Whenever the subject of music videos comes up in conversation there will always be showers of people who speak warmly of the likes of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel and (maybe) to a lesser extent “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads.
While these are all indeed wonderful pieces of work, they’re not the ones that are ever first in my mind.
Simply because in 1986 when I was 5 years old Kraftwerk released the single “Musique Non-Stop” to precede their ninth studio album, Electric Cafe – it was a video that scared the living shit out of me.
The strange thing is I only ever saw once and only got a repeat viewing earlier this year and it still creeps me out to a degree.
I may never forget this night as long as I live.
It was a Saturday evening and I was in the kitchen – the parents had gone out for the night and I was being babysat by my oldest sister who was in the next room (with current boyfriend, etc…).
The television was on MTV (back when they used to play music) and I was under strict orders not to interfere (for want of a better word) with my siblings’… eh… studying.
It was approximately 8.30pm when “Musique Non-Stop” came on, but having never really paid attention to music television before and being in a position where I couldn’t reach the television (I’ll one-day tell the story of how I broke a TV when I was 2 years-old), I just sat and watched and nearly wet myself as a result.
There are memories of how the song felt like it was 10 and-a-half minutes long as I belted from one side of the room to another trying to ignore the television, but the images of computer generated faces – so lifeless and blank – and a sound so cold and lacking in human feeling has stayed with me ever since.
I can only compare to the first time you see a genuinely creepy movie (2001: A Space Odyssey still freaks me out to a degree – it’s all in the silence) and get that cold feeling down your spine – oh how difficult it becomes to sit straight.
I’ve a thing for Kraftwerk – admittedly much of their later material never matched the quality of their pre-1986 output, but no one can possibly deny the influence that they have had on electronic music in the last 40-ish years.
Autobahn, Trans-Europe Express and Computer World are all classic albums that need to be heard to understand the shift from pre-1970’s electro-mechanical music to electronica and while Electric Cafe never attained the critical attention of its predecessor’s, it still stands as a fine selection of mid-80’s electronic music.