‘Kraftwerk & The Electronic Revolution’ Documentary

It may be 3 hours long but this is undoubtedly one of the top documentaries I’ve seen in a while.

Although titled for and aiming at a review of the career of Kraftwerk, I was pleasantly surprised to find it more about a German generation hell-bent on creating their own sound. From this angle, Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution is an incredible and comprehensive snapshot of a lost underground attitude that Kraftwerk ended up leading. Can, Neu!, Klaus Shulze and Kluster are all in there as well as the ones that time forgot, as band members, academics, artists and journalists are among those interviewed on the uniquely German scene. I never thought I’d hear a music journalist explain Klaus Shulze tied to Sun Ra and Sunn O))) and not think to question it, but in context it actually makes perfect sense.

Originally done for 2008, apparently it’s not authorised by Kraftwerk. That said, it appears to some degree to be done in collaboration with the artists and former members themselves, answering a lot of questions I’ve never thought to ask, including the Beach Boys influence on Autohbahn and the parody that became their robotic identities. Some of the early photos they’ve acquired on top of this are brilliant.

There’s a load of highlights worth shouting out here, but as far as Kraftwerk themselves go it’s got to recordings and video of their first inception, as pre-Kraftwerk ensemble Organisation in the late ’60s. It was the first time I’d even heard of this short-lived group but then again it was probably the first time I ever stopped to think about where the Kraftwerk sound came from.

I’m certainly not going to be pulling out Kraftwerk records to thrash but I suddenly feel like the laziest man alive listening to music in a contemporary setting. Back then the ethos these guys stuck to was that it you can’t be an artist unless you’re creating your own sound.

I’m sure it’ll be streamed online somewhere but I gotta recommend you pick this one up on DVD (or do like I did and borrow it off a friend). There’s also some extra features but they don’t look great.