Friday, April 20, 2007

Krautrock

@ Wiki
Krautrock
is a generic name for the experimental bands who appeared in Germany in the late 1960s and gained popularity throughout the 1970s. It is based on the derogatory British ethnic slur "Kraut", which refers to "a German person" (and is derived from the name of the German pickled cabbage dish sauerkraut), and was coined by the music press in Great Britain, where "krautrock" found an early and enthusiastic underground following. BBC DJ John Peel in particular is largely credited with spreading the reputation of krautrock outside of the German-speaking world. As the popularity and influence of these groups has grown, the term "krautrock" has become generally accepted in the English-speaking world, and is more a simple descriptor than an insult.[1][2] It should be noted, though, that few or none of the groups in questions ever referred to themselves with this term. In his book Krautrocksampler, Julian Cope, for example, goes so far as to say that "Krautrock is a subjective British phenomenon" (64), as it is based rather on the way the music was received in the UK than on the actual West German music scene it grew out of. Members of the group Faust, today, distance themselves sharply from the term:

“... when the English people started talking about Krautrock, we thought they were just taking the piss... and when you hear the so-called 'Krautrock renaissance', it makes me think everything we did was for nothing.”

Krautrock is an eclectic and often very original mix of Anglo-American post-psychedelic jamming and moody progressive rock mixed with ideas from contemporary experimental classical music (especially composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, with whom, for example, Irmin Schmidt and Holger Czukay of Can had previously studied) and from the new experimental directions that emerged in jazz during the 1960's and 1970's. Moving away from the patterns of song structure and melody of much rock music in America and Britain, some in the movement also drove the music to a more mechanical and electronic sound. The key component characterizing the groups gathered under the term is the synthesis of Anglo-American rock and roll rhythm and energy with a decided will to distance themselves from specifically American blues origins, but to draw on German or sources instead. Jean-Hervé Peron of Faust says:

“We were trying to put aside everything we had heard in rock 'n' roll, the three-chord pattern, the lyrics. We had the urge of saying something completely different.”

Typical bands dubbed "krautrock" in the 1970s included Tangerine Dream, Faust, Can, The Petards, Amon Düül and others associated with the celebrated Cologne-based producers and engineers Dieter Dierks and Conny Plank, such as Neu!, Kraftwerk and Cluster. Bands such as these were reacting against the need to develop a radically new musical aesthetics and cultural identity for the post-WWII. Many of these groups began their musical careers with little or no awareness of or interest in rock and roll; exposure to the increasingly radical and innovative music of, in addition to the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, or the Beatles, for example, led members of groups like Can or Kraftwerk to embrace popular music for the first time.

The signature sound of krautrock mixed rock music and "rock band" instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums) with electronic instrumentation and textures, often with what would now be described as an ambient music sensibility. Many albums featured a pulsing rhythm section so steady that its practitioners dubbed it "motorik"—a mongrel word meaning, roughly, "mechanical music".[5]

By the end of the 1960s, the American and British counterculture and hippie movement had moved rock towards psychedelia, heavy metal, progressive rock and other styles, incorporating, for the first time in popular music, socially and politically incisive lyrics. The 1968 German student movement, French protests and Italian student movement had created a class of young, intellectual continental listeners, while nuclear weapons, pollution, and war inspired protests and activism. Avant-garde music had taken a turn towards the electronic in the mid-1950s; the roots of electronic music, however, extend into the 19th century.

These factors all laid the scene for the explosion in what came to be termed krautrock, which arose at the first major German rock festival in 1968 in Essen.[6] Like their American, British and international counterparts, German rock musicians played a kind of psychedelia. It was however, strikingly innovative as a fusion of psychedelia and the electronic avant-garde. That same year, 1968, saw the foundation of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin by Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler, which further popularized the psychedelic-rock sound in the German mainstream. Originally Krautrock was a form of Free art, which meant that Krautrock bands gave their records away for free at Free Art Fairs.

The next few years saw a wave of pioneering groups. In 1968, Can formed, adding jazz to the mix (and in that way the krautrock scene can be seen to parallel the emerging Canterbury scene in England at the same time), while the following year saw Kluster (later Cluster) begin recording electronic instrumental music with an emphasis on static drones. In 1970, Popol Vuh became the first krautrock group to use an electronic synthesizer, to create what would be known as "kosmische musik". The bands Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, and Cosmic Jokers (all linked by collaboration with Klaus Schulze), would follow suit in the years to come. Faust also made use of synthesizers and tape manipulation in a way foreshadowing the noise rock of the future.

In 1972, two albums incorporated European rock and electronic psychedelia with Asian sounds: Popol Vuh's In den Gärten Pharaos and Deuter's Aum. Meanwhile, kosmische musik saw the release of two double albums, Klaus Schulze's Cyborg and Tangerine Dream's Zeit (produced by Dieter Dierks), while a band called Neu! began to play highly rhythmic music. By the middle of the decade, one of the most well-known German bands, Kraftwerk, had released albums like Autobahn and Radio-Activity, which laid the foundation for electro, techno and other styles later in the century.

The release of Tangerine Dream's Phaedra in 1974 marked a divergence of that group from Krautrock to a more melodic sequencer-driven sound that was later termed Berlin School. In that same year Klaus Schulze delivered one more LP of pure Krautrock, Blackdance, and began to release more hypnotic versions of what TD was doing.

Klaus Schulze
Klaus Schulze is a German electronic music composer and musician. He also used the alias Richard Wahnfried. He was briefly a member of the electronic bands Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel before a pioneering and prolific solo career of 40+ albums (totalling 110+ CDs) in 30+ years.

History
In 1969, Klaus Schulze was the drummer of one of the early incarnations of Tangerine Dream for their debut album Electronic Meditation. In 1970 he left this group to form Ash Ra Tempel with Manuel Göttsching. In 1971, he chose again to leave a newly-formed group after only one album, this time to mount a solo career. In 1972, Schulze released his debut album Irrlicht with organ and a recording of an orchestra filtered almost beyond recognition. Despite the lack of synthesizers, this proto-ambient work is regarded as a milestone in electronic music. The follow up, Cyborg, was similar but added the EMS Synthi A synthesizer.

He has had a prolific career, with more than 40 original albums to his name since Irrlicht, some highlights being 1976's Moondawn, 1979's Dune, and 1995's double-album In Blue (featuring one long track with electric guitar by his pal Manuel Göttsching of Ash Ra Tempel). He often takes German events as a starting point in his compositions, particularly on his album "X" (the title signifying it was his tenth album) in 1978 which was subtitled "Six Musical Biographies", including such notables as Ludwig II of Bavaria, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. His use of the pseudonym Richard Wahnfried indicates his interest in Richard Wagner, which also informs other albums of his music, notably Timewind.

Throughout the 1970's he worked mostly in the musical vein of the above-mentioned Tangerine Dream, albeit with far lighter sequencer lines and a more reflective, dreamy edge, not unlike the ambient music of contemporary Brian Eno. Some of his lighter albums are appreciated by new age music fans, but Schulze has always denied connections to this genre.

Klaus Schulze had a more organic sound than other electronic artists of the time. Often he would throw in decidedly non-electronic sounds such as acoustic guitar and a male operatic voice in Blackdance, or a cello in Dune and Trancefer. Schulze developed a Minimoog technique that sounds uncannily like an electric guitar, which is quite impressive in concert.

In the 1980's Schulze moved from analog to digital instruments, and his work accordingly became less experimental and more accessible. Although the switch to purely digital recording and instruments is evident in the style of Dig It (1980) It was not until the release of Trancefer (1981) that the shift in style became evident. Trancefer was far more obviously reliant on sequencers than previous recordings, and the resultant affect transformed Schulze's style from gentle melodic journeys to and ever growing crescendo of music consisting of multi layered rhythmical passages. This is particularly evident in the Trancefer's first track "A few moments after Trancefer", although the second track "Silent Running" is more reminiscent of Schulze's earlier works.

This newer style can also be found in Schulze's next release Audentity. Both "Cellistica" and "Spielglocken" are composed in a similar, sequencer based, style as Trancefer, but this is certainly not the case of all of Audentity's tracks, indeed "Sebastian in Traum" hints towards the Operatic style to be found in some of Schulze's much later work. The predominance of sequencing can also be found in the follow up live album Dziekuje Poland Live '83, although it should be noted that many of its tracks are re-workings of those to be found on Audentity. Schulze's next sudio based album Angst moved away from the harshness of sharp, heavily sequenced style of the 3 previous albums and, once again, had the more "organic feel" of earlier recorndings. Another highlight of this era was En=Trance with the dreamy cut "FM Delight". The album Miditerranean Pads marked the beginning of very complex percussion arrangements that continued into the next two decades.

Starting with Beyond Recall, the first half of the 1990's was the notorious "sample" period, when Schulze used a variety of pre-recorded sounds of screeching birds and sensuous female moans in his studio albums and live performances. Sampling was such an unpopular diversion that when In Blue was released in 1995 without samples it was hailed as a return to form. The decade also saw the release of copious amounts of previously unreleased material, of varying quality, in several limited-edition boxed sets. Some live recordings were discovered on pristine but forgotten reels of tape which had been used to provide echo in concerts.

Recently Schulze began incorporating elements of jazz and classical music, working with more contemporary techno dance music such as trance, and creating two opera, the second still awaiting release. Also, in 2005 he began re-releasing his classic solo and Wahnfried albums with bonus tracks of unreleased material recorded at roughly the same time as the original works. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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2 comments:

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog