A propósito de la alegre noticia del regreso de Kraftwerk a México, recupero algunos de mis extractos favoritos de Paul Morley (mi escritor consentido de música, casi un filósofo, un libre pensador como pocos) sobre el cuarteto alemán. En estos párrafos Morley atina a explicar con claridad la enorme importancia cultural y emocional de Kraftwerk, su aportación inigualable a la historia de la música y sobre todo, plantea por qué son uno de los grupos más cálidos y humanos del mundo, a pesar de ser The Man Machine.
Kraftwerk are sad. Sad about some things. Sad about other things. It is the sadness of life, the sadness that life goes, in ways that are beyond reason, very much more nowhere than somewhere. It is the sadness of knowing that you must try hard to head somewhere knowing that really we are nowhere. The sadness of doing something knowing that it all comes to nothing. The sadness that the excitement of experience dissolves into an eternity beyond experience.
They click and crackle with sadness. There is a strict sadness in Kraftwerk’s music. This comes from the way their music was based around a poignant pointless longing for a new version of the past that would never be brutalised by the Nazis, for a past that looked forward to a utopian future and tried to make it happen, for a past that was a perfect mid-way point between a history that moved life and society forward and a future that accepted this history with smart, thoughtful grace. The sadness was also because Kraftwerk believed in this utopian future and they knew it could never come true - ruined by historical pressure, and political corruption, and the failure of dreams to come anywhere near true. Their music was an echo from an unsullied past and a shadow of a dreamlike future - an echo and a shadow placed so deliberately and so bravely between the melancholy drum rhythm of a present that disappeared instantly the drum was synthetically hit. Their music was lost in the spaces between the past, the present and the future, spaces that show us that we are adrift, we are not fixed, we are constantly rootless, never settled. We float through space.
Kraftwerk attached this flotation and this space to a rhythm of such cracking fragility, a rhythm that steadily represented a muted longing for truth, for stability, for certainty. They used machinery to mark out space and time amidst awesome chaos, they used eerie, empathic electronic noises to mark out minute human territory amidst the monstrous drama of the universe. The electronic noises symbolized the chemical impulses that make us human.
Kraftwerk are sad because we cannot remain innocent for long. Kraftwerk are sad, in the end, because their music, as active, composed, definite as it was, as it is, as complete as it seems, is lacking something. Something is missing. Something like, the answers to all the questions we ask ourselves about life, love, death and what is happening at this moment. Kraftwerk create a kind of perfection that hints, extravagantly, that there are answers to all the most difficult questions, and they might yet come because of the relationship between man and machine, but actually, we don’t know what they are, not quite, they are outside of our thinking, of our feeling, just beyond. The sadness in their music comes from the way that they reduce everything to a combination of heartbeat and absence, of meaning and the ghost of meaning, of belonging and not belonging.
And then there was the way they used the human voice - voices that sounded like the recently departed heard on an answer machine, voices that reminded us how strange it was that we more and more hear each other across space, over phones, through screens, at an electronic distance. The new world looked truly fantastic, above our wildest dreams, but it sounded fantastic as well, human but ghostly, separated from our natural ways. They used voices that sounded somewhere between the way we talk and the way we think.
If you cut Kraftwerk, they pretty serenely bled the words - music is careful attention paid to on going experience.
The source of their pop, then, was not blues, soul, America, beat, sex, love, cliché - it was art, noise, technology, ideas. Their music was a completely new model, based on a fantasy of what pop music might have sounded like if it had not begun in the blues, in wood, in anger, in lust, in sexual frenzy, in poverty. What if it began in the avant-garde, in metal, in celebration, in abstract art, in universal awe, in modern comfort laced with psychological anxiety?
Extracto de ‘Words and music’. Paul Morley, 2003.