Szyzygy's Blog

November 10, 2009

Thumbs up for Krautrock

In the wake of the ridiculous debacle which was Synth Britannia of a few weeks ago, by way of an act of contrition BBC 4 screened the almost exponentially more intelligent and engaging documentary, Krautrock: The Rebirth of Europe. Comparisons of this degree of magnitude are almost certainly invidious: if you must do reflective social and musical history, then this is indubitably the way to do it. Setting the socio-political context with a degree of nicety, the reaction against schlager and Anglo and American pop which was to ultimately become the zenith of industrial techno as personified in the form of Kraftwerk, the introduction sets out a far more compelling appraisal than was ever ventured in the totality of Synth Britannia. Wenders and Herzog, Baader and Meinhof. Fitzcarraldo. Checkpoint Charlie, the Vopos. All of these appeared within the first ten minutes or so, and none of them struck a false note.

Was British synth culture so much more vapid than the nascent German industrial techno culture? The answer is probably no and the richness of experience which was the documentary Krautrock, set against the echoing vacuity which was Synth Britannia, can only boil down to the fact that Ben Whalley, the maker of these two documentaries suffers from creative bipolarity of the sort heretofore only evidenced in Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde.  Even Karlheinz Stockhausen, that enfant terrible godfather of the world of experimental sound got a look in. Maybe he’d like to have another stab at Synth Britannia, doing it properly this time.

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