Europe Non-Stop: West Germany, Britain and the Rise of Synthpop 1975-1981

Sean Albiez

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    In histories of popular electronic music, Kraftwerk are rightly identified as key innovators and "godfathers" of several electronic music genres that developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s; techno in Detroit, electro/hip-hop in New York and other American urban centres, the European electronic body of music of D.A.F and Liaisons Dangereuses, and electronic dance music that has developed from these forms since the late 1980s. However, in the context of British synthpop/rock in the post-punk era, a precursor to and important influence on many of these styles, there was a more complex relationship with West German music that moved beyond Kraftwerk. In the 1975-81 period Neu!, La Düsseldorf, Harmonia, Cluster, solo releases by Michael Rother and the production work of Conny Plank inspired British synthpop/rock artists to embrace new musical vistas that led to the eventual emergence of synthpop. Between West German and British musicians a trans-European sonoscape was forged that explored experimental electronic sound within the context of a radical reinvention of Anglo- American rock music. As a result, the British synthpop/rock of Ultravox, Gary Numan and Simple Minds, and the closely ensuing synthpop of, for example, Depeche Mode and Soft Cell, saw musicians averting their gaze from the musical and cultural iconography of the United States in the embrace of a new European aesthetic. Of these artists, Numan and Depeche Mode played an important role in inspiring later electronic popular music - a role often solely placed at the door of Kraftwerk's Kling Klang studio.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationKraftwerk
    Subtitle of host publicationMusic Non-Stop
    EditorsSean Albiez, David Pattie
    PublisherBloomsbury Continuum
    ISBN (Print)9781441165077
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2011


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