At the forefront of pre-Throbbing Gristle
industrial music was Kraftwerk
, prior to going mainstream with Autobahn
. Today when we think "industrial," we think of Skinny Puppy
, Nine Inch Nails
, and Ministry
, but before Genesis P-Orridge
came along and made industrial
the growling, noizy ultra-punk that it was, "industrial" simply meant inspired by the modern noises of machines
and the monolithic technological
landscapes of industrial towns. So while Kraftwerk 2
certainly has its share of scary clanging and ambience, it's also inclusive of things like gentle flute
solos and strumming acoustic
guitars. Of course, those instruments
are incorporated in a way unlike anything most of us have ever heard, but they are there.
It's a groundbreaking album, but one that has very little to do with the highly influential robo-pop of Kraftwerk's later years. While Tangerine Dream was noodling with fascinating new synth melodies and Walter Carlos was updating the classics, Kraftwerk was making sounds that no one had ever heard before, to make songs which avoided anything resembling standard structure. Other than Stockhausen, it's hard to put an influence to this album's sound. Even today this would be considered a fascinating ambient album; it's eccentricity makes it timeless, but the "1971" stamped on the record still boggles the mind.
What a strange sight it must have been to see Ralf and Florian sitting speechless across from each other in a barren room, playing instruments both very old and very new, trying to forge a new sound for their depressed postwar nation. They would go on to find this new sound, in a simple song about driving down the highway.