Kraftwerk is definitely one of those bands that transcends the time that they were making music. Their brand of straight electronic music from Germany was otherworldly and futuristic. They were using synthesizers in ways that no one thought possible in popular music and the effects were definitely seen in the 1980's and beyond. After some great experiments in sound and moody, woozy synth soundscapes like Autobahn and Trans Europa Express, the German's dropped their language and record The Man Machine filled with fantastic pop songs. The track "Neon Lights" is the pinnacle of these fantastic collection of tracks. The amount of different sounds and textures the 9 minute song goes through is fantastical. It's music brews forth images of lights and fireworks and such. Lyrically it has 4-lines, but it's the soundscape that builds the lyricism of the song.
The most obvious choice for a modern day group influenced by Kraftwerk is Animal Collective. Their approach of using synthetic devices to create musical soundscapes is very similar to that of Kraftwerk's approach. The band consists of four members and all four members use synthesizers. Percussion, bass, and all the melodies are synthetic, but "Neon Lights" takes on a feel of something far more organic and beautfiul. It's a sweeping track that is best accompanied by a long drive on a beautiful summers night or in the dark with headphones. The humming and droning of Kraftwerk's synths is some of the most hauntingly beautiful music you will hear.
Up Next: XTC's brand of uber structured New Wave