Paying tribute to the late and great father of techno pop Florian Schneider
With great sadness, the passing of Florian Schneider was announced this week after a battle with Cancer.
Co-founder of the genius German electronic experimentalist outfit Kraftwerk, it’s hard to understate their influence on the world of music. He not only helped revolutionise popular music as we know it. The list of artists and musicians who are in many respects indebted to Kraftwerk’s sound and ideas in some shape or form include David Bowie, Depeche Mode, New Order, The Orb, Afrika Bambaataa, Juan Atkins, Underworld and Daft Punk. Kraftwerk paved the way for whole new genres under the respective banners of synth-pop, hip-hop, electronica and techno: proving in the process that machines really could have soul.
A classically trained musician, Schneider started to make his mark at the end of the 60s, teaming up with Ralf Hütter in Düsseldorf to form Organisation in 1968. The duo would soon change their name to record their debut albums with the assistance of legendary Krautrock producer Conrad Plank. After Schneider bought his first synthesizer in 1970, the electronic influence and sound grew in importance, ultimately leading to Kraftwerk’s 1974 breakthrough album ‘Autobahn’. An album that crossed over internationally as well as making the charts in the USA and UK. Their reach was such that David Bowie named a song ‘V-2 Schneider’ on his 1977 album ‘Heroes’.
Even if you only consider Kraftwerk’s output of the 70s and 80s, their influence stretched way beyond a cluster of six albums, as a whole new popular music universe opened up. They found fans in the unlikeliest of places, one of the band’s earliest champions in the urban black American community was a South Bronx DJ called Afrika Bambaataa. He soon realised the potential of this ‘weird funky crazy mechanical crazy shit’. Along with John Robie and Arthur Baker, they plotted a course that would take the klang from the German industrial heartlands and remodel ‘Numbers’ and ‘Trans Europe Express’ into the block busting beats of ‘Planet Rock’. Equally championed by Detroit’s infamous radio DJ Electrfyin’ Mojo, the pulsating Germanic rhythms were beamed into the homes of techno pioneers Juan Atkins and Derrick May – the rest is history as they say.
To honour the passing of such a stellar talent, we’ve picked out our own pieces from their rich history to give a sense of their evolution and achievement: