Clubbers' Decktionary: Krautrock

  • The List
  • 3 August 2011


An introduction to Krautrock

Proper noun: eclectic style, originally German, mostly instrumental and usually combining a traditional rock band line-up (guitars, bass, drums) with electronic instruments; often characterised by a four-four time signature and stripped-back productions with the emphasis on the rhythm section employing mechanical, propulsive drum beats and repetitive bass phrases.

Origins The experimental classical works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, the loop experiments of La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich, the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler and the psychedelic traditions of the late 60s were all precursors to the ‘krautrock’ movement, 1968-1974. Initially operating completely independently of one another in Berlin, Cologne, Munich and the Wümme region, the bands infamously dubbed with this disparaging epithet by the British press (they preferred to talk about ‘kosmische musik’ themselves) were generally unified in their desire to break with the traditions and song structures of blues-based rock’n’roll, while retaining its energy. It was as much a reaction against the cultural void that existed in West Germany after the war as a rejection of British and American pop-cultural values, to express something uniquely German.

Key figures Can, Faust, Neu!, Amon Duul, Ashra Tempel, Popul Vuh, Kraftwerk, Kluster/Cluster and Tangerine Dream, half of whom at some point worked with celebrated Cologne-based producer/engineers Conny Plank and Dieter Dierks (formerly an actor, initially part of Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream and later behind Scorpions). John Peel was an invaluable supporter in terms of UK airplay and myriad contemporary acts have acknowledged the influence, including Radiohead, Stereolab, Deerhunter, The Horrors, Tortoise, The Mars Volta, Wilco, The Secret Machines, Mouse On Mars, Of Montreal, Fujiya & Miyagi and The Invisible. (

It’s pretty obscure but you might hear some krautrock at Hung Up, the Sub Club, Glasgow, weekly Sun.

NEU! - Hallogallo

CAN "Spoon"

Harmonia - Watussi

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