sexta-feira, 30 de março de 2012
Kraftwerk, and the Electronic Revolution (2008)
As innovative as they are influential, Kraftwerk's contribution to the development of electronic music since their formation in 1970 remains unsurpassed. Having inspired everyone from Bowie to Coldplay, Siouxsie to Radiohead, this bizarre collective have also proven partly responsible for entire genres to develop - electronica, techno and synth-pop to name but three. This DVD reviews the career and music of Kraftwerk, from their inception in the late 1960s (as pre-Kraftwerk ensemble Organization), through their most celebrated period in the mid 1970s, and culminating with their resurgence during the 1980s with the popularity of synth-pop and techno. The film further explores how Kraftwerk both fitted in and pulled away from the electronic wing of what is often lazily referred to as 'Krautrock'. Sparing time also for many of the groups' contemporaries from the same field, and tracing the unfolding of electronics in German contemporary music generally, this program presents a fascinating story previously untold on film. It features rarely seen live and performance footage of Kraftwerk and of other Electronic and 'Krautrock' bands - much from private collections, rare photographs of Kraftwerk and others, exclusive and extensive Interviews with ex-Kraftwerk members and other German ambient and electronic musicians, contributions and enlightenment from German academics, writers and journalists, live and studio recordings of many of Kraftwerk's pivotal tracks, plus live and studio recordings of many other bands form the 'Krautrock' movement.
There’s much that can be said of Kraftwerk in terms of their perhaps ever-expanding sphere of influence. If one considers the hip-hop, techno, electronica, ambient, and of course, rock artists they’ve influenced—and in turn the artists those artists have influenced—the German band’s touch is continually exponential. Before their time, as well as that of many others yet to come, Kraftwerk were at the forefront of electronic experimentation in the ‘60s (when Kraftwerk principals Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter were in a group called the Organisation) and ‘70s, as well as the flourishing scene in Germany. They blended organic instrumentation with homemade implements until technology started catching up with them while similarly pushing the envelope until popular music too got up to speed. “Autobahn,” “Radio Activity” and “Trans-Europe Express” remain classics, while the band’s cumulative oeuvre seems contemporary as ever today.
While not an “authorized” biography, Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution is about as thorough a look at the band as one could hope. At three hours in running time, the DVD documentary covers a vast amount of territory. Indeed, the video is close to an hour in before even getting to the formation of the band from the splinters of the Organisation. As such, it does an exceedingly exceptional job of placing Kraftwerk in the context of their origination. What was eventually called Krautrock is explored in depth, with great video from the Zodiac club and well-known contemporaries like Can, Tangerine Dream, Neu! and Amon Dull as well as lesser-knowns like Popol Vuh, not to mention Kraftwerk themselves. In addition, the classical strain of electronic music initiated by artists like Karlheinz Stockhausen is more than just touched upon. The doc also gets to those persons, like Brian Eno and David Bowie, who were directly influenced by Kraftwerk, so really no stone is left unturned.
Interviews with artists and critics help elucidate the importance of Kraftwerk, as well as the band’s development. The best of these come from former members, with the talks with Karl Bartos being particularly illuminating. The film eventually traces the band’s influence to new wave artists like Soft Cell, Simple Minds and Gary Numan and hip-hop masterminds like Afrika Bambaataa, but then ends abruptly soon there after, not really getting to the band’s fluctuating activity during the last decade. Still the only things the DVD is missing are interviews with Schneider and Hütter, but then they probably couldn’t say anything about the band that isn’t already said.
Kraftwerk - German engineering's iciest godfathers - may have made themselves more available than ever in the last several years what with festival dates and mini-tours. But make no mistake. As paters of Krautrock-cum-robot-ronica, theirs is the sound of the hermetic and sealed-away; distant and sweat-less despite leaders Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter's bicycle treks on le "Tour de France." The same goes for its demeanor when it comes to getting inside the duo: this is a movie whose packaging is clearly labeled "This Film Was Not Authorized by Kraftwerk," which means they ain't talking. That could be because Karl Batos, the famously tossed-out K-werker is interviewed within the package, even meritorious of his own extra feature.
But that's such a shame that that Florian and Ralf aren't in on the joke. You can talk about the chill and the minimalism of their past; the elegant inertia of their muzik. Yet, for the Düsseldorf-based unit once prepared to send animatronic showroom dummies out to do their dirty work, the over-thirty-eight-year-old act is a flesh-and-blood duo whose contribution and connection to its motherland (and well as to all brands of music, from new wave and disco to punk and techno-house, electroclash and hip hop to electronic music in their wake) is undeniable. And too under-documented.
Here you're given a look-see into the Kraftwerk of the late 1960s (as Organization) with some truly greasy pictures of the duo and their Krautrock contemporaries such as Dieter Moebius, Klaus Schulze, Hans Joachim Rodelius, whose eyes provide the window into the wonk-atronica and avant-garde sputtering of their given scenes. You get the hear the growth of Kraftwerk's sound and how it was winnowed from the analog blur and kick of the early ‘70s machine muzik into something more mechanistic and robotic, yet danceable; filled with a pucker and hot breath on "Autobahn," live wiry wiggling and railing by "Trans-Europe Express," to the full-out heart attack bass and string-striking glee of their present with brooding melodies, celestial harps, and Gregorian-chanted speed garage noise in between.
Kraftwerk is an anomaly; as quaintly old-fashioned and baroque as they are modernistic. They could not be stopped. Which ultimately is the point of their story. You just wish they could've been stopped for a few minutes to say something about it.
Extra features: "The Düsseldorf Scene Vs. The Berlin Scene"; extended interview with Karl Batos: I Was a Robot; full contributor biographies A.D. AMOROSI