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

Machine music with a human touch.

Electri_city: The Düsseldorf School Of Electronic Music book cover

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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.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.