Why I Love... Kraftwerk

By Fujiya & Miyagi
Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk's influence extends far beyond electronic music.

The German group's approach, their methodology has been adopted by countless artists from across the musical spectrum. With their impact splintering off into separate genres, Kraftwerk's shadow is cast across huge swathes of modern music.

Thankfully, Fujiya & Miyagi are here to gather the fragments together. The Brighton group share some obvious characteristics with Kraftwerk, but they also seem to pick up on some of the more outre, lesser heralded pieces of their output.

Acting as an inspiration rather than a straight influence, Kraftwerk's pulse can be felt throughout their recordings. With the current incarnation of the German group in town for those 'KRAFTWERK - THE CATALOGUE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8' shows, we invited David Best from Fujiya & Miyagi (and, of course, Omega Male) to discuss his love of their music.

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My earliest memory of kraftwerk is of them knocking my then favourite singer Shakin Stevens off the number one spot when I was around 8 or 9. I suppose other than that episode they didn't enter my world until six or seven years later. Discovering Can, Faust, Neu!, Cluster etc as a teenager directed me back to the Welsh Elvis usurpers.

It's a shame that their first three records seem to have been written out of their history, not least by the group themselves. 'Ruckzack' from 'Kraftwerk 1' and 'Kristallo' from 'Ralf & Florian' are particular favourites of mine. Although Autobahn, Trans Europe Express, Man Machine and Computer World contain some of the most beautiful and immaculate music ever created, my favourite LP by them is 'Radioactivity'.

From 'Kraftwerk 1 & 2' through to 'Ralf and Florian', Kraftwerk were still human. Starting from 'Autobahn' up to 'Electric Cafe' you hear them gradually disappear behind a wall of perfection. The voices become more synthised and become impersonal. I love the period where their humanity is still audible. 'Radioactivity', sandwiched between 'Autobahn' and 'Trans Europe Express', still sees them commenting on ideas and concepts rather than becoming them. There is a fragility in songs. The record seems to point to the future and hark back to the past at the same time.

In the title track the vocals play ping pong with a ten note synth melody. The amazing Vako Orchestron choir looms in the background. Listening again to the record you forget how very slow it is.

It's not all like that though. The tempo is broken by airwaves, a more talkative cousin to Cluster's sublime 'Zuckerzeit' LP with its persistent drum machine and playground melodies. The second half of the song sees the group loosen up, which is something not instantly associated with Kraftwerk. They tend to do this quite a lot though especially around the 'Man Machine' era.

'Radioactivity', as well as their music in general, gives me the impression that it was created fully formed. I'm sure it wasn't like that but thats what it sounds like. Nothing is there that doesn't need to be. It's not showing off music either. Everything is there for a reason. That's what we have tried to do with Fujiya & Miyagi. We try not to put elements in for the sake of it, and we are as interested in sounds just as much as words or any other of the elements that make up a record.

The beauty of Kraftwerk is that they were blessed with all these melodies which sounded like they were meticulously sculpted rather than played. 'Radioactivity' is less playful than 'Autobahn' and not as shiny as 'Man Machine' or 'Computer World'. It sits nicely with 'Trans Europe Express' in terms of atmosphere. Some songs are distinct, and others are less so, which gives it longevity. On those two records they left room for your imagination to wonder.

I tried to get tickets for the upcoming 'Radioactivity' show but I was thwarted like so many others by the Tate Modern's antiquated booking system. As a result, when I think of Kraftwerk at the moment I get angry. I don't want to feel angry when I think of them. Hopefully it will pass. I hope so.

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David Best's new album 'Omega Male' is out now - expect a new Fujiya & Miyagi album shortly.

Previously... Kompakt's Voigt Brothers dissect the impact of Kraftwerk.

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