Florian Schneider, co-founder of the influential German electronic band Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73 after a short struggle with cancer. A self-described “sound fetishist”, much of his role in the band was dedicated to sound design through his pioneering use of electronic instruments and speech-synthesis.
Kraftwerk’s “industrielle volksmusik” was initially grouped with the experimental krautrock movement in the early 1970s, but the band would soon find mainstream success after ‘Autobahn’ became an unexpected hit in 1974. In the years that followed the band became cultural icons, as their unique brand of minimal electronic music on albums like ‘The Man Machine’ and ‘Computer World’ helped to re-direct the course of pop music across the globe.
Tracks like 1982 chart-topper ‘The Model’ laid down the foundations for the synth-pop trend that would dominate the ‘80s. 1977 track ‘Trans-Europe Express’, meanwhile, became one of the earliest hip-hop hits when it was sampled by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force on the track ‘Planet Rock’ in 1982. And in recent years Kraftwerk’s legacy has been further emphasised by artists as diverse as Coldplay, Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus, who have all scored hits with songs that sample the German band’s catalogue.
Testimonials from a wide range of electronic artists including Giorgio Moroder, New Order, Egyptian Lover and Carl Craig have flooded the internet upon the news of Schneider’s death.
RIP Florian Schneider.