Kraftwerk Symposium @ Electri_City Conference, Düsseldorf

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The three-day conference organised by Rudi Esch following on from “Electri_City”, his best-selling oral history of the electronic music scene of Düsseldorf, was a resounding success, attracting several hundred visitors. The first day was devoted to a symposium on Kraftwerk that was organised by our music expert Uwe Schütte.

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Featuring speakers from both Britain and Germany, it explored various aspects of the seminal band’s  history and music. The audience included scholars from Germany, the English-speaking world and beyond, as well as enthusiasts of electronic music. This included Claudia Schneider-Esleben, the sister of Kraftwerk core member Florian Schneider, and Ralf Dörper, keyboard player and founding member of Die Krupps & Propaganda, as well as several people who had also attended the conference at Aston Earlier this year.

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Following the academic part, the was a Q & A session with Peter Hook, formerly of Manchester bands Joy Division and New Order. Hook talked about the great influence of German electronic music and Kraftwerk in particular during his formative years as a musician. During the evening, there was a concert by Heaven 17 and a DJ set from Mute label founder Daniel Miller.

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The second day was devoted to Düsseldorf bands other than Kraftwerk and again featured papers in both German and English. Again, academics who had already presented papers at Aston, such as Stephen Mallinder (formerly of Sheffield industrial pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, now a lecturer at Brighton University) and David Stubbs, made an appearance. Highlight of the day were the evening concerts by Mallinder’s new band Wrangler, and by Michael Rother, a founding member of Kraftwerk and Neu!.

 

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For the third day, proceedings moved to the spacious Düsseldorf Conference Centre. The programme featured Aston Kraftwerk conference stalwarts such as the unstoppable Rusty Egan (Visage) but also a number of important musicians such as Gabi Delgado (from Düsseldorf electronic punk duo DAF) or Andy McCluskey (OMD). Highlight of this day was the visit to the formerly secret Kling-Klang Studio in Düsseldorf’s red-light district, where Kraftwerk recorded most of their albums from the early 1970s to about 2008.

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Based on the success of the event, opportunities for a follow-on conference next year on the more recent musical developments in Düsseldorf, including bands such as Kreidler or Mouse on Mars, are being explored,  and plans were laid for formalising this field of research into an International Research Network.

Following are more pictures from the event, mostly taken by Markus Luigs.

 

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Rudi Esch in conversation with Ralf Dörper (Die Krupps / Propaganda)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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David Pattie talking about early Kraftwerk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aston logo at the Düsseldorf Conference Centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Krautrock legend Michael Rother at panel discussion       prior to his great concert.

 

 

 

 

 

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Uwe Schütte on the phone of the legendary Kling-Klang Studio – but no Ralf Hütter calling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alexei Monroe during his presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uwe Schütte on Morrissey’s debut novel “List of the Lost”

Our resident literary critic Uwe Schütte has just published a full-page review of “List of the Lost”, the debut novel by indie music hero Morrissey (formerly of The Smiths).

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It has appeared in SPEX, Germany’s leading music magazine. While essentially all critics in the Anglophone world dismissed Morrissey’s book as a failure, Uwe points to a hidden subtext, linking the story of four student relay runners to gnostic thinking. As he argues in his review, it is only when reading the novel within this framework (which other critics failed to identify) that the story begins to make proper sense.

You can read his review, entitled “Penis und Schwert”, here.

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(Illustration: Matt Blease/The Guardian)

Kraftwerk conference time again….

Following the great success of January’s conference on Kraftwerk at Aston, Uwe Schütte has been invited to organise another one-day symposium on the German electronic music heroes. This time it will take place from 29 – 31 October at the place where it all began – the city of Düsseldorf.

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The conference, which will feature papers in both German and English, is part of the 3-day “Electri_City – Electronic Music from Düsseldorf” event organised by Rüdiger Esch. In addition to academic papers, there is also an exciting programme featuring bands, DJ sets and panel discussions. Among the artists appearing and performing will be Peter Hook (ex New Order), Steve Mallinder (ex-Cabaret Voltaire) with his great new band Wrangler, Andy McCluskey (OMD), Heaven 17, DJ Rusty Egan and more. The highlight will be a concert by Michael Rother playing material from his former bands, the legendary Neu! and Harmonia.

More info here.

Test Dept symposium a great success

The launch of the Test Dept book attracted about 40 visitors to Aston. The audience heard five speakers from various UK universities talking about the band.

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Apart from a Q&A panel with original band members Paul Jamrozy and Graham Cunnington, the highlight of the event was the talk by Stephen Mallinder, formerly frontman of Cabaret Voltaire. His presentation about the role of radical music during the Thatcher years was accompanied by a slide show including a number of iconic images and photographs.

 C360_2015-05-28-16-23-25-854There was also an after event party at Vividworks wich was well attended. It included DJ sets from Test Dept, Stephen Mallinder and Alexei Monroe.

Test Dept book launch 28 May

Straying a little from our usual focus on German music, the German section is proud to host the Midlands launch of “Total State Machine”, a fantastic new volume documenting the work of seminal English industrial band Test Dept.

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You can find more info on the event, which will be opened with welcome address by our colleague Uwe Schütte, by visiting the event page.

The event is free but requires registration.

You can also watch a video or visit the publisher’s website.

 

Uwe Schütte on Ian Curtis “So This Is Permanence”

Our colleague Uwe Schütte has published a comprehensive review essay on So This Is Permanence, a beautiful collection of handwritten song lyrics and notes by the late Ian Curtis. The singer of Manchester band Joy Division committed suicide aged 23, at the eve of the his band’s first tour of the USA. You can listen to a Spotify playlist of Joy Division’s music here.

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Uwe’s piece appeared as the cover story of the leading German-language literature magazine “Volltext” and you can read an excerpt here.