RELEASE
1971
LABEL
GENRES
Electronica, Experimental Electronic, Kraut Rock

Album Review

What might have been simply seen as an agreeable enough debut album has since become something of a notorious legend because Kraftwerk, or more accurately the core Hütter/Schneider duo at the heart of the band, simply refuses to acknowledge its existence any more. What's clearly missing from Kraftwerk is the predominance of clipped keyboard melodies that later versions of the band would make their own. Instead, Kraftwerk is an exploratory art rock album with psych roots first and foremost, with Conny Plank's brilliant co-production and engineering skills as important as the band performances. Still, Hütter and Schneider play organ and "electric percussion" -- Hütter's work on the former can especially be appreciated with the extended opening drone moan of the all-over-the-place "Stratovarius," combined with Schneider's eerie violin work. But it's a different kind of combination and exploration, with the key pop sugar (and vocal work) of later years absent in favor of sudden jump cuts of musique concrète noise and circular jamming as prone to sprawl as it is to tight focus. Having never been given an authorized CD re-release, and long since out of print on vinyl, Kraftwerk only came to wider notice again in 1993 as part of the bootleg series that also resulted in the appearance of the early Neu! albums. The connection is important, given that Neu!'s Klaus Dinger is one of the two drummers; the roots of the motorik trance and tripped-out ambient wash of the later band can clearly be heard throughout. "Ruckzuck," with its repetitive flute mantra from Schneider and the initial groove suddenly turned into a stuttering, nervous freakout, is merely one demonstration, as is the steady rise-and-fall of feedback and flute at the end of "Megaherz." As a smart reference, there's an actual picture of a "kraftwerk" -- a power station -- in the gatefold art.
Ned Raggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Ruckzuck
  2. Stratovarius
  3. Megaherz
  4. Vom Himmel Hoch