Kraftwerk: I Was A Robot BOOK review [Wolfgang Flur]

Book Reviews
Kraftwerk: I Was A Robot BOOK review [Wolfgang Flur]
Mar 15, 2001, 01:57


KRAFTWERK: I WAS A ROBOT by Wolfgang Flur; Sanctuary, 2000

As the years roll by with no new music from Kraftwerk, any scrap of info connected with them is bound to elicit interest from fans, myself included. An autobiography from a key member during the group's glory years, drummer Wolfgang Flur, should be most welcome. However Kraftwerk: I Was a Robot is a confounding and massively flawed book on several counts.

Perhaps most irritating is Flur's editorial voice, one highly colored by the dippiest of New Age philosophical perspectives. Instead of hard facts, reasoned analyses, even impassioned emotional insights, one encounters an unending string of pastel truisms. That's no big deal when Wolfgang's discussing his overall worldview and approach to the more mundane details of everyday life in recent year, but it makes for very shallow, highly inappropriate statements when it comes to discussing the most important aspects of his experiences with Kraftwerk and fails to convey any crucial insight into the artistic aspirations and creative processes at work.

Consistently, his focus is way off the mark. Accounts of worldwide tours to exotic locales such as India and the Far East, pivotal band meetings, etc., dwell on the appointments of their hotel rooms, and dessert menus, rather than more substantial matters. Oddly there's little or no discussion of writing or recording sessions.

Perhaps this stance is forced on him because Flur was not so very deeply involved in the artistic matters central to Kraftwerk's oeuvre. Desperately trying to keep the spotlight on himself, his contributions and experiences, Flur deals with the ephemera which was in fact what he saw and dealt with day to day. The circumstances and inspirations of Kraftwerk's creative pursuits all seem to have been the province of Kraftwerk founders Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider by Flur's account.

The fact that his reputation and fame, to this day, still rest on his past work with Kraftwerk has made Flur a bitter man, clearly in denial, and unable to come to grips with the full significance of the band's achievement and artistic legacy  His observations on Ralf and Florian are typically dismissive and lacking insight as to the pair's aesthetic pioneering.

On a pettier level, the book's an awkward read: between ham-handed translation and source text that's likely just as stilted and tentative (ain't read the German original so I can't swear to that) it's inelegantly written, grammatically, syntactically, and conceptually. And the first two issues ain't so important but the last certainly is.

Ultimately the reader mainly learns that Flur is a silly, shallow, and sour man who didn't really get much at all during his tenure in one of the groundbreaking music concerns of the late 20th century.

-Howard W.

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