1972 was an exceptional year for Krautrock and for German rock and roll. And there is a difference. Krautrock is that experimental form of rock n roll based on the work of minimalists and mad scientist composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen. Bands like Can ( see yesterday's post) , NEU!, Popl Vuh, Faust, Kraftwerk, and Cluster are clearly Krautrock. The great Twenty Sixty Six And Then is probably just German rock and roll ( as is Grobschnitt). Bands like Amon Duul, Embryo and Guru Guru straddle the two. So if we can in the time we have left, we'll deal with the others later. This is just an overview of Krautrock circa 1972.
For their debut album, former Kraftwerk members Klaus Dinger ( drums) and Michael Rother ( guitar) knocked out this influential album of experimental sounds and lyrics in just four days with the help of Can producer Conrad Plank. You can hear the future sounds of Bowie, Eno and Thom Yorke over the 4/4 Motorik beat that became one of Krautrock's trademarks. Fair warning: not everything is as enjoyable as "Negativland". Some of the stuff on this album will clear the room.
This is far more interesting than the drummerless sophmore effort Kraftwerk 2 despite the latter's astonishing 17 minute epic dronefest "Klingklang" which anticipates the sidelong title cut on 1974's Autobahn.
After experimenting with ambient sounds, Florian Fricke shelved his synthesizers and created an album inspired by sacred music using organic instruments. There's an East meets West vibe here but for the most part Hosianna Mantra is as lovely and ethereal an album as you'll ever find.
Faust has a notorious aversion to anything even slightly conventional. That holds true on the second album, So Far. After all, the most memorable English lyrics on the album are "Daddy, take the banana! Tomorrow is Sunday!" ( If you have a twitter account I dare you to tweet this line). I played the opening cut "It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" to my 10 and 7 year old kids and they loved it.
Years before collaborating with Brian Eno, Cluster was a trio of German experimenters using electronic sounds to create ambient atmospheres. With their second album, you can drone out in your noise reduction headphones and try lip reading your children telling you how hungry they are. Or you can just close your eyes and float up into a psonic stratosphere in your own mind.