Sunday, January 10, 2016

Book: David Brooks - Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music (Melville House, 2015)

To the everlasting hatred of the musicians, the cheeky British music press dubbed the experimental German progressive rock of the 1960's and 70's "krautrock" and the name has stuck to this day. For a generation of young Germans growing up in the shadow of the atrocities of the Nazis, they looked for any way to make their own statement, whether radical politics, communal living or making their own original music that rejected both the schlock that was on the pop charts and the Anglo-American music that dominated the the rock scene. The bands were similar in their mission, but quite different in their approach. Amon Duul II grew out of a cult like commune to make swirling psychedelic music over a series of sprawling double albums that found some traction in the USA through the enthusiasm of eccentric rock critic Lester Bangs. Can brought together the influences of experimental classical music and free jazz to form a hypnotic groove with their classic early albums given the jump starts of African-American and Japanese vocalists. Perhaps the best know group is Kraftwerk who gradually moved from being a flute and electronics experimental group, to one that embraced the computer age in all its complexity. One of the most intriguing groups is Faust, which was a porto-industrial unit that used found objects, farm equipment and pinball machines to make alternately fascinated and perplexed audiences and drove record labels to frustration. There is a section on a the wild Ohr record that would do anything to try to gain publicity for their bands from staging oddball press events to bombarding audiences with noise. Stubbs certainly did his homework, using a very large and wide ranging variety of sources including original interviews, but if anything it is a little too much and the sheer amount of information he throws at you is overwhelming. He writes well and his research is superb, but the narrative becomes monotonous at times and at nearly 500 pages it really begins to become fatiguing. Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music -

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