A beginner's guide...

“Kosmiche musik”, or krautrock as it was cheekily termed by the UK music press, has had a profound effect on contemporary music.

If you look closely, krautrock is merely an umbrella term for a vast experimental German “scene” that was conceived in the late 60s and developed further in the early 70s. Its influence is clear if you listen to the output of The Fall, Stereolab, Tortoise, or more recently (and blatantly) Eine Kleine Nacht Musik.

It has - perhaps unknowingly at times - filtered through to scores of bands, producer and composers in far-flung corners of the world that seek diversion from the accepted musical styles that surround them. Take Kraftwerk, the famed Dusseldorf band born out of the krautrock scene, and you can plot a path from pretty much any genre today, back to this fertile avant-garde era. With this in mind, we believe a krautrock round-up fits the mflow ethos perfectly.

Krautrock also made an impression on a certain BBC DJ, John Peel, whom many credit for spreading the sounds of these musicians; seeking higher ground from the glossy, popular, Schlager (loosely translated as “hit” music) that flooded the German charts at the time.
Join us as we countdown our Krautrock selection on MFlow. Download it and use Clash's exclusive code 'CLASH0403' to start 'flow'ing.

1. Harmonia & Eno ‘76 – ‘By The Riverside’
We kick off the chart off with a track by a krautrock supergoup Harmonia, a collaboration between Michael Rother of Neu!, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Mobius of Cluster, and Brian Eno, who needs no introduction. Last year the Groenland label released an excellent expanded reissue of the out-of-print ‘Tracks and Traces’ long-player. Relatively ambient in its style, the recordings were made whilst living and recording together over 11 days in the rural village of Forst, West Germany.

Harmonia & Brian Eno - 'By The Riverside'

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2. Tangerine Dream - ‘Uma Thule, Part One’
The extensive spiritual sounds of Tangerine Dream typify the “kosmiche” or cosmic element of the experimental movement. Known for creating synthesised atmospheres, and very rarely toying with vocals, this selection in its physical form is an extremely rare single from 1972. Released at a time of stylistic juncture, Tangerine Dream later shifted into more into the largely unchartered realms of electronica.

3. NEU! – ‘Hallogallo’
The trademark minimalist 4/4 “motorik” drumming of NEU! has since been embraced by PiL, Bowie, Hawkwind, Broadcast, Radiohead… the list is endless. The band formed after members Michael Rother (him again) and Klaus Dinger split from Kraftwerk. Folklorists will tell you NEU! are the founding fathers of krautrock, and if that’s so, then ‘Hallogallo’ is where it all began; this is the opening track from their very first album.

Neu! - Hallogallo

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4. Klaus Schulze – ‘Star Dancer II’
The composer Klaus Schulze has produced over 60 albums spanning four decades. Searching through mflow, we picked out ‘Star Dancer II’ as it forms the soundtrack for Lasse Braun’s classic porno chic movie Body Love. Schulze features twice in the highly recommended (though unfortunately now out-of-print) book Krautrocksampler by Julian Cope, in which The Teardrop Explodes frontman lists 50 of his essential records from the genre. Crucial further reading!

5. Guru Guru – ‘Der Elektrolurch’
Things really get surreal on this ten-minute wonder. The meandering drum patterns allow for all sorts of krautrock psychedelic tinkering. With Guru Guru you get a trippy blend of their free-jazz affiliated improvisation, and extended prog-rock style jams. But flip the record and you could find yourself listening to a much more straightforward rock ‘n’ roll number. There is so much range to this band, such a huge back-catalogue to get stuck into.




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