So you’ve seen the list of 11 krautrock albums, as suggested by the likes of The Horrors’ Tomethy Furse and Benjamin Curtis of School Of Seven Bells, in this week’s issue of NME and, as well as “why 11?” (we got carried away, OK?), you’re thinking, “I can’t afford 11 albums!”. Well, here’s a playlist of the best tracks taken from them so you can navigate your way along the autobahn…
1. Neu! - ‘Hallogallo’
(‘Neu!’, Brain, 1972)
The 10-minute introduction to the motorik beat, as laid down by Neu! drummer Klaus Dinger. Its machine-like precision is shot through with a very human warmth.
2. Neu! - ‘Fur Immer’
(‘Neu! 2', Brain, 1973)
Essentially ‘Hallogallo’ part two, just more expansive and even longer. Tomethy Furse: “‘Fur Immer’ is a masterpiece and one of my favourite records to play when DJing. It’s true psychedelic punk with layers upon layers of sound and rhythm.”
3. Harmonia – 'Watussi'
(‘Musik Von Harmonia’, Brain, 1974)
Michael Rother’s supergroup with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius of Cluster made much softer, more organic music. The ace opener from their debut is sampled by Engineers on their forthcoming single ‘Clean Coloured Wire’.
4. Cluster - ‘Caramel’
(‘Zuckerzeit’, Brain, 1974)
For a genre that’s lauded as intelligent, thoughtful and artfully constructed, this track from Cluster’s classic third album (produced by Neu!’s Michael Rother) is simple, fun and spectacularly dumb.
5. Neu! – 'Hero'
(‘Neu! 75’, Brain, 1975)
The late, great Klaus Dinger’s proto-punk shoutathon from Neu!’s final album. Its nihilistic lyrics (“Fuck your business, fuck the press/Fuck the bourgeoisie, fuck the bourgeoisie/Your only trial is money”) basically invented Johnny Rotten’s entire persona.
6. La Düsseldorf - ‘La Düsseldorf’
(‘La Düsseldorf’, Decca, 1976)
“That’s the jam!” exclaims Benjamin Curtis, and he’s not wrong. Klaus Dinger’s post-Neu! band perfected this kind of punk disco hybrid that is essentially LCD Soundsystem 30 years too early. Amazing.
7. Can - ‘Halleluwah’
(‘Tago Mago’, United Artists, 1971)
This song might go on for about three days, but it’s not a second too long. It’s effortlessly funky and spectacularly weird, “like The Meters playing avant-garde music” according to Julian Cope. Without it there would be no Happy Mondays (they even nicked the title), no ‘Fools Gold’, no ‘Kill All Hippies’…
8. Can - ‘Vitamin C’
(‘Ege Bamyasi’, United Artists, 1972)
For Can this is essentially a pop song, but it’s still very odd. Damo Suzuki repeats the line “You’re losing, you’re losing your vitamin C” over Jaki Liebezeit’s fearsome drum break which has been sampled by numerous hip-hoppers over the years.
9. Faust -‘It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl’
(‘Faust So Far’, Polydor, 1972)
Thundering caveman drumming, Velvets-style guitars and droning incantations equals perfection. This song is so good, even a saxophone solo can’t ruin it.
10. Tangerine Dream - ‘Rubycon Part Two’
(From ‘Rubycon’, Virgin, 1975)
This was another of Benjamin Curtis’ choices for the playlist and there are only two tracks on it. Part two is where the sequencers and synths start bubbling over brilliantly.
11. Conrad Schnitzler - ‘Das Tier’
(‘Con 3’, Sky, 1981)
According to Tomethy Furse of The Horrors, it’s “a mass of mad electronics and analogue sequencers – ‘Das Tier’ is NDW of the very highest calibre”.