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Krautrock (also called kosmische Musik, German for "cosmic music" is a broad genre of experimental rock that developed in West Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s among artists who blended elements of psychedelic rock, electronic music, and avant-garde composition among other sources. These artists moved away from the blues influences and song structure found in traditional Anglo-American rock music, instead utilizing hypnotic rhythms, tape-music techniques, and early synthesizers. Prominent groups associated with the krautrock label included Neu!, Can, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh, Amon Düül II and Harmonia.

The term was popularized by British music journalists, who adopted the term "krautrock" as a humorous umbrella-label for the diverse German scene, though many so-labeled artists disliked the term. The movement was partly born out of the radical student movements of 1968, as German youth rebelled against their country's legacy in World War II and sought a popular music distinct from traditional German music and American pop. The period contributed to the development of ambient music and techno, and influenced subsequent genres such as post-punk, new-age music, and post-rock.

Origin of the name

It is based on the ethnic slur "Kraut", which refers to "a German person" (and is derived from the name of the German pickled cabbage dish sauerkraut), and was coined by the music press in Great Britain, where "krautrock" found an early and enthusiastic underground following. BBC DJ John Peel in particular is largely credited with spreading the reputation of krautrock outside of the German-speaking world. As the popularity and influence of these groups has grown, the term "krautrock" has become generally accepted in the English-speaking world, and is more a simple descriptor than an insult.

Kosmische Musik

Kosmische Musik ("cosmic music") is a term which came into regular use before "krautrock" and was preferred by some German artists who disliked the English label; today, it is often used synonymously with krautrock. More specifically, it may describe 1970s German electronic music which uses synthesizers and incorporates themes related to space or otherworldliness; it is also used as a German analogue to the English term "space rock". The style was often instrumental and characterized by "spacy", ambient soundscapes. Artists used synthesizers such as the EMS VCS 3 and Moog Modular, as well as sound processing effects and tape-based approaches. They largely rejected rock music conventions, and instead drew on "serious" electronic compositions.

The term "kosmische Musik" was coined either by Edgar Froese in the liner notes of Tangerine Dream's 1971 album Alpha Centauri or by record producer Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser as a marketing name for bands such as Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, and Klaus Schulze. The following year, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser's Ohr Records released the compilation Kosmische Musik (1972) featuring tracks by Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel, and Popol Vuh. Kaiser eventually began referring to the style as "cosmic rock" to signify that the music belonged in a rock idiom. German producer Conny Plank was a central figure in the kosmische sound, emphasizing texture, effects processing, and tape-based editing techniques. Plank oversaw kosmische recordings such as Kraftwerk's Autobahn, Neu!'s Neu! 75, and Cluster's Zuckerzeit.

Several of these artists would later distance themselves from the term. Other proposed names for the style at the time were "Berlin School" and "Dusseldorf School," though none remained definitive. The style would later lead to the development of new-age music, with which it shared several characteristics. It would also exert lasting influence on subsequent electronic music and avant-garde rock.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Krautrock" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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