Album Review: “Autobahn” By Kraftwerk
Autobahn album cover - ik127 / Youtube
At the mention of electronic music, most people assume that the genre only came out sometime in the ’90s, with its alien, synthetic sound often associated with modernism and technology. But veterans know that this isn’t the case – Kraftwerk came in early to pave the way for electronic music to flourish. In their fourth album, Autobahn, Kraftwerk fully embraced the synthetic electronic sound they would be known for in the years to come without completely abandoning organic instrumentation.
The title track is widely considered to be the album’s best cut, with its 22-minute stretch full of electronica wonder. Referencing the German motorway system, “Autobahn” stays true to the theme with horns floating in the background and windy accents to replicate that thoroughfare vibe in the form of music. Its blunt simplicity and the recurring pattern is a make or break for some, but the former seems to be apparent. Once it was abridged, however, the song singlehandedly catapulted the band into international music fame.
Side two welcomes the listener with the two-part suite of “Kometenmelodie 1″ and “Kometenmelodie 2″, an ethereal composition that alludes to the bright heavenly body that makes rounds in the solar system occasionally. “Mitternacht” is quite a deviation from the soothing quality of the tracks before it, the post-apocalyptic theme running just along the verge of revealing its intention, but cut short as “Morgenspaziergang” enters the fray. The closing number has a nature-like vibe to it, counteracting the previous track again with its unique organic feel.
For enthusiasts and non-fans alike, Autobahn is a great way to summarize Kraftwerk’s musical prowess – as well as the direction that electronic music was guided by the pioneering act.