West Germany after World War II was a country in shock: estranged from its recent history, and adrift from the rest of Europe. But this orphaned landscape proved fertile ground for a generation of musicians who, from the 1960s onwards, would develop the strange and beautiful sounds that became known as Krautrock.
Eschewing the easy pleasures of rock and roll and the more substantive seductions of blues and jazz, they took their inspiration from elsewhere: the mysticism of the East; the fractured classicism of Stockhausen; the grinding repetition of industry; the dense forests of the Rhineland; the endless winding of Autobahns.
Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül II, Can—the influence of these groups’ music on Western popular music is incalculable. They were key to the development of movements ranging from post-punk to electronica and hip-hop and have directly inspired artists as diverse as David Bowie, Talking Heads, and LCD Soundsystem.
Future Days is the brilliantly reported, deeply researched story of the groups that created Krautrock, and a social and cultural history of the Germany that challenged, inspired, and repelled them.
David Stubbs is an author and music journalist whose work has appeared in the The Times (London), The Sunday Times, Spin, The Guardian and GQ, and his books include Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko but Don’t Get Stockhausen.
The interview with David Stubbs was originally recorded on October 8, 2015.