FACTBOX: Ten of Germany's leading "Krautrock" bands

Wed Oct 1, 2008 12:43am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The wave of experimental music that began emerging from West Germany in the late 1960s known as "Krautrock" has long enjoyed great influence abroad yet often been overlooked at home. This is now changing.

Following is an overview of ten of the leading bands.

AGITATION FREE - The West Berliners specialized in experimental improvisations incorporating psychedelia and Middle Eastern influences on their two original studio albums. "We got bored of covering songs pretty quickly, and we couldn't do them as well as the originals anyway, so we quickly developed our own style. I think (1968) was a watershed (for self-expression), but it also had to with drugs. I fear it's not so special to make music today for (young bands). Everything is about money now" -- guitarist Lutz Ulbrich.

AMON DÜÜL II - Built around a group of musicians in a Munich commune, Amon Düül II released a series of records ranging from searing garage psychedelia to extended folk-tinged mantras.

"We saw things couldn't continue as they were (in society). In time, the movement was commercialized, and once that happens, death is never far away. There were many more people who could create then. There are plenty now too, but they've got computers which can copy everything for them" -- guitarist John Weinzierl.

ASH RA TEMPEL - Famed for the monumental scope of their explosive and haunting soundscapes, the short-lived instrumental trio featured drummer and electronic pioneer Klaus Schulze. Guitarist Manuel Goettsching later went solo and was hailed as a seminal influence on techno for his 1981 recording "E2-E4."

CAN - Cologne-based Can combined insistent, stripped-down rhythms with innovative editing and use of samples. Original U.S. singer Malcolm Mooney left in 1970 to be replaced by Japanese Damo Suzuki, who was discovered busking in Munich.

"Although (keyboard player) Irmin Schmidt and I had studied (under Karlheinz Stockhausen), we had real trouble counting to four. In that sense Can was an extremely bad band to begin with. We only learnt over time. We had what the English called this 'Teutonic rhythm' -- a machine that became unstoppable once it got going. (For us) to do something that no one had done before...meant musicians coming together and leaving behind them what they had done until then" -- bassist Holger Czukay.

CLUSTER - Formed from the ashes of Kluster, a trio that included experimental maverick Conrad Schnitzler, the electronica of duo Cluster ranged from cavernous minimalism to early synthpop. The pairing of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius later formed Harmonia with Michael Rother of Neu!.   Continued...