Does your band use a synthesizer? Well, here are the guys you have to thank for that. By no means were they the first to use the instrument, nor did they start its popularity, but they made it resonant, feasible, and interesting as a sonic investment. (However, their earlier dabblings with the instrument are among the earliest ever attempted.) Along with the novel conceptual factor of dehumanizing themselves completely, these four German fellows basically dictated the entire future of digital music by letting their machines do the talking. Countless DJs and dance-pop stars thereafter would do the same, eliminating the creativity factor, but by that point it was just obnoxious.
Kraftwerk’s stroke of genius was bringing classical modality and conceptual elements into the realm of rock, and a neomodern ideology to accompany them. Everything on this LP is enormously influential, but the side-long title track is a particular highlight. It’s essential listening. The second side forms a semi-conceptual suite about astral bodies and the sun rising. It’s quite moody and wonderful. Basically, the future is here, and it arrived in 1974.
Key track: “Autobahn”
See also: Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk (1977), The Man-Machine – Kraftwerk (1978)