Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk 1 .1970 Electronic , Krautrock, Experimental
Kraftwerk is the first album by German electronic band Kraftwerk. It was released in Germany in 1970, and produced by Konrad “Conny” Plank.
Chief Kraftwerk members Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider used two drummers during the recording of the album; Andreas Hohmann and Klaus Dinger. Their playing provides the music with a rock edge. This proves to be quite distinct from Hutter and Schneider’s previous band Organisation, or the following pair of Kraftwerk albums, Kraftwerk 2 and Ralf und Florian which were both recorded entirely as a duo by Hutter and Schneider. According to later interviews with Dinger, he plays on side two (“Vom Himmel hoch”), while Hohmann plays on side one (“Ruckzuck”, “Stratovarius”), which was completed before Dinger joined the sessions.
The other instrumentation features Hutter on Hammond organ and a modified electric organ called a tubon (made by Swedish factory Joh Mustad AB), whilst Schneider supplied manipulated flute. The song “Ruckzuck” is driven by a powerful multi-dubbed flute riff, along with electric violin and guitar; these instruments often connected to further electronics via an Electronic Music Studios pitch-to-voltage converter.
The album tracks are all instrumentals, of which, “Ruckzuck” and “Stratovarius” are closest to a rock music approach in style. “Ruckzuck” has a tightly arranged opening section that includes a dramatic change of tempo, before an extended and largely percussive middle section, with an even faster reprise of the opening theme to end the piece. Following an extended drone opening played on keyboards, “Stratovarius” develops a scary organ intro as a looser succession of mainly guitar and drum based jams that build and break down. “Megaherz”, a duet played by Hutter and Schneider, begins as a deep, rippling bass tone that steadily expands with electronic treatments to a discordant climax. Following this, there is a meditative middle section played with flute and keyboards, after which the piece closes with a series of wave-like crescendos of increasing intensity. “Vom Himmel hoch” begins with distant-sounding drones that develop into Doppler effect sweeps as the keyboards begin to mimic the sound of falling bombs. Eventually, a very coarse rock groove emerges (triggered by the first beats of Dinger’s drums), that quickens in tempo and, after a brief sonic interruption, reaches an explosive finale.
The cover design, credited to Ralf Hutter, is a curious nod to the influence of Andy Warhol and the then contemporary pop art movement, featuring a fluorescent-coloured traffic cone drawn in a Warhol-esque manner. The word ‘Kraftwerk’ means power station or plant and machinery – hence the use of the sign on the cover to convey the idea of roadworks due to plant and machinery/men at work.
A1 Ruckzuck 7:47
A2 Stratovarius 12:10
B1 Megaherz 9:30
B2 Vom Himmel Hoch 10:12
Composed By – Florian Schneider-Esleben*, Ralf Hutter
Cover – Ralf Hutter
Drums – Andreas Hohmann (tracks: A1, A2), Klaus Dinger (tracks: B2)
Engineer [Assistant] – Klaus Lohmer
Flute, Violin, Percussion [Electric] – Florian Schneider-Esleben*
Organ, Synthesizer [Tubon] – Ralf Hutter
Photography By – Bernhard + Hilla Becher*
Producer – Kraftwerk
Producer, Engineer – Conrad Plank*