Kraftwerk is the foundation upon which all synthesizer-based rock and roll and electronic dance music is built. Founded in Düsseldorf in 1970 by the band's two core members, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider, the group was a part of a new wave of musicians in Germany collectively referred to as Kosimsche Musik (cosmic music) who explored the intersection of rock and roll and the avant-garde. Their first three albums capture the sound of an experimental proto-punk jam band riffing on the sounds of Hawkwind and the Velvet Underground, but their fourth album Autobahn (1974) established the beginning of something entirely new (created with longtime friend and producer Konrad "Conny" Plank). The twenty-two minute title track combined the diverse influences of the Beach Boys and Karlheinz Stockhausen into the creation of an electronic musical odyssey. It also represented a miraculous use of technology through its amalgamation of Moog synthesizers, multi-track recording and traditional instrumentation. The 1977 album, Trans-Europe Express, completed Kraftwerk's transformation into a synthesized quartet. The album featured some of the funkiest grooves and vocoder melodies ever put on wax. New York City's burgeoning hip-hop community quickly latched on to the album and DJ Afrika Bambaataa based his track "Planet Rock" (1982) on Kraftwerk's beats. The years that followed secured Kratwerk's place as both musical innovators and master songwriters and the albums, The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981) and Electric Café (1986) established the blueprint for the sound and image of modern electronic music. Kraftwerk's influence can be heard in the synth-pop of Depeche Mode, the electronic-rock integration of U2 and the DJ/Laptop artist vibrations of Deadmau5 and Skrillex.
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