MEMOS FROM A MUSIC FIEND
BY ALEJANDRO MAGAÑA
Kraftwerk: Ralf and Florian
So Kraftwerk’s first three records have just been reissued and I finally got a vinyl copy of this, their third, which sounds quite heavenly, after years of my MP3 ripped from Youtube that played as one long track on my iTunes. This alleviates my jonesing for the best cosmic Krautrock dead on, which is to say, it has atmospheric, mind-bending soundscapes and little musical vignette-like jams with ambient bubbling synthesizer, farfisa filigree, and lilting chiming guitars while showing the compositional turn to linear minimalism and machine-like percussion. The album sits precariously between the first two Kraftwerks, and their strange German mutant-jazz jams, and the minimal electronic mechanism of the more popular mid-late career records like “Radioactivity” and “Trans Europe Express.”
Recorded with the legendary Konrad “Conny” Plank, it is not unlike Harmonia in feeling. Intensely psychedelic but as strange as this record’s sound can be, it is actually a very soothing ambient record, the kind of thing that fills contemplative space in my mind, without having to hear the quotidian human voice I am so wary of the last few days.
My heart is wounded, rent by the conflict festering after the events of the last few days, (specifically January 6, 2021) wondering if I were in a position of power in the Senate or the House what the most immediate form of amelioration might take. I think that some of the inclinations I, and many others have towards more wild experimentation in music, or any art for that matter, is it feels as though one is creating new parameters, one’s wide vision is embodied, new stakes are claimed, and new avenues created, and thus the human experience is given new expression, perhaps something more commensurate to the unprecedented times that they reflect. Sometimes the art doesn’t have to be political to be a response to the political; in times of tragedy it should be enough that the human soul is given recourse and refuge through simple expression.
The Krautrockers were the children of the Nazi generation, and as they grew up and were educated they had to negotiate an implicit distrust; they ‘had to find their own way.’ I hope that people of my generation and those younger folks coming of age right now, can take the detritus of this week, and these last four years, and figure out how to negotiate a better tomorrow.