- Sean Albiez
Electronic popular music group. It formed in Düsseldorf, (West) Germany in 1970. Ralf Hütter (b Krefeld, Germany, 20 Aug 1946) and Florian Schneider-Esleben (b Düsseldorf, Germany, 7 April 1947) were the band’s core until Schneider-Esleben’s departure in 2008, though there have been many musical and technical collaborators. They emerged from the experimental West German rock scene that fused psychedelic rock, free jazz, and academic electronic music. Early albums used sound processed oscillators, tape recordings, flute, violin, keyboards, electric guitar, and acoustic and electronic drums. Synthesizers and vocoders were later added to the mix. Kraftwerk initially achieved only moderate success at home and abroad. However, Autobahn (1974) proved an unexpected commercial breakthrough. A 3:27 version of the 22:43 title track “Autobahn” reached no.25 on the Billboard Singles chart in 1975, and similar success followed elsewhere.
The success of “Autobahn” convinced Kraftwerk to pursue a fully electronic sound in the context of multi-lingual, idiosyncratic songs and trance-like instrumentals. They pioneered the use of synthesizers, drum machines, sequencers, vocoders, and speech synthesis, and released three albums, ...