Uwe Schütte

Kraftwerk: Future Music from Germany

This book, as you might have guessed, is all about Kraftwerk. It covers their story and background up to their current legacy as one of the pioneers of electronic music. Schütte covers a lot in this book but mainly covers each release and iteration of the group and Kraftwerk as a cultural phenomenon. He makes a disclaimer at the start to emphasise that he’s not going to cover things such as ‘gossip regarding personal quarrels, biographical issues and tales of human shortcomings’. Schütte gives a semi-comprehensive study on Kraftwerk as a concept and explores the graphic design, visual presentation and art-historical background of the artists, which gives an insightful view of the band.

I was drawn to this book after seeing it at the gift shop of the Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers exhibition at the Design Museum. I sort of had an idea of how influential Kraftwerk were and I’d listened to quite a bit of their music, however I’d never really read into their history and how they came to be and evolve. Also, given the recent passing of Florien Schneider, I naturally became more interested in this aspect of the band and I thought this would be a good place to explore more. 

When you think about how much music has changed since the 70’s it’s odd to think that one band would have done so much to revolutionise the course of modern music. It’s quite weird to see electronic music to go from this to what it is today. Kraftwerk’s ability to use their background to create visionary concepts from Autobahn to Tour de France, is quite admirable. I also really like the secretive nature of the band because it does add a sense of mystery but I do kind of just respect private individuals. 

I really enjoyed learning about the visual arts side to the band and how important that was. If you’ve ever seen them perform in any capacity there’s clearly an emphasis on Kraftwerk being more of a concept rather than just a band. From performing in museums and prestigious buildings to the influence of Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol and Hilla and Bernd Becher.

I’d highly recommend this book if you have any interest in music and art. It’s an insightful read and covers the span of their long career including artistic influences and evolution from two friends to one of the most influential bands in modern music.