by Justin Farrar | July 3, 2013
Krautrock, Kosmische Musik, German progressive rock ... they're just different ways to categorize all the incredible (and oftentimes totally far out) rock music that emerged from Germany between the years 1968 and '81. At this point in history, the movement's progenitors -- Kraftwerk and Can, Faust and Cluster, Neu! and Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh and Amon Düül II -- need very little introduction. Their profound influence on everything from alternative rock to electronic music to even New Age has been extremely well documented in the intervening decades.
But while this Krautrock 101 playlist contains cuts from each of these artists, it also includes vital music from many of the movement's less celebrated entities. What's interesting to note about obscure groups such as A.R. & Machines, Agitation Free and Brainticket is just how idiosyncratic their visions really were; Agitation Free, for example, don't even sound like Krautrock, as they were far more influenced by the lysergic jamming of both The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead. Likewise, A.R. & Machines' 1971 masterpiece Die Grüne Reise -- which really is one of Krautrock's great works -- has more in common with the British psychedelia of The Pretty Things (as well as the surreal pop then emerging from Brazil's Tropicália scene). And then there's the later-period output of Deutsche Wertarbeit and Harald Grosskopf -- all of it almost completely electronic, with very little rock influence to be detected.
One more thing: No talk of Krautrock is complete without a tip of the hat to the late Conny Plank. Considering the absolutely innovative producer and sound engineer recorded a good portion of the artists in this playlist, he can be considered the movement's one true father.