Autobahn and On

Kraftwerk is the bridge between dada and Bambaataa

"This tour has given me many different scenes to work with," he continues. "We started in Scandinavia in the winter, and ran into some strange cultural situations in Moscow, in the snow. So I'm thinking about climactic changes, weather-related sounds."

"Aero Dynamik," one of the new songs from Soundtracks, is pretty typical Kraftwerk fare and a sturdy bridge from the past to the present. The song has a restrained, syncopated keyboard melody and a drum machine click-track; it sounds both brilliantly spare as well as something the Mathletes from the film Mean Girls could have come up with during detention. The music of Kraftwerk, a source of samples for so many other artists, sounds just slightly academic precisely because it is wholly original and without musical references to other artists. This is not to say Kraftwerk doesn't use other sonic textures; the entire Trans-Europe Express album was dedicated to and uses noises from train stations in Germany and France. Released in 1977, Trans-Europe Expresswas the inspiration for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's 1983 masterpiece Dazzle Ships, which was recorded in a British shipyard.

Hütter is sanguine about Kraftwerk's buttoned-down image and possible legacy.

The seminal Krautrock band Kraftwerk looms large over latter-day musical history
Peter Boettcher
The seminal Krautrock band Kraftwerk looms large over latter-day musical history

"Music is in no way coming close to what electronics can express. The interaction of man and machine is only now being realized," he says. "But I don't want to tell people what to think about Kraftwerk, not even specific songs. Our music is like a guide, not a script, for your thoughts and imagination. Listen, and make up your own history."

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