Like its predecessor (similarly designed right down to the traffic cone cover, though green instead of red), Kraftwerk 2 has never been properly re-released, giving it the same lost-classic aura as the first album, or at least lost, period. Thankfully, bootleg reissues in 1993 restored it to wider public listening; even more so than Kraftwerk 1, its lack of official reappearance is a mystery, in that the band is clearly well on its way to the later Kraftwerk sound of fame. Stripped down to the Hütter/Schneider duo for this release, and again working with Conrad Plank as coproducer and engineer (this album alone demonstrates his ability to create performances combining technological precision and warmth), Kraftwerk here start exploring the possibilities of keyboards and electronic percussion in detail. Given that the band's drummers were gone, such a shift was already in the wind, but it's the enthusiastic grappling with drum machines and their possibilities that makes Kraftwerk 2 noteworthy.
What might have been simply seen as an agreeable enough debut album has since become something of a notorious legend because Kraftwerk, or more accurately the core Hütter/Schneider duo at the heart of the band, simply refuses to acknowledge its existence any more. What's clearly missing from Kraftwerk is the predominance of clipped keyboard melodies that later versions of the band would make their own. Instead, Kraftwerk is an exploratory art rock album with psych roots first and foremost, with Conny Plank's brilliant co-production and engineering skills as important as the band performances. Still, Hütter and Schneider play organ and "electric percussion" – Hütter's work on the former can especially be appreciated with the extended opening drone moan of the all-over-the-place "Stratovarius" combined with Schneider's eerie violin work. But it's a different kind of combination and exploration, with the key pop sugar (and vocal work) of later years absent in favor of sudden jump cuts of musique concrète noise and circular jamming as prone to sprawl as it is to tight focus.
A concept album exploring themes of broadcast communications, Radio-Activity marked Kraftwerk's return to more obtuse territory, extensively utilizing static, oscillators, and even Cage-like moments of silence to approximate the sense of radio transmission; a pivotal record in the group's continuing development, the title track – the first they ever recorded in English – is their most fully realized electro-pop effort to date, while "The Voice of Energy" precipitates the robot voice so crucial to their subsequent work.
Kraftwerk 2 is the second studio album by German electronic band Kraftwerk, released in January 1972. Kraftwerk 2 was entirely written and performed by founding Kraftwerk members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in late 1971, with the sessions produced by the influential Konrad "Conny" Plank. No material from this album has been performed in the band's live set since the Autobahn tour of 1975, and to date, the album has not been officially reissued on compact disc.
Kraftwerk is the first album by Kraftwerk. It was released in Germany in 1970, and produced by Konrad "Conny" Plank. No material from this album has been performed in the band's live set since the Autobahn tour of 1975, and to date, the album has not been officially reissued on compact disc. The band are seemingly reluctant to consider it a part of their canon – Schneider in later interviews referred to the first three Kraftwerk albums as "archaeology".