In 1978, German music began to change. The Krautrock era which began in 1969, had ended in 1977. There was then a shift more towards electronic music. This wasn’t new.
The Berlin School had been around since the early seventies. It was also a precursor of ambient music, and went on to influence future generations of ambient musicians. Among the founding fathers of the Berlin School were Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching. They began to pioneer electronic music in West Berlin. Over the next few years, they recorded some of the most important, influential and innovative electronic music of the seventies. Nothing however, lasted forever.
This included the Berlin School. Although it wasn’t quite ready to shut its doors, the classic period was over by late 1978. After this, German music would begin to evolve and reinvent itself. It was time for the musical baton to pass to a new generation of musicians.
Waiting in the wings, were a newly formed Düsseldorf band, Die Krupps. They were formed in 1980, just as the new decade dawned. The initial members of Die Krupps were Jürgen Engler, Bernward Malaka and Ralf Dörper. Together, they set out to create music that was new and innovative. This was a big challenge. However, Germany bands and musicians had been releasing groundbreaking music since 1969. This included Kraftwerk, Can, Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia, Popol Vuh Ash Ra and Tangerine Dream. Maybe Die Krupps would follow in their footsteps?
Not only did Die Krupps want to make new and innovative music, they wanted to make a type of music that had never been made before. It would have to be unorthodox and radical. To create this music, the members of Die Krupps looked to Germany’s recent musical past. They soon discovered Germany’s rich musical past, and discovered that they were following in the footsteps of other musicians who set out reinvent German music. Groups like Can, Cluster, Faust, Guru Guru, Kraftwerk and Neu! had all set out to do so, and succeeded. Now was the turn of Die Krupps.
Soon, Die Krupps were gaining a reputation locally as a pioneering, up-and-coming band. Die Krupps early music was atonal genre-melting music. It sounded as if Die Krupps had combined elements of avant-garde with experimental, free jazz, industrial and jazz. This musical potpourri was very different to what the new breed of German bands were making.
Already it seemed as if Die Krupps were trailblazers. This would prove to be the case, when Die Krupps released their debut album Stahlwerksynfonie (Steelworks Symphony) in June 1981.It was a fusion of industrial rock and Electronic Body Music.
Critics hailed Stahlwerksynfonie an innovative and influential album. Soon, it had become a musical phenomenon, which went on to inspire a generation of musicians. They were in thrall to what was regarded as a thirty-minute musical opus. Some critics even compared Stahlwerksynfonie with Cluster’s early albums. This was no surprise. Cluster’s early albums had been of Die Krupps’ reference points. So it was no surprise when these comparisons were made. However, this wasn’t the only similarly between Die Krupps and Cluster.
Both groups would go on to enjoy long careers, and would be hailed as musical pioneers. Die Krupps are still going thirty-six years later. Granted the lineup has changed over the years, but still, Die Krupps continue to play live and release new albums. Their most recent album is Stahlwerkrequiem which will be released by Bureau B, on 20th June 2016. Stahlwerkrequiem is a reworking of the album that launched the career of Die Kupps, Stahlwerksynfonie.
To record Stahlwerkrequiem, Jürgen Engler was joined by three musicians who inspired Die Krupps’ early music. These musicians just so happen to shared the same musical philosophy. This included Guru Guru’s founder and drummer Mani Neumeier. He’s joined by two members of another groundbreaking band, Faust. Drummer Zappi Diermaier and bassist Jean-Hervé Peron both played on Faust’s 1971 eponymous debut album. Joining these three veterans of German music, were two musicians from two generations.
The first was Kurt Dahlke aka Pyrolator. He joined Der Plan in 1979, and they became a musical contemporary of Die Kupps. Just like Kurt Dahlke, Jürgen Engler found himself following in the footsteps of groups like Guru Guru and Faust. However, Der Planb didn’t enjoy the same longevity as Guru Guru and Faust. Der Plan disbanded in 1993,and Pyrolator embarked upon a solo carer. Since then, he’s been work as an electronic musician and producer. However, by the time Pyrolator’s solo career began, guitarist Scott Telles’ career was blossoming.
His career began in 1980, when punk band Vast Majority released their debut single, Wanna Be A Number. Since then, Scott Telles has been a member of several bands. This includes, experimental space rocker ST 37, who were formed in 1987. They released their debut album The Invisible College in 1992. Since then, they’ve released around seventeen albums. However, when Scott Telles isn’t working with ST 37, he works on a variety of other side projects.
This includes post rockers My Education, who have released eight albums between 2001 and 2014. Scott Telles’ has also been a member of Bahrain, Moray Eels and Guru Freakout, which also featured Guru Guru drummer Mani Neumeier. They reunited for the recording of Die Krupps’ latest album Stahlwerkrequiem.
When recording of Stahlwerkrequiem began, Die Krupps’ lineup featured a rhythm section that included drummers Mani Neumeier and Zappi Diermaier; bassist Jean-Hervé Per and guitarist Scott Telles. They were joined by Pyrolator on synths and keyboards. Die Krupps’ founder Jürgen Engler added synths and guitar. This extended lineup of Die Krupps recorded two lengthy tracks, Stahlwerkrequiem/Rheinhausen and Stahlwerkrequiem/Westfalenhütte. The former was a twenty-three minute epic, while the latter lasted ‘just’ thirteen minutes. This was similar to Die Krupps had done, when they recorded Stahlwerksinfonie in 1981. Does Stahlwerkrequiem match the quality Stahlwerksinfonie? That’s what I’ll tell you, after I’ve told you about Stahlwerkrequiem.
Stahlwerkrequiem opens with Stahlwerkrequiem/Rheinhausen. Straight away, there’s an industrial sound, as metal is bashed and pounded. This is reminiscent of early Faust. Soon, a bass is plucked, before drums are joined by screaming, searing and blistering guitars. They head in the direction of free jazz, veering between discordant and strangely and satisfyingly melodic. In the background, the industrial sound is part of the musical landscape. A myriad of clinking, clanking and metallic sounds are added, while rocky guitars cut through the arrangement. Effects are added to the guitar while the all-star rhythm section nail the relentless, mesmeric and pounding beat. By then, the guitar solo is playing a starring role. A virtuoso performance is unleashed, and a dark, hypnotic bass helps power the arrangement along. By then, elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, industrial Krautrock, post rock, psychedelia and space rock have played their part in the story so far.
Later, drums and a scampering guitar join the bass as the industrial symphony unfolds. Sometimes, this industrial sound becomes futuristic, before guitars are thrashed and ring out. They’re at the heart of this epic track. So are the hypnotic rhythm section and the industrial sounds. What sounds like peels of bells ring out. However, they’re part of an arrangement that’s variously industrial, futuristic, melodic and mesmeric. The bass adds the mesmeric sound. It’s relentless, and continues to drive and power the arrangement along. Meanwhile, sounds assail the listener. They range from futuristic, sci-fi and otherworldly, to dark and dramatic, to industrial. That’s not forgetting a screeching, blistering guitar. It becomes part of a musical vortex, that assails the listeners as it whirls and soars around and above them. From there the guitars and electronics play leading roles. Chiming, driving, searing guitars join crackling, whirring, bristling, otherworldly sci-fi sounds. Adding the finishing touch are the myriad of metallic sounds. They play their part in a genre-melting epic.
Stahlwerkrequiem/Westfalenhütte closes Stahlwerkrequiem. The bass sound similar to the one on the previous track. It’s slow steady and provides the heartbeat. Soon, a myriad of sounds join hissing hi-hats and blistering, screeching, searing guitars. They kick loose, while the bass is still slow, steady and mesmeric. They’re like the tortoise and the hare. Meanwhile, effects are added to the guitars, they ring out, adding futuristic, otherworldly and post rock sounds. They sometimes sound as if they belong in a computer game. Later, electronics sounds are added, as guitars are pushed to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. They’re played quickly, confidently and flamboyantly. They bristle, scamper, reverberate and threaten to feedback. By then, an elegiac wash encircles the arrangement, as very briefly, the bass deviates from its course. It seems content to create the pulsating beat, and leave the flashy, flamboyant playing to others. This includes a guitar solo that’s unleashed at breakneck speed. Even the drums get in on the act. However, the last man standing is the bass. It continues to drive an arrangement that’s variously industrial, futuristic, otherworldly, robotic, dramatic and gloriously rocky along. Just like its predecessor, it features Die Krupps at their innovative best, pushing musical boundaries, before reaching an über rocky crescendo.
After just two lengthy tracks lasting thirty-seven minutes, Die Krupps exit stage left. They’ve achieved what they set out to do on Stahlwerkrequiem. That was rework their debut album Stahlwerksinfonie. It was released in 1981, and is regarded as a genre classic. Stahlwerksinfonie become a musical phenomenon, which went on to inspire a generation of musicians. They were in thrall to what was regarded as a thirty-minute musical opus. However, thirty-five years later, and Jürgen Engler decided to rerecord a new version of Stahlwerksinfonie. This became Stahlwerkrequiem, which will be released by Bureau B on 24th June 2016. Stahlwerkrequiem is an epic genre-melting album.
Die Krupps combine elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, industrial Krautrock, post rock, psychedelia and space rock on Stahlwerkrequiem. It’s a truly captivating and inspirational album, where musical and genres and influences melt into one.
Stahlwerkrequiem features blistering and breathtaking Hendrix inspired guitar solos. That’s not forgetting the influence of Frank Zappa, Lou Reed and Faustian industrial sounds. Then there’s the influence of Krautrock pioneers like Can, Neu! and Guru Guru.
Their influence can be heard throughout Stahlwerkrequiem. Especially Guru Guru, whose drummer Mani Neumeier features on Stahlwerkrequiem. So do Faust’s rhythm section of drummer Zappi Diermaier and bassist Jean-Hervé Peron. They add a relentless, mesmeric and hypnotic heartbeat to Stahlwerkrequiem. It’s a reminder of the glory days of Krautock. To that, Pyrolator and post rock guitarist Scott Telles set about helping Jürgen Engler set about what many people thought was impossible. That was creating an album that surpassed the quality of Stahlwerksinfonie.
With an all-star band accompanying him Jürgen Engler set about to create an album that was one of the biggest challenges of his long musical career. The result was Stahlwerkrequiem, a truly groundbreaking album of genre-melting music. Die Kupps took the listener on a journey though musical genres and influences. The music was veered between dark and dramatic, to elegiac and melodic, to futuristic and otherworldly. Other times, the music is hypnotic and mesmeric. Sometimes, the metallic and industrial sounds take a strangely melodic sound as they ring out. Always, the industrial and rocky sounds that are omnipresent throughout Stahlwerkrequiem play a leading role in the album’s sound and success.
They play starring roles throughout Stahlwerkrequiem, which is a musical Magnus Opus from Die Krupps. It will be released thirty-five years after Die Krupps released their genre classic Stahlwerksinfonie in 1981. This was the album that many felt that Die Krupps would never surpass. That was until Jürgen Engler decided the time was right record a new version of Stahlwerksinfonie. The resultant album, Stahlwerkrequiem surpasses Die Krupps’ debut album. With a few musical friends, Die Krupps created what is a truly groundbreaking genre-melting Magnus Opus Stahlwerksinfonie. It features Die Krupps doing what they’ve spent a lifetime doing, pushing musical boundaries to their limits and beyond on Stahlwerkrequiem, which is sure to influence and inspire a new generation of musicians.