9 Kraftwerk Songs to Make Life Better
November 16, 2016
50 years. That’s almost how long Kraftwerk and their electronically-driven sounds have affected the way music, and life really, has grown into itself. Many people may consider the 80s a period of synth monarchy, but in the early 70s, with the rise of space curiosity and science fiction, futuristic sounds needed to find a voice. Enter: Kraftwerk.
The German band was among the first to pioneer electronic music into popularity, taking it apart like a machine and finding beauty in its complexity. They were able to show how technology can elicit the same emotional reactions and capture similar moments of majesty as acoustic or live music–and change the world while they were at it. This December, Nu Deco Ensemble takes on their music for an all-new suite, so we decided it was time to take a deeper look into the music of Kraftwerk for better preparedness.
A No. 11 UK hit, the titular track off of their fourth album is a simpler take on their signature sound. With distortions, vocoders, and repetitive lyrics, all sandwiched in between the sounds of car doors and roaring accelerators, it’s a story in and of itself.
Tour De France
A lot of Kraftwerk music, like the actual band, is themed in movement, even if bicycles are not motor powered. It’s powerful and fast, lithe and active, the Tour De France Soundtracks perfectly captures the intensity of the world’s most exhausting cycling competition.
You can’t describe Kraftwerk without using the word “dynamic”, it just isn’t possible by man or machine. “The Robots” is a look into their ability to uplift and excite rather than warn or question. It’s encouraging and jarring at the same time.
The Man Machine
As they step into the more synth-pop side of their sound, the band sought to use heavy rhythm to make their questions about modernization and robotization of future civilizations more clear. This track and their entire seventh album are heavy on the catchiness.
It starts off in an ethereal arena with enough gentle reverb to reach the ends of our expanding universe, drawing you in until the beat comes in…and hard. Then it becomes this questioning exploration of the accomplishments of new technologies, and our role in them.
This No.1 UK hit is a perfect example of why the German outfit was always ahead of its time. They always changed it up, even when you expected something else. This one combined their classic synth rhythms with surprisingly relatable vocals and lyrics for a more popular sound.
This one sounds like something out of Stranger Things or any sci-fi adventure film. It’s slow building with reverb reminiscent of The Warriors, then innocent synth melodies come in for flavor, until the lyrics bring it all back together.
The Iron Curtain still loomed over Europe and a new generation of bright-minded artists were bringing about new ideas for all to share. This one is a manifestation of this oncoming change with a revolutionizing use of train language and synthesizing that eventually made its way overseas as a hit.
As a round off to the already heavy list, this one is meant to make you dance. With a beat suited for a hip hop verse at any moment, or a breakdance riff with any cue, they generally close out their live shows with this song, so Nu Deco should too. Just saying.
The Nu Deco Ensemble will be adding Kraftwerk’s music to their already stacked collection of musical suites including small names like Daft Punk, Radiohead, Jamiroquai, and LCD Soundsystem. From Dec 8th – 10th they’ll be closing out their shows with a tribute to the German revolutionaries with the help of Ricardo Romaniero, and a rousing live performance by Kishi Bashi. Snag those tickets now, they’re selling out quick.