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14 September 2022

Karl Bartos Of Kraftwerk: “It Was Not The Machines That Wrote Our Songs”

Karl Bartos
Karl Bartos (second left) with Kraftwerk, 1976/Alamy
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Karl Bartos is interviewed in the new issue of Prog Magazine about his time in Kraftwerk. Bartos was a percussionist, keyboard player, composer and one of the key members of Kraftwerk between 1975 and 1991 and has written about it in his new book, The Sound Of The Machine.

Talking about credit that should be given to the band’s 70s purple patch, Bartos said, “Our potential with the classic line-up was already far greater than the digital substitute has achieved today. For true artistic success, my ex-partners would have to overcome their egoism, because now it’s becoming clear that it was not the machines that wrote our songs. It wasn’t the brand name either. It was us, the people. What a surprise!”

Bartos was humble when discussing Kraftwerk’s influence, saying, “The invention of Kraftwerk was really the aestheticisation of technology. We didn’t invent the Eiffel Tower, we just showed how it was built; you can see the steel statics and nothing is hidden. I would say one of the most important, overlooked things about Kraftwerk is that we didn’t invent the geography, of the mathematics, or the music or whatever; the grammar was invented before, by somebody else, but if you put the rhythms created by a jazz drummer or a pop drummer into the electronic environment, something changes.”

He went on to discuss the influence of Pink Floyd and The Doors on his time in Kraftwerk, “In my autobiography, I talk about the touchpoints of Pink Floyd. From my point of view, Richard Wright’s setup and his way of playing the keyboard was a great template for my former partner. Ray Manzarek was also an important figure. If you want to delve deeper, you should analyse Pink Floyd’s work… I would say that On The Run, Astronomy Domine and Echoes were more than an inspiration.”

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