Various - Electri_City 2 album review

New compilation of 70s/80s music from Düsseldorf delivers the goods

Various Electri_City 2 album cover

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The German city of Düsseldorf is best known for producing Kraftwerk, whose influence on modern music turned out to be improbably incalculable. However, Düsseldorf had many other innovative electric sons and daughters, a further selection of whom are showcased on this second compilation arising from Rudi Esch’s book Electri_City, now translated into English.

Only Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger’s Neu! and their spin-off group, the proto-punkish La Düsseldorf, represent the Krautrock generation. The latter’s eponymous track bristles with civic patriotism, starting with sampled chants from the local football terraces. Isi, from Neu! 75 is deceptively lush by contrast, like a David Hockney painting, speedboating across a glittering lake towards an ever-receding horizon.

The remainder of these tracks come from the Neue Deutsche Welle era, in which neo-Kraftwerkian pop with an often brutalist twist came into its own. There’s Abendlicht by Wolfgang Reichman, a fey, blue-lipsticked pop creation murdered by drunks while drinking in Düsseldorf in 1978.

DAF’s Kebabträume is a brilliant, arpeggiated satire on West Germany’s attitude to its Turkish “guest workers”. Liaisons Dangereuses’ Etre Assis Ou Danser is astonishingly advanced pre-acid dance from 1981, while Pyrlator’s Max is like an imaginary electronic soundtrack to early 20th-century German art.

Annie Lennox lends a bit of celebrity vocalising to Robert Görl’s Darling Don’t Leave Me but there are more obscure treasures, not least Teja Schmitz’s Studieren, whose reverb and sequencer swirl lend atmosphere to a typically German lyrical tale of paternal oppression.

David Stubbs: Future Days: Krautrock & The Building Of Modern Germany

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.