Despite being known mostly for minimalist electronic recordings existing in grey sterility, Kraftwerk actually began life composing music that one might consider to be rather more “fluid”.
Indeed, their performances sang notions of passionate krautrock as opposed to the stainless steel based electronic sounds the group developed during the recording of Radio-Aktivität and Trans-Europa Express.
Although Kraftwerk’s primary members, Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter started the group in 1970, they had previously spent three years together in a different group, called Organisation.
Hütter (an organist) and Schneider (a flautist, violin player and electronic tinkerer) joined with Basil Hammoudi, Butch Hauf and Alfred Mönicks to produce only a single album, Tone Float, in the summer of 1970 – by which time, the group had effectively disbanded.
By now, Kraftwerk were already a working unit led by Hütter and Schneider, although the duo were soon to be briefly joined by Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, during which Kraftwerk released their self-titled début long player.
Closer to musique-concrète than drone-rock, krautrock defied pop’s structural sensibilities and encapsulated numerous overlapping layers, long psychedelic jam sessions and progressive rock, before the latter genre degenerated into a pixie dream parody. To be fair, krautrock was also a UK tag that took pride in taking the piss out of West German rock musicians.
Unfortunately Tone Float has not been repressed since its original release – a crying shame, as it is quite a good body of work – and has become a heavily bootlegged recording as a result.
Tone Float carried five songs; however bootlegs have in recent years tagged a sixth track, a live version of “Vor dem vlauen Bock”, to the end of the album. Yet despite its place on the bootleg, Organisation never actually wrote or performed a song called “Vor dem vlauen Bock”.
Indeed “Vor dem vlauen Bock” was actually a live television performance on the enigmatic and brilliant show Beat Club in May 1971 by a youthful Kraftwerk, minus Hütter (who was off studying architecture, albeit temporarily).
Featuring just Schneider (flute / electronics), Rother (guitar) and Dinger (drums), the trio débuted a rather energetic piece entitled “Rückstoss Gondoliere”, which eventually made it onto the tail end of Tone Float bootlegs.
By the end of 1971, Dinger and Rother had departed the group to form Neu, while Hütter returned to the Kraftwerk fold in time record the group’s second album, Kraftwerk 2.