I sort of want to post something serious, but I had a bad day at work, and the serious stuff going on here in the U.S., mainly the presidential campaign, is profoundly disheartening. It's not just the campaign itself, but the people baying from the sidelines. So I'd rather think about something else.
It's a pretty self-indulgent post, I guess, since I think very few, if any, people who read this blog will be interested in this video. It's a BBC documentary on "Krautrock," which, if you haven't encountered it before, is the term applied loosely to a number of German bands active in the 1970s. The only thing they really have in common is that they were attempting to break away from the mostly blues-based music of the American and British rock scenes. Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Can, Neu!, Faust, and Cluster were the most prominent names. The documentary is not available for streaming from the BBC, but there's some information about it here. It's an hour long. I've noticed that sometimes YouTube videos work better if you click through and watch it at the YouTube site rather than here.
If you aren't interested in watching the whole thing, it's worth sitting through the first ten minutes or so for the clips of German "schlager" music, which at least in these brief samples is the worst pop music I've ever heard. I can see why some musicians thought any kind of noise would be better.
I don't actually especially like most of the music referred to here, I just find the phenomenon interesting. But I do like two of the bands, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. The first, in their '70s and early '80s heyday, produced fascinating otherworldly soundscapes almost entirely with synthesizers, flavored with Edgar Froese's excellent guitar work. Some of their work was slow and dreamy, some propulsive. Most pieces were long, at least up until 1980 or so--30 minutes or more, occupying both sides of an LP. Here's a section from one that's familiar to all TD fans, "Ricochet," arguably their most successful long work.
If you were around in the 1970s you may have heard Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" on the radio (or maybe you were even one of the people who bought the album--I wasn't). Their work was more conventional in musical structure, but was cool and mechanical by design, using the synthesizer in a somewhat ironic way, presumably as a comment on the alienation produced by technology. They deliberately presented themselves as somewhat robotic.