While it didn’t make more than a ripple in the commercial waters of 1970s American popular music, the subgenre known as krautrock would exert a significant influence on the music that followed in its wake. A wildly diverse array of bands based in what was then West Germany created compelling, innovative music that would inspire a generation of musicians across the globe. 1972 was a banner year for krautrock. These five albums helped lay a foundation for the style.
Neu! – Neu!
The insistent “motorik” character of Neu! is among the group’s most distinguishing features. Few bands have done so much with so little. Working closely with legendary producer Conny Plank, the duo of Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother created proto-punk that was equal parts powerful, hypnotic and innovative.
Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk 2
Emerging out of an avant garde/experimental outfit called Organisation, Kraftwerk evolved into a leader in synthesizer-based music. But on their hard-to-find early releases, the duo (Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben) didn’t use any synths. Their first two albums feature electric guitar, organ, piano, flute, xylophone and violin. But the music’s moody, ambient character hints at the direction they’d pursue on 1974’s groundbreaking Autobahn LP.
Cluster – Cluster II
Like Neu! And Kraftwerk, the 1972 lineup of Cluster (originally Kluster) was a duo, this time featuring electronica pioneers Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. And like those outfits, Cluster worked with producer Conny Plank to help realize their musical concepts. Space rock, new age and ambient music all owe a major debt to the soaring, sweeping textures of Cluster.
Amon Düül II – Wolf City
This pioneering rock band came out of the hippie communes of the late 1960s, splitting away from the art commune band Amon Düül (hence the “II”). Slightly more musically conventional, Amon Düül II was still wildly eclectic, making hard rock with strong elements of psychedelia. The long list of musicians that came and went form the band’s ranks contributed to its stylistic variety. The group’s fourth album, Wolf City was the latest in an impressive run of stellar releases that balanced melody with relentless experimentation.
Can – Ege Bamyasi
As odd as the music from Can tended to be – combining funk and avant garde textures and featuring a Japanese lead singer who vocalized more than sang – a track from their third studio album gained hit single status. “Spoon” catapulted Can into the big leagues… in Germany, anyway. Their influence can be heard in modern-day groups like Flaming Lips, among others.
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, is available now from HoZac Books. Read even more about him here.