Kraftwerk are often cited – like The Beatles – as one of the most important bands of the 20th century, such was their influence on the music that followed (hello, techno…!)
However as this fascinating Cuepoint article from Uwe Schütte reveals, Ralf, Florian and their bandmates played an equally important role in helping German identity ‘move on’ from the atrocities of Nazism and the Second World War.
As Schütte explains, even the cover art is significant, with the two cars “loaded with symbolic meaning: while the black Mercedes, a make of car used by political leaders such as Adolf Hitler and West Germany’s first chancellor Konrad Adenauer, is shown driving towards the viewer, a VW Beetle, like the one Ralf Hütter owned at the time, can be seen driving towards the sunrise on the horizon, symbolizing the hopes of a younger generation for a brighter future beyond the troubled Nazi past.”
As for the music, Schütte references Kraftwerk’s own description of their work as ‘industrielle Volksmusik’ (industrial folk music), adding that this is not to be taken in the anti-establishment sense like Throbbing Gristle‘s early work; rather “it refers to a modern civilization based on technology, manufacturing and the use of machines. This further implies an association with the modernist notion that noise can be beautiful and hence typifies a contemporary musical aesthetic.”
[Taken from German Pop Music—A Companion, by Uwe Schütte]