Proper Krauts (1971-78)
Spareness, rigor, and a sense of experiment is what Brian Eno appreciated about a lot of West-German music from the early Seventies. The stoic, almost machine like drumming of many tunes subsumed these qualities and became the hallmark of a new sound that the British music press called Krautrock.
It was different from British pop or American rock, correlated with the German mentality, and – most importantly – had nothing to do with the horrible Nazi past that had ended not so long ago. In fact, most Krautrock music was not not rock at all, even if the bands used the same equipment as rock bands.
In was in Düsseldorf that Kraftwerk approached their signature sound at the beginning of the decade. Their former drummer Klaus Dinger founded La Düsseldorf, and Wolfgang Riechmann, whose sound made machines express longing, was also active in the Rhine city.
However, much of the musical experimentation took place in a rural setting. In 1971, Faust recorded in their newly built studio and home in a former school building in the small village of Wümme near Hamburg.
In the same year, Cluster members Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius had moved from West-Berlin to a remote old farmhouse located in Lower Saxony‘s Forst. The influence of the Weser Upland’s lovely landscape on the duo’s rhythmic, spacey and playful electronic music is clearly audible.
After helping Cluster out with equipment like Farfisa instruments, a four-track recorder, and a drum machine, Michael Rother of Neu! joined the band and they became Harmonia – three individuals with shared ideas about living freely and being independent of record companies.
With a similar mindset, Kalacakra were active in Duisburg’s seedy port district Ruhrort. The duo had turned its curiosity about the spiritual promises of the Indian subcontinent into crude music in an improvised studio in an attic and self-released the LP Crawling To Lhasa in an edition of 1,000 copies.
West-Germany’s vibrant experimental music scene in the 1970s piqued the curiosity of international artists eager to collaborate. After escaping a California prison in 1970, LSD advocate Timothy Learymet up with West-Berlin’s free-form improvisers Ash Ra Tempel in his Swiss exile to record the ultimate psychedelic trip. And in 1976 Brian Eno visited Harmonia in Forst. Since the band had already decided to break up, the meeting was merely an exchange of ideas, with no plan for an album.
Around the world, people were pleasantly surprised by the curiosity, originality and friendliness of the young West-German musicians; however, in the seclusion of their home country, most of their music played no role. To this day, names like Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Klaus Dinger or Werner ‘Zappi’ Diermaier are not part of the German collective memory.
45 minutes with Cluster, Faust, Harmonia 76, Wolfgang Riechmann and others.
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Zweitverwendung von soundscentral.org