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Kraftwerk: The real granddaddy of all electronic music. Their synthesizers produce oodles of Germanic musical order and discipline on their 1977 classic, Trans-Europe Express. This only makes sense given it was produced in Germany while the country was split in two by heavy-handed superpowers with nothing but control in mind.

I sort of imagine the four Dapper Dan’s from the album art in a monstrous and dreary factory manipulating huge steam engines, gears and pulleys galore.  Through a fantastic ballet of these machines arise the sounds of Trans-Euro Express.  Suddenly a huge funnel drops from the ceiling to capture the sound waves swirling through the air.  Once collected they drain into a locomotive-sized hydraulic press and  are smooshed out onto black vinyl discs. All of this, of course, is metered by the tick of a 10-meter Tag Heuer clock keeping watch from the front of the beat factory. Phew!

Anyway, from the suppressed, mechanical order of 1977 West Germany emerged chaotic sampling, tweaking, spanking, and milking from any number of groups that still continues to this day. Keen listeners are bound to still find bits and pieces of these tracks all over the acoustic realm. It all started full steam with Afrika Bambaataa’s utterly bodacious track “Planet Rock” that rips the heart out of Kraftwerk’s title track “Trans-Europe Express”. It used a blatant and undeniable copy of the chorus melody, which was a big no-no back in 1982 and led to an out of court settlement between the groups’ representatives. However, I’m sure glad it occurred because without that eletro-pickpocketing “Planet Rock” wouldn’t exist and that’d be a damn shame.

Turn off annotations for the first video (click the little box in the right corner)

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of samples from this album in other songs.  I’d love to hear from you on which songs you know that sample Kraftwerk’s gem.  Or you can send me a copy of a song you’ve made using bits and pieces of Trans-Europe Express.  Either way I’d love to hear from you on the comment section.

Download link TEMPORARILY down.

As a side note, Kraftwerk supplies the music for the title screen on the old SNL skit Sprockets (for anyone who still remembers this bit).  Ist Max Dancishkaner, ja.