Early Kraftwerk, Part 3

The Hound of Music Examines Kraftwerk pt 3

Artist:  Kraftwerk

Title: 2 (s/t)

Released: 1972

Label: Philips (and various bootlegs)

Format: LP

Genre: kosmische / krautrock, electronic, experimental

Reviewing the first three Kraftwerk LPs isn’t terribly easy.  You cannot compare them to later releases and I can’t accurately compare them to other kosmische artists/bands, as I don’t have a very large collection of those releases.  This certainly has been an interesting ride.

Here, Schneider and Hutter are met with engineer Konrad Plank (of Moebius and Plank), technically giving us the same line up of sorts that would appear on the third LP, “Ralf and Florian.”

Right away, we open with a series of bells and chimes.  I swear this sounds familiar… did FSOL use this sample somewhere before?  As the chimes fade, a gentle flute, bass and synth piece flutters in.  It’s fairly mellow and reminds me a bit of the gentler side of the first album.  The song speeds up and slows down, as if some kid has their finger on the turntable, making this track very wobbly in a few spots.  This eventually gives way to some ultra-mellow synth and flute patterns before changing completely into a guitar track.  It’s as if there were four tracks built into this one, massive piece.

The final track on the A-side is “Atem.” It’s brief but packs a completely different feel that the previous track.  It’s like they recorded someone snoring and fed it through several distortion pedals.  It’s unsettling, but that’s the point.

Sibe B kicks off with “Strom.”  After some guitar twangs, the track begins to unfold, giving ths side of the record an entirely different feel than the A-side.  The organ patterns get some layering here, something that’s not really been done before from what I could on the previous LP.  The atmosphere gets quiet and chilled, and some taped strings make their way into the mix.  It’s a bit more obvious a technique than what had appeared prior, but it very much feels more technical.  “Strom” blends seamlessly into “Spule 4,” and honestly, you don’t notice the switch.  That’s a good thing, though; it gives this a more symphonic feel.

“Wellenlange” sounds like ti could be an early post-rock or even shoegaze track.  The guitar gets echoed  and the texture is very twangy.  It reminds me a lot of several modern guitar driven ambient/post rock albums; perhaps this was a very early prototype for the genres.  Over all, this track is amazingly relaxing.

Our final track, “Harmonika,” plays around with simple organ and synth harmonies.  It’s not very long, perhaps it could have been longer, but it’s not bad by any means.  It’s gentle and its simplicity makes it quite enjoyable.

Should you buy this record?  Again, since this recording hasn’t received an official reissue since 1972, prices for the original copy are very, very high.  Numerous bootlegs exist on CD and vinyl formats.  The most recent bootlegged version of the LP comes on a green vinyl, and the number “2” in the title is for some reason removed from the cover.  The bootlegs, for the most part, have been cheaper than the originals, but the buyer should be wary of those sellers trying to pass off bootlegs as originals and charging hundreds for it.

But, if you’re wondering if you really need this in your collection, then you should pursue it.  It feels like Kraftwerk were on the verge of something here.  It seems they were getting the grasp on some new studio techniques and were really working together on this one.  It feels like greater things are to come.  Fans of kosmische, ambient, rock and psyche might find this record to be enjoyable.  It certainly hints at all of those influences and gave birth to so much more of after the fact.  Go for it.

4.7 out of 5.

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About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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