Kraftwerk Cofounder Florian Schneider Dies at 73
— cofounder of German electronic-music pioneers , one of the most influential music groups of the past 50 years — has died, a rep for the group confirms to Variety. He was 73.
“Florian Schneider has passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday,” a statement from the group reads.
“In the year 1968 Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider started their artistic and musical collaboration. In 1970 they founded their electronic Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf [Germany] and started the multi-media project Kraftwerk. All the Kraftwerk catalogue albums were conceived and produced there. In 2014 Hütter and Schneider were honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.”
While Kraftwerk were recognized during their 1970s creative peak as an influential and pioneering outfit — particularly by David Bowie, who played the group’s “Radioactivity” album before his 1976 concerts and even wrote a tribute to the musician called “V2 Schneider” — their influence grew more and more apparent as synthesizers and other electronic instruments became prominent in popular music, particularly with the MTV-powered synth-pop wave of the early 1980s, driven by groups such as Depeche Mode and the Human League.
Throughout the 1970s, Kraftwerk increasingly embraced the mechanical sounds of much of their music and cultivated a tongue-in-cheek image of themselves as identical robots that has been often imitated, particularly by Daft Punk, perhaps the most obvious recent musical progeny.
Schneider, a native of Düsseldorf, cofounded the group with Ralf Hutter in 1970, and the two remained its primary creative directors for its peak creative years. While the group’s early recordings were inspired by psychedelic and avant-garde music and were vaguely in line with the early music of “Krautrock” groups like Can and Neu, Kraftwerk wholeheartedly embraced synthesizers and quickly and determinedly carved its own path. Early albums were more experimental, but with 1974’s galvanizing “Autobahn” album — an edit of its long title track, which comprised the entire first side of the vinyl album, received surprisingly significant radio play in the U.S. — the group’s electronic textures increasingly embraced deceptively simple, classically inspired melodies. While regarded even then as a rebellious, experimental, untraditional, almost anti-rock act, guitar and flute are both prominent in the group’s early recordings and the bandmembers sported beards and long hair.
Those aspects did not remain part of Kraftwerk’s oeuvre for long. The group trimmed their hair, began wearing matching outfits — evoking Weimar Germany-era styles — and began exclusively pursuing the electronic and melodic aspects of their sound.
More to come…
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