First Kraftwerk conference at Aston

laser show

4 December 2014

Aston University is hosting the first international academic conference dedicated to German electronic music band, Kraftwerk.

Kraftwerk have long been recognised as major pioneers of electronic music. Their innovative sound had a decisive influence on the development of 1980s synth pop and techno music.

The conference will cover a wide range of topics, presented by academics from across the world. The keynote, ‘On Kraftwerk: Modernity and Movement’, will be given by Stephen Mallinder, the former singer of ‘Cabaret Voltaire’. The other talks will cover Kraftwerk’s formation and early years, their classic albums such as ‘The Man-Machine’ and ‘Trans-Europe Express’ and their legacy beyond the music.

Dr Uwe Schutte, Reader in German at Aston and convener of the conference, has enjoyed Kraftwerk from a young age. He said: “I must have heard their record, ‘Autobahn’, aged about seven when it was released in 1974. As it was so much unlike the rest of pop music at the time, it inevitably got stuck in my head. Also, Kraftwerk’s great strength is to be avant-garde yet accessible at the same time, even for a child.” 

Extensive touring attracted considerable audiences who, in many cases, were exposed to the band’s shows for the first time. The recent full move to 3D stage projections took their shows to a new visual level. Uwe believes that despite the band’s historical importance, Kraftwerk are still developing their Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) by concentrating on visuals, rather than new music.

These visuals prepared Kraftwerk for a string of appearances at international museums and leading art institutions. Venues such as MoMA, Tate Modern, or, most recently, the Viennese Burgtheater, confirmed Kraftwerk’s position as major exponents of contemporary German art.

Uwe feels that a thorough academic examination of Kraftwerk is long overdue, developing a critical appreciation of their conceptual art or the contextualisation of the band in the wider framework of German cultural history.

 He said of the conference: “To do justice to the many-facetted aspects of their œuvre and their artistic identity, a pronounced interdisciplinary approach will provide the methodological framework to the conference. It's goal is to attract papers not only from academics working in the areas of German studies, sociology, or cultural studies but also from scholars across the world in disciplines such as art history, philosophy, and musicology.”

For a full programme of the conference, prices, and to book, click here

For further media information, please contact Jaime Davies, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4377 or