Aston University in Birmingham, UK, is to host the first international academic conference dedicated to German electronic/krautrock band Kraftwerk.
Industrielle Volksmusik for the Twenty-First Century, on 21–22 January, will see academics from across the world cover a range of topics relating to the electronic music pioneers. The keynote, On Kraftwerk: Modernity and Movement, will be given by former Cabaret Voltaire singer Stephen Mallinder.
Other talks will focus on Kraftwerk’s formation and early years, classic albums The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine) and Trans-Europe Express (Trans Europa Express) and their legacy beyond the music.
While extensive global touring throughout 2014 has attracted considerable audiences who, in many cases, were exposed to the band’s shows for the first time, Aston says there still remain “many areas to be explored and many established views to be questioned”.
“For example, a critical appreciation of their conceptual art or the contextualisation of the band in the wider framework of German cultural history are needed,” says the university. “To do justice to the many-facetted aspects of their œuvre and their artistic ‘corporate identity’ as a group of ‘sound researchers’, a pronounced interdisciplinary approach will provide the methodological framework to the conference.”
Dr Uwe Schutte, reader in German at Aston and convener of the conference, says: “The 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.”
Picture (Kraftwerk at Coachella 2008): Fred von Lohmann