Electri_city: The Düsseldorf School Of Electronic Music - Rudi Esch book review

Machine music with a human touch.

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Esch’s weighty survey presents a blow-by-blow account of the remarkable surge of creativity that flowed through Düsseldorf beginning in the late 60s and early 70s. An extensive collection of interviews intercut into themed eyewitness accounts trace the impact of the scene as the likes of Michael Rother, Klaus Dinger, Kraftwerk and others would reach far beyond the confines of the city itself.

Like all accounts of geographical and artistic convergence, the testimony captures the tremulous excitement as players go from cultish underground kudos to mainstream success, and the distorting effects that often accompany it. Wolfgang Flür admits that at the time of Kraftwerk’s Tour De France in the mid-80s, they were “sat in the studio twiddling our thumbs”.

Flür further laments that the hallowed Kling Klang studio had become little more than a storage space for bicycle parts. Littered with many similarly blunt assessments, Esch leaves it to the interviewees to drive the narrative. Although this allows for welcome candidness, it can plod in places, with some comments in need of interpretation.Nevertheless, it’s a richly absorbing account.