Kraftwerk: Future Music from Germany by Uwe Schütte: Book Review.

Kraftwerk: Future Music from Germany: Schütte, Uwe ...

Geek alert!

Do not read this book unless you are; in descending order of relevance:

A lifelong Kraftwerk fan (like me).

A serious Krautrock aficionado (like me).

An electronica fanboy (like me).

A general music enthusiast with a taste for the obscure (like me).

A music geek (like me).

A techno/hip hop/detroit house fan looking into that genre’s roots.

(Or all of the above.)

It’s a love affair with Kraftwerk by a true beleiver and a forensic researcher who has thoroughly investigated all of Kraftwerk’s music in chronological order with neat insights into the inspiration for each record (and tour) and the influence they had.

But more than that, it’s a psychological analysis of the minds of Florian Schneider (RIP) and Ralf Hütter – the main creative driving forces of the band from the late 60’s until now.

It argues very strongly that Kraftwerk are by no means simply a pop (or even music) group, they are an art form that started in industrialle Volksmusik before creating their own zeitgeist or Gesamtkunsterwerk.

In places it’s heavy on the cod philosophy and would be a mighty slog were it not for the 14 point type that makes pages easily consumable.

It’s light on humour, indeed it’s light on most stuff other than information and philosophy, and a heavy dose of ‘Man Machine’ talk but I, for one, found it a right riveting read.

Glory glory to the Krafties.

Simply the best gigs I’ve ever been privileged to attend


My pal Pete, and I, were discussing our all time favourite gigs after we gushed about Anohni on Wednesday night at the Edinburgh Festival.

He’s a massive James and Rolling Stones fan and said it even beat James.  I was more cautious.  Whilst I gave it a full five star rating and said it was in my all time top ten it’s had me thinking all week.

So with much consideration here are my all time top 20 favourite gigs.  Each in different ways was a five star performance.

In no particular order, because that’s too hard.

The Clash.  Edinburgh Playhouse. (Combat Rock tour)

Sufjan Stevens. Edinburgh Playhouse. (Carrie and Low tour Edinburgh International Festival – simply the best sound I have ever heard)

Anonhi. Edinburgh Playhouse. (Edinburgh Festival, this week)

Siouxsie and The Banshees. Edinburgh Playhouse. (around the time of Israel)

Kraftwerk. Edinburgh PLayhouse (front Row.  Computer Love Tour)

Kraftwerk.  King Tuts Stage (T in the Park – 3D tour)

Bill Nelson. The Nite Club (Upstairs from Edinburgh Playhouse)

Faust.  The Citrus Club (original one in Edinburgh Grassmarket (set fire to the stage with Petrol)

Simple Minds (supported by Positive Noise).  Tiffany’s, Glasgow.

Simple Minds.  Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow.( 5 x 4 Tour)

Chic. West Holts Dance Stage (Glastonbury)

Massive Attack. The Other Stage (Glastonbury)

Nic Cave and the Bad Seeds. The Pyramid Stage (Glastonbury)

John Grant. The Park Stage (Glastonbury)

Savages.  Williams Green Stage (Glastonbury)

Melody Gardot.  Voodoo Rooms

Emma Pollock. Voodoo Rooms

Laurie Anderson.  Queens Hall (possibly the O Superman tour, certainly around that time)

King Creosote performing From Scotland with Love at  The Hub Edinburgh (Edinburgh Festival)

Frank Sinatra.  Ibrox Park (Glasgow 1999 headline spot).  I’ll never forget him say that “I never thought I’d hear every single member of an Ibrox crowd cheer a Catholic”

One major point to note.  Only one single stadium gig.  The last one.

Some of the greatest were in the smallest venues; Pollock, Gardot, Bill Nelson, Faust.

Who did I never see that I wished I had?  Magazine, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Steely Dan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Belle and Sebastian, Cocteau Twins, Can, Velvet Underground.


I can’t sleep…

Phoenix and Kraftwerk.

Four Frenchmen.  Four Germans.


The three or four best hours of my music viewing life.



My son and I have had some decent chat about what is better;  Glasto or T.

Neither of us was better informed, (apart from him).

Because only he had done both.

Now we are equals.

He has a point about T.

It is an amazing experience.  The crowd absolutely rocks, much more so than Glasto, full, as it is, with hipsters.  I totally loved the gig experience at T.

Still, I do not have the bottle to sleep over.

But that’s only part of it.

Glasto is the most amazing overall thing you can ever do in your life.

Please do it.

The Computer Love Tour in 1981

This was the tour I was referring to me in my previous post.

I don’t think I can begin to get across how exciting this was.  Seeing Kraftwerk.  Even then they were well beyond legendary status.

It literally blew my mind.

There’s a song on that album called pocket calculator and they played the song live ON POCKET CALCULATORS.

Not so unthinkable now but it was 30 years ago.

Anyway the biggest thrill of all for me was when the passed these pocket calculators out into the front row f the audience and I got to play one for bout 1 second.

In fact…

This is it…

It’s all gone quiet at our place.

Jeana sleeping.  Tom and Amy at work.  Family not arrived yet.  Has given me a chance to check out some tunes.  Fell upon this old video of Das Model by Kraftwerk and was taken by exactly how creepy Ralf, Florien et al look.  Was this a “look”,  a “technique” or just how they were?

They don’t look real but it’s too early for a CGI pisstake of themselves.


The audience is absurd by the way, you couldn’t begin to imagine in 1980 that this audience would be the one seeing the future of danvce music being played out in front of their very eyes.

I saw them live not long after, front row of the Edinburgh Playhouse for the Computer love tour.

Still one of the greatest ever musical experiences.

Drive. Ultra violence with exquisite style.

I’ve managed to miss every single one of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous movies (Bronson being perhaps the best known) and typically his scores are mediocre on IMDB, which suggests his perchance for violence (he cites Texas Chainsaw Massacre as an influence) has divided his audiences to date.

Not so in this one.

At the time of writing Drive is recording a whopping 8.4 on the movie bible score meter.

And with justice.

Refn now sports a Cannes Best Director gong on his mantlepiece and it feels justified because this movie has been crafted to within an inch of its life.  This is a real director’s labour of love; from The Michael Mannesque, super saturated, ultra crisp LA at night cinematography to the uber mannered acting, fantastic casting, sparse as Ebeneezer Scrooge’s pantry script (he wrote it) and ASTONISHING soundtrack (surely the Oscar winner already).

It’s languid, propped up by very little dialogue but driven by the aforementioned score that oozes class, from the opening and closing songs to the underscore by Cliff Martinez that builds tension relentlessly.  It’s a tribute to the 80’s with echoes of Moroder, Kraftwerk, Eno, early Human League and more recently My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai.  Astounding.  That gets a straight ten in my book.

But of course that’s not what everyone’s talking about.

They’re talking about Ryan Gosling as the unnamed, unblinking, unflinching eponymous driver.

Ryan Gosling is amazing in this movie and while there are brilliant supporting roles from the touchingly understated Carey Mulligan as the love interest, Albert Brooks (nasty as the lead baddie with a tiny little bit of a heart) and Ron Perlman (neanderthal, wicked, compelling…gorgeous in a way) it’s Gosling all the way.  The performance of his career surely (great as he was in Blue Valentine, and I’ve not seen him in the much lauded Ides of March yet, but I will) he commands the screen with not a blink of his eye from start till end, well actually at the end there is a wee blink.  This is a tour de force performance and I loved it.

The violence is excellent.  Slow to come to the boil but shocking and visceral upon arrival.

The driving is not overdone.  Chase movies (except Ronan) are so tedious.

The love story is well developed but never gets in the way.

And the moral? Heroes come in all shapes and forms because this is surely a hero movie wrapped up in a complex web of antiheroes.

Very strongly recommended. 8.5 out of 10.

Senior by Royskopp.

Sweet like!

I’ve been intermittently interested in Royskopp’s stuff (Alpha Male is a stunning song) but nothing has the depth and subtly of this wholly instrumental and kind of danceable outing.  It’s very retro and borrows strongly from Kraftwerk (more than any other band) but smacks too of early Simple Minds, Air, early Human League (Dignity of Labour is a little known masterpiece), Sigur Ros, Tangerine Dream, Orb etc.

It’s wonderful and is, I understand, a companion piece to its simultaneously recorded sibling, Junior, which came out last year.

My god this is good.

I stumbled upon this at Fopp and paid top dollar for it (£15).  It’s a double CD compilation of German Electronic Music of mainly the 70’s.  The school of musical experamentalism that gave us Can, Faust and Nue (the best known exponents ) also gave rise to a host of widely disparate sounds.  Some funk, some jazz, some electronic.  All interesting.

Interestingly, no Kraftwerk, but they came from a different school and were less overtly political than this bunch who were rebelling against the worldwide reputation that Germany had earned itself in the wake of the second world war.

No two tracks arte the same but there is a great deal of overlap and their influence can certainly be heard in the work of early Human League (Dignity of Labour EP) and a host of other later bands.

One of my own favourites is Hans Joachim Rodelius who is represented here on his own and as the band, Cluster, the other member of Cluster, Deiter Moebius also pops up with a track.

Only Casn and Amon Duul get two tracks so the variety is huge.

It’s an electronic delight.