Review in Shindig! 01/2021

by Joe Banks, 7 January 2021
Read the original source here

There’s been quite a few books written about (West) Germany’s avant-rock scene in the ’70s, but this is the first English language overview of the German music scene from an insider’s point of view: Hamburg-born Jan Reetze, who was on the ground and saw many of the key krautrock bands at the time. However, this isn’t just a fan’s love letter to their musical youth, but an attempt to give a wider cultural context to German pop and rock from the end of WW2 to the fall of The Berlin Wall. One of the myths that Reetze is keen to debunk is the idea that krautrock was some kind of year zero event due to the country’s musical heritage having been tainted and destroyed by Nazism – as he points out, Germany had thriving post-war jazz and pop scenes comparable to Britain’s, and both Can and Kraftwerk had their origins in the conservatoire tradition. At the same time, he’s happy to admit that a certain reserve and lack of “groove” in the German character was partially responsible for the music that these bands made. Similarly, Germans tended not to fear new technologies such as the synthesiser as much as their Anglo-American peers, fully embracing the possibilities of electronics rather than just adapting them into a rock format. Reetze’s English may be sometimes a little stilted, but he’s very readable, with insights on every page. This beautifully presented and illustrated book is a must for both krautrock and music culture aficionados.