307. Kraftwerk - Autobahn (1974)
2. Kometenmelodie 1
3. Kometenmelodie 2
Sometimes in the history of music something comes along that is just so different and good that it becomes totally revolutionary. Autobahn is definitely one of those cases, in this album you can see the blueprints for all kinds of music 10 years later. The use of electronic equipment as a means of making music was never before used so exclusively or expertly as in this album.
The sound of the album is sweeping but also surprisingly beautiful, hidden in here are the templates for all of synth-pop. The same thing kind of happened with proto-punk groups like The Monks, Stooges or New York Dolls, but while Punk would be a conflation of all these and more influences Kraftwerk seems to single-handedly create Synth-pop.
That said this isn't a pop-album, it consists of only 5 tracks and the title track lasts over 20 minutes. The title track was however edited into a radio friendly size and that way it managed to reach a pop audience. Still the album version is much superior to the radio edit, the length helps the track in mimicking the experience of driving in a highway for a period of time.
This is an astonishing innovative album that is at the same time accessible and beautiful, joining these three qualities is no mean feat, and even tough the title-track is the definite highlight, even if the album consisted only of the other 4 tracks we would still be talking about it today... that's how good it is. Get it from Amazon UK or US.
2. Kometenmelodie 2
Autobahn is not a completely electronic album, as violin, flute, and guitar are used along with synthesizers. The title track features both untreated and vocoded vocals; the remaining tracks are purely instrumental. Kraftwerk used a Minimoog as one of their synthesizers, which were known to cost as much as a Volkswagen at that time. Other instruments employed included the ARP Odyssey, EMS Synthi AKS and various devices of their own design and implementation, such as their famous electronic drums.
The title track is intended to capture the feeling of driving on the Autobahn; from the high-speed concentration of the fast lane, to the tuning of the car radio, to the monotony of a long trip. Autobahn is also the first of Kraftwerk’s concept albums of sorts, which they have done up to 2003.
The front cover of the original German edition was painted by Emil Schult, a long-time collaborator of Ralf and Florian, who also co-wrote the lyrics to the song "Autobahn". It was subsequently used on the cover of the 1985 re-issue. The version released in the UK on the Vetigo label in 1974 had a differently designed cover, produced by the label’s in-house marketing department.