Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution: A Documentary Film

(MVD Visual, 180 minutes)


Kraftwerk – German engineering’s iciest godfathers – may
have made themselves more available than ever in the last several years what
with festival dates and mini-tours. But make no mistake. As paters of
Krautrock-cum-robot-ronica, theirs is the sound of the hermetic and
sealed-away; distant and sweat-less despite leaders Florian Schneider and Ralf
Hütter’s bicycle treks on le “Tour de France.” The same goes for its demeanor when
it comes to getting inside the duo: this is a movie whose packaging is clearly
labeled “This Film Was Not Authorized by Kraftwerk,” which means they ain’t
talking. That could be because Karl Batos, the famously tossed-out K-werker is
interviewed within the package, even meritorious of his own extra feature.


But that’s such a shame that that Florian and Ralf aren’t in
on the joke. You can talk about the chill and the minimalism of their past; the
elegant inertia of their muzik. Yet, for the Düsseldorf-based unit once
prepared to send animatronic showroom dummies out to do their dirty work, the
over-thirty-eight-year-old act is a flesh-and-blood duo whose contribution and
connection to its motherland (and well as to all brands of music, from new wave
and disco to punk and techno-house, electroclash and hip hop to electronic
music in their wake) is undeniable. And too under-documented.


Here you’re given a look-see into the Kraftwerk of the late
1960s (as Organization) with some truly greasy pictures of the duo and their
Krautrock contemporaries such as Dieter Moebius, Klaus Schulze, Hans Joachim
Rodelius, whose eyes provide the window into the wonk-atronica and avant-garde
sputtering of their given scenes. You get the hear the growth of Kraftwerk’s
sound and how it was winnowed from the analog blur and kick of the early ‘70s
machine muzik into something more mechanistic and robotic, yet danceable;
filled with a pucker and hot breath on “Autobahn,” live wiry wiggling and
railing by “Trans-Europe Express,” to the full-out heart attack bass and
string-striking glee of their present with brooding melodies, celestial harps,
and Gregorian-chanted speed garage noise in between.


Kraftwerk is an anomaly; as quaintly old-fashioned and
baroque as they are modernistic. They could not be stopped. Which ultimately is
the point of their story. You just wish they could’ve been stopped for a few
minutes to say something about it.


Extra features: “The
Düsseldorf Scene Vs. The Berlin Scene”; extended interview with Karl Batos: I
Was a Robot; full contributor biographies A.D. AMOROSI



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