Kraftwerk (meaning power plant or power station) is an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western Classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation. The group's simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music and are considered pioneers in the field. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk's distinctive sound was revolutionary, and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music.
Like many other so-called Krautrock bands Kraftwerk was heavily influenced by the pioneering compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Hütter has also listed The Beach Boys as a major influence, which is apparent in its 1975 chart smash, Autobahn.
Kraftwerk's lyrics deal with post-war European urban life and technology—traveling by car on the Autobahn, traveling by train, using home computers, and the like. Usually, the lyrics are very minimal but reveal both an innocent celebration of, and a knowing caution about, the modern world, as well as playing an integral role in the rhythmic structure of the songs. Many of Kraftwerk's songs express the paradoxical nature of modern urban life—a strong sense of alienation existing side-by-side with a celebration of the joys of modern technology.
All of Kraftwerk's albums from Radio-Activity onwards have been released in separate versions: one with German vocals for sale in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and one with English vocals for the rest of the world, with occasional variations in other languages when conceptually appropriate.
Live performance has always played an important part in Kraftwerk's activities. Also, despite its live shows generally being based around formal songs and compositions, live improvisation often plays a noticeable role in its performances. This trait can be traced back to the group's roots in the first experimental Krautrock scene of the late 1960s, but, significantly, it has continued to be a part of its playing even as it makes ever greater use of digital and computer-controlled sequencing in its performances. Some of the band's familiar compositions have been observed to have developed from live improvisations at its concerts or sound-checks.
Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. Chief Seattle