- For the song, see Autobahn (song).
|Recorded||1974 (Conny Plank's studio)|
|Released||1 November 1974|
|Label|| Philips Records|
|Producer|| Ralf Hutter|
Autobahn is the fourth album by Kraftwerk, released in 1974. Although its preceeding albums were groundbreaking, this is where Kraftwerk's sound really came to life. It has five songs, with the first 22 minute long one being a great success for the band.
Autobahn is not a completely electronic album, as violin, flute, piano and guitar are used along with synthesizers. The title track features both untreated and vocoded vocals; the remaining tracks are purely instrumental. Kraftwerk used a Minimoog, an ARP Odyssey, an EMS Synthi AKS and various devices of their own design and implementation, such as their famous electronic drums.
The title track is intended to capture the feeling of driving on the Autobahn: from travelling through the landscape, the high-speed concentration on the fast lane, to tuning the car radio and the monotony of a long trip. It describes the A 555 from Köln to Bonn—the first Autobahn ever. It was built under the mayor Konrad Adenauer in 1929 to 1932 without any intersections.
The remaining tracks have a two-part structure—an introduction followed by a main section—and are loosely based around a theme of the night, beginning with twin tracks "Kometenmelodie (Comet Melody) 1 and 2" (inspired by Comet Kohoutek), then an ominous-sounding "Mitternacht" (Midnight) and the final track, "Morgenspaziergang" (Morning Stroll). This last track begins as a dawn chorus bird-song effect created by the electronic instruments, with an extended conclusion that uses a repeating variation of the melodic phrase heard in the first instrumental section of "Autobahn".
Klaus Röder was not a member of the band for very long, and had left before the recording sessions were completed.
Konrad Plank had reputedly played a large role in developing the Kraftwerk sound, and much of the recording and all of the mixing of the work took place at his studio in Cologne. Plank's contribution to the sound was evident when comparing the album version of "Kometenmelodie" with the demo-quality single "Kohoutek-Kometenmelodie", that had been recorded without his input.
Flür had played with the band since late in 1973, first appearing with them on a Berlin TV performance to promote their Ralf und Florian album. On that show, he debuted the band’s custom-built electronic percussion pads, and these feature heavily on the Autobahn album.
On 6 February 2013 the group played the entire album at the first of their eight-night retrospectives at the Tate Modern in London.
- "Autobahn" ("Motorway") - 22:43