase and British music was characterized by the technical virtuosity of the progressive rock music, the experimental Krautrock groups presaged many of the future directions of pop. Rap, hip hop, ambient, industrial and techno music are all indebted to the Krautrock movement....

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