Under the Kraut Rock

In the five-or-so decades since it emerged, Krautrock has been so exhaustively documented, discussed and dissected that its canon of classic groups and recordings now seem etched in stone: Can, Faust, NEU!, Kraftwerk, Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh, etc. Never mind that this canon draws together groups that are wildly variant in sound, form, and approach – this has come to be considered the Krautrock A-list. While there’s no denying the significance and creativity of this material, its condensation has served to exclude many great groups, and albums, from wider recognition. Of course, the still-surprising surge in experimental, avant-garde music from Germany across the seventies led to a robust number of micro-scenes, or collectives, exploring their own universes, as well as plenty of outliers and one-artist-against-the-world hermeticists dreaming their own reality to vinyl. This list compiles thirty such albums, and while its contours are informed by personal taste (so there’s not much in the way of symphonic prog or jazz-rock here, two approaches that seemed to have had particular purchase in Germany at the time), there’s still plenty here to discover and unravel.

Jon Dale