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Feb 9 2013

Kraftweek 4 – Ralf & Florian, human after all

My favourite member of the group used to be Karl with his impish good looks and funky drumbeats, but over time I’ve come to appreciate Florian Schneider because of his mysteriousness and obvious sense of humour. Both he and Ralf Hutter have come across as cold and humourless in recent years because of the minimal interviews and stilted language used, all this stuff about ‘musical workers’ and the machines operating themselves. It wasn’t always so…
Check out this performance of ‘Pocket Calculator’ from Italian show Discoring in 1981. Aside from the Italian language version of the song (I think) check the little humorous interactions between Ralf and Karl on the left at 2.24 and 4.40. Best of all are the closing seconds as the presenter says goodbye, watch Florian on the right.

Did you see that? He made the rabbit ears sign behind the presenter’s head! You can see him getting ready too, he knows he going to do it and lines himself up for the moment.

Another performance of the same song in New York yields more playful antics from Schneider too. Along with letting members of the audience press buttons on the calculator he mugs to camera, miming electronic letters ‘a’ and ‘o’ and pretends to be electrified when pressing the calculator.

In Rio de Janeiro back in 1998 Florian endured this quick non-interview in which he’s clearly enjoying giving away as little as possible in order for it to be over with.

And who could forget the closing shot of their Tomorrows World performance of ‘Autobahn’?

But the prize goes to Ralf Hutter for his casual lyrical amendment to the last verse of ‘The Model’ at an Edinburgh soundcheck in 1991.

Click >>>The Model – Edinburgh soundcheck ’91

Posted on Saturday, February 9th, 2013 at 10:36 am under Film, Kraftwerk. You can follow these comments using the RSS feed. You can trackback from your own site or leave a comment below..


  1. LOL !
    I have seen that live on tv !!
    I mean…I am born in italy and I was 16 and few months later I bought my first synth (a korg ms20).
    Discoring was a great show…nothing like that on modern tv.

    Comment by mauxuam on February 10, 2013 at 1:40 am

  2. Kraftwerk’s humour is one of the things that most critics seem to miss. It’s deep and subtle and silly and I love it. Other examples – they’ve >ended< their concerts for many years with the declaration Music Non-Stop… "I'm the operator with my pocket calculator – how funny is that? If the front cover of Electric Cafe is a 3d wireframe of the group's four heads, what is on the reverse? The backs of their heads of course! Ohm Sweet Ohm? The deadpan irony of It's More Fun To Compute, the pills falling as the backdrop to Vitamin and so on. There's far more humour there than most electronic groups or indeed most non-electronic groups.

    Comment by Colin on February 12, 2013 at 11:12 am

  3. @colin: ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’ is genius as of course is ‘fahren, fahren, fahren on the Autobahn’. The only one that troubles me really is ‘Sex Object’ :)

    Comment by kev on February 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm

  4. Hah, yes, but that stepped over the line into arch humour and thereby failed I think. It’s co-credited to Bartos who I’ve always suspected wrote the words.

    Comment by Colin on February 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm

  5. Is that why he was sometimes known as ‘little Karl’? ;)

    Comment by kev on February 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm


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