How David Bowie Perfected the Concept Album on ‘Low’
David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. YouTube
It’s been said the beginning of Kosmische Musik—the hypnotic, minimalist style of music crudely dubbed “Krautrock” by the British press in the late ’60s—lies in the wake of World War II. The trance-like atmosphere and sterilized rhythms were the result of a sound designed to mirror the shell shock that fell over Germany after the demise of the Third Reich as well as the Schlager pop music deemed appropriate for public consumption by the government.
“There were not too many ways for a German rock musician to perform music, to make music, even to think of the theoretical development of music because there was no heritage in the country,” explains the late Edgar Froese of the groundbreaking electronic outfit Tangerine Dream in the BBC documentary Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany.
“And the Germans were in a very bad situation. You couldn’t forget that. I mean, they were so stupid and guilty for it, to start two wars. As horrific as it was it had one, forgive me to say that, one positive point. There was nothing else to lose. They lost everything. And so, when we thought about doing music in a different form, there was only the free form, the abstract form.”
Oddly enough, when David Bowie began exploring this new music coming out of Germany from groups like Tangerine Dream and Cluster and Kraftwerk, he was coming under fire for some of the things he was saying while under his Thin White Duke persona in 1976.