Kraftwerk Box Set
“This rhythm, industrial rhythm, that’s what inspires me. It’s in the nature of the machines. Machines are funky.” – Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk
Afrika Bambaataa is known as the the Father of the electro funk sound. So the Grandfathers, of course, can be none other than German electro pop pioneers Kraftwerk. They originated the electro synth pop sound, combining the syncopated rhythms of industrial drum machine loops, synthesized melodies and dark strings with the robotic sounds of the vocoder.
Along with James Brown, they are one of the most heavily sampled groups of all time. Most famously, Afrika Bambaataa sampled Trans Europe Express and copied the beat from Numbers to create the hit Planet Rock. Kraftwerk were hugely popular with the early hip hop and electro funk scene, also being sampled by old school rap crews The Fearless Four, and Whodini, Kurtis Mantronik, Detroit electro crew A Number of Names in their mega hit Sharevari, electro funk artists such as Dexter from The Netherlands who paid tribute in his track I Program, Dynamix II, LA’s X-Men, Miami bass artists Freestyle, The Computor Rockers aka Ed DMX and 2 Live Crew, Detroit techno heavyweights Underground Resistance, The UK’s Gescom, experimental duo The Future Sound of London, new wave bands New Order and Depeche Mode and countless more.
Ian Curtis of Joy Division was a huge fan and both Joy Division and New Order list Kraftwerk as an influence. Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson created a whole new style of music – techno – by combining the electronic influences of Kraftwerk with a booty shaking funk sound. Kraftwerk’s machine beats and romantic synthesizer melodies can be heard as a clear influence on genius French electro artists Le Syndicat Electronique and Porn.Darsteller from Invasion Planète. Washington go-go band Trouble Funk covered Trans Europe express with live instruments turning into the epic funk jam Trouble Funk Express. Daft Punk‘s amazing live stage show and costuming pay no small tribute to the slick robotic stylings and video displays of The Man Machines’ live act. Oliver Chesler aka The Horrorist, founder of New York techno / ebm label Things To Come lists them as a big influence, as does Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, Ed Banger label boss Busy P, David Bowie, Dr. Dre, Radiohead and even The Sex Pistols.
I could spend hours telling you about the impact Kraftwerk have made across all genres of music and probably barely scratch the surface, so instead take a listen to my favourite Kraftwerk song: It’s More Fun To Compute, from their 1981 album Computer World.
For me, this is one of the tracks that really turned me on to electro big time from the first time I heard it. The beat kicks hard, pulsating with mechanical intensity, with a repetitive and dark but funky bassline, deep eery synth strings and a heavily vocodered voice informing us in a deadpan tone that it is more fun to compute.
The robots have just released their last 8 albums completely remastered as a special edition Kraftwerk box set on Astralwerks titled The Catalogue. It includes Autobahn, Radioactivity, Trans Europe Express, The Man-Machine, Computer World, Techno Pop, The Mix and Tour De France. “For the first time, I think the music sounds the way we always heard it and produced it in our Kling Klang Studio,” said Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk.