Please read our selection of Kraftwerk: Autobahn before reading our reviews below.
So far after 3 reviews we haven’t had too many disagreements and our views on Kraftwerk were again all fairly similar. The great thing about this group is that no matter what we pick we are dedicated to listening as objectively as possible and to give our best opinions. I’m sure that will change when I(Darren) hate something but for now we are all good. This is the last pick we will review this method as we are working on a better rating system. Ok, on with the review.
What was cool about Autobahn and Kraftwerk:
- We all respected the creativity and innovation in their music and that leaders break the mould
- We are amazed at the amount of artists we now listen to that credit Kraftwerk as a key influencer.
- It spawned Mike Myers Dieter character on Saturday Night Live. Touch my monkey!
- Umm…. that was about it.
What we didn’t find so cool :
- The music. Sorry, but that was very true. None of us got it. Too unstructured and weird for us.
- Didn’t seem to stand the test of time. That kind of sound effects and synth sounds dated.
- Their singing. Lol.
We aren’t sure who to recommend this music to but I can say if you like Krautrock and hard-core electronic music you might like it. Thanks for the influence and your creativity Kraftwerk.
Read our full individual reviews below. We hope that you all enjoy such a great band.
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.
Our Full Reviews
Kraftwerk is a band I’d heard of many times over the years, often as a giggling-aside by rock artists, but I’d heard them referenced enough that I figured they must carry some weight in certain musical circles.
Despite enjoying many genres of music and often digging to find their musical roots, I’d never headed down the Kraftwerk road, or autobahn should I say. Over the last decade-plus I’ve gotten into some electronic-centric bands like the Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and The Crystal Method among others, but never understood how they make such music. I’ve wondered where such groups (or guys in a room with a couple computers and a keyboard) get their inspirations and now I partially know the answer I suspect.
Autobahn is bizarre and it’s not an album I see myself listening to again. It just doesn’t fit any situation, mood, or occasion that I usually play music for. That said, I’ve listened to it six times and enjoyed the experience, albeit on a multitude of levels. Some of the singing just plain cracked me up; at times sounding like a bunch of first-year college kids, semi-terrified around a recording device and not sure what to do. Each time I heard their voices I found myself grinning with a little laugh. Then comes a recorder (or flute?) on one track that made me think of the theme song to a children’s show I used to watch as a kid, The Friendly Giant. Bizarre but innovative, blazing new trails, and obviously completely cutting edge for the time, (or today for that matter) but just too out-there for me to completely grasp and enjoy on a regular listening basis.
The above said I completely respect the recording, band and what these guys did. Way back in 1974 when this came out, synthesizers and electronic instruments were virtually unheard of. Their use of the then revolutionary Moog Synthesizer was a foray into unknown territory and they had the balls to do it. Pioneers don’t always produce the best initial product, but they set the course for others to do so.
As I was listening to a Beastie Boys album recently, one of my favorite bands, I couldn’t help thinking they must have been influenced in part by Kraftwerk, or by other bands that were in some shape or form. It’s pretty easy to see (and hear) how Kraftwerk and Autobahn pushed music down a brand new road and they deserve a certain amount of respect and credit for that.
I have to say that my first knowledge of Kraftwerk was in the mid-80s. I liked Depeche Mode’s Just can’t get enough. I heard that Kraftwerk were their influencers on Good Rockin’ Tonight, a Canadian video music show. Shortly after that I’d watch Saturday Night Live and loved Mike Myers Dieter character who often referenced Kraftwerk. From that point I always associated Kraftwerk with weird people to be honest. Ha ha ha.
In the decades that followed, being a music geek, I would hear of the influence they had but I never really gave their music a chance. I really went into this month’s choice with an open mind to try to give such influencers the respect they deserved.
I did realize almost instantly that this type of music will struggle to stand the test of time. I found the electronic sounds kind of cheesy and dated. It reminded me of 80s horror movie soundtracks. Ok ok… I said I’d give them a chance. Putting myself back in that time I do realize how weird it was to hear music with almost no traditional instruments. I imagine there were many people that were blown away by how unique these sounds were as it opened up a whole new music genre. I respect that, I really do. I also respect what they did.
For me though, it’s just a bit too weird and unstructured. To this day I still am not a fan of most slow tempo music and I love a great beat. Kraftwerk just pushed that too far for me. Thanks for your creativity, ingenuity and the great artists and technology you influenced. If you like off-kilter music I would assume you are already a fan. If you haven’t listened to them yet and aren’t sure, I’m gonna guess you may not love them.
About 5 years ago, I listened to Autobahn at the recommendation of Alan Cross. He spoke highly of Kraftwerk in his book, The History of Alternative Rock, and it piqued my curiosity. To think that this eclectic group of German guys used primitive and unusual electronic instruments to create such groundbreaking stuff and influenced loads of different genres for decades?! Cool. Very cool.
So I gave it a listen, and frankly, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it then, and I’m sad to say, I don’t really like it now.
I know. I chose this album to review, and it feels wrong of me to admit that it’s not my cup of tea, but at least I can honestly say I didn’t pick it out of personal bias. This album is supposed to embody a milestone of music history, a place where technology and sound intercept on a path that we’re still travelling on today. That was the basis for my choice.
The entire Autobahn album is basically one long audio-skeuomorphism that is meant to evoke the sensation of going for a drive down the Autobahn, and while I’ve never been on that road myself, there are certainly some parts evocative of highway travel. While your traditional pop-song structure is absent, there are times when the music is catchy. There are also, unfortunately, many times where I felt like I was listening to nothing but white noise. I’m sure this was intended by Kraftwerk, but lets be honest… If I wanted to listen to the sound of traffic, I’d turn the radio off.
My whole life I’ve kind of grouped Kraftwerk under the vague banner of “80’s Euro/German Pop” along with Falco, the Scorpions, Nena, and even Hasselhoff. Just kind of background noise that I’ve never been sufficiently motivated to explore in any detail. Listening through Autobahn, I can’t say I’m any closer to being motivated.
It’s clear that Kraftwerk played a big role in influencing the sound of future bands; bands which displayed a much tighter, mature sound that moved in a more focused and linear direction. As I listened, the two names that kept popping into my head were Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy and Tangerine Dream’s score for Legend. (The last one is especially interesting, seeing as how Tangerine Dream were formed in 1967 and probably influenced Kraftwerk, although TG’s score for Legend was released eleven years after Autobahn, in 1985…so who influenced who?). But, influence does not equal greatness.
I’d also be remiss to forget to mention the other thing that popped into my head – Ross’ long-dormant music career in Friends.
Much like Ross’ compositions, I generally found Autobahn nothing more than a mash of random sounds, buzzes, whizzes, bells, bangs and noise, with no direction or focus. It’s supposed to represent driving on the Autobahn, which I’ve never done. Maybe I’d understand more after a trip to Germany, but I just don’t get it.