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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Autobahn

Kraftwerk

1974

Autobahn

Album Summary

Autobahn is the fourth studio album by German electronic music band Kraftwerk, released in November 1974 by Philips Records. The album marked several personnel changes in the band, which was initially a duo consisting of Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter; later, the group added Klaus Röder on guitar and flute, and Wolfgang Flür on percussion. The album also completed the group's transition from the experimental krautrock style of their earlier work to an electronic pop sound consisting mostly of synthesizers and drum machines. Recording started at the group's own Kling Klang facility, but was predominantly made at Conny Plank's studio. Autobahn also includes lyrics and a new look for the group that was suggested by Emil Schult, an associate of Schneider and Hütter. Most of the album is taken up by the 22-minute "Autobahn", featuring lyrics by Schneider, Hütter, and Schult. The song was inspired by the group's joy of driving on Germany's autobahns, and recorded music that reflected a trip emulating the sounds of a vehicle. The album's release in West Germany saw little press attention. "Autobahn" was released as a single and received airplay at a Chicago radio station, leading it to spread across the United States. In 1975, the song became an international hit and Kraftwerk's first release of their music in the US. "Autobahn"'s success led to the band touring the United States with new member Karl Bartos, who would replace Roeder, followed by a tour of the United Kingdom. Initial reception to Autobahn was mixed; it received negative reviews from Rolling Stone and Village Voice's critic Robert Christgau who felt the music was inferior to earlier electronic music from Wendy Carlos and Mike Oldfield. Other critics found the track "Autobahn" hypnotic and arresting for its imagery of driving on the autobahn. Critics from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Newsday included the album in their "Honorable Mentions" sections of their year-end lists. Later reception was unanimously enthusiastic; Simon Witter wrote in NME the album is of "enormous historical significance" and Simon Reynolds said the album is where Kraftwerk's music really starts to matter. Musicians of the 1970s and 1980s, including David Bowie, cited the album as a major influence.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.09

Votes

5695

Genres

  • Electronica
Reviews
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View Author
Tue May 11 2021
1

Notes: 7mins into first song: SOMETHING JUST PLEASE HAPPEN THIS IS LIKE GUCCI GUCCI PRADA PRADA ALL OVER AGAIN 8mins in: Ok maybe I should have been careful what wished for. You know when you get stuck/lost on a video game level and the soundtrack just loops? Yeah… Some of the effects were nice just not used in a nice way. I was constantly checking how long was left on this album and I paid more attention to it than other albums we’ve done so I feel a bit more confident with my vote. This album was the equivalent of a long drive on the autobahn for someone who doesn’t like driving.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
1

It didn’t werk for me

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Fri Feb 19 2021
5

Not completely robots yet. This is a real sweet spot in their catalogue. Last one produced by Conny Plank, which I think is a shame in a way that their creative partership ended here. A real sonic journey. The Beatles of electronic music.

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

Sublime. A musical journey.

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Wed Mar 02 2022
3

KK Slider went off.

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Mon May 24 2021
5

fun fun fun on the autobahn fun fun fun on the autobahn FUN FUN FUN ON THE AUTOBAHN FUN FUN FUN ON THE AUTOBAHN FUN FUN FUN ON THE AUTOBAHN

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Tue Jan 25 2022
5

The sound of optimism in the future. I find this album very uplifting and enjoy hearing the full version of the title track. Sound so ahead of its time, and this version of the album cover has to be one of the most iconic sleeve designs ever.

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

This is electronic music with a heart of gold. Happy instead of freaky, if you know what I mean. I had never listened to this album before but it's just my cup of tea. Clearly experimental but not past my ability to easily grok what they are trying to do and appreciate it. I also admire the commitment to the theme. Four stars for how much I like it and an extra star for being almost as old as I am. Talk about groundbreaking. Respect.

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Fri Feb 19 2021
4

Listened while working, which I think is kind of a perfect pairing for the repetition here. I read a bit about Autobahn and it's supposed to effect "like driving down the Autobahn" with the repetition and changes. The brief pauses and little changes after remind me of taking an exit ramp and getting onto some other road. This is probably not my favorite Kraftwerk album (that is likely Trans-Europe Express), but it's probably up there. I haven't really listened to it much lately. I like the inclusion of some traditional instruments like flute, etc. Mitternacht is a nice track, very moody. Reminds me of Berlin Era Bowie/Eno Side B tracks. Morgenspaziergang electronic parts reminds me of some of my test equipment that I modified that does weird stuff. Fun! I do like the inclusion of traditional instruments on the album as a whole. I know this is kind of the last album they do that on.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
3

Day 27 of Albums You Must Hear... Today’s album is titled Autobahn by German Electronic band Kraftwerk. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a big fan of music that is strictly instrumentation. I really love electronic music, just not as much when it has no words. This is one of those albums. My first time listening to Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, I didn’t know the year of its release, or anything about the creators. When I learned that this was released in 1974, I instantly gained much respect. These guys are innovators of EDM and I would have to imagine that the recourses and technology in the 70’s was scarce enough that you had to A) be super creative and imaginative and B) have the balls to release something so strange and new. 99.9% of music that you hear now utilizes synthesizers, drum machines, auto-tune, recording through MacBooks, and endless applications to create different sounds. Even the music that sounds completely unplugged is most likely plugged in, even in live performances. In 2021 Autobahn sounds generic, but that’s not fair to Kraftwerk. They lead the way in the early 70’s, and the entire music industry over the nearly fifty following years would benefit from them. There are some good melodies here, and this recording is at its finest when you are wearing headphones, especially the noise cancelling kind. In closing, I wanted to take a crap on this album until I learned it was nearly fifty years old, and realized how jaded to musical technology I’ve become. To me, Autobahn isn’t necessarily a must hear, but it is a project that deserves everyone’s respect, regardless of your preference in music. Please share your thoughts, memories and opinions!!

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Thu Jan 14 2021
1

Boring, but I think that's sort of the point. A few parts were rad, but it was just so boring.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
1

did not enjoy. First song was 22 minutes long and for what.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
1

Seriously?! A 22 minute opening song. Fucks sake, kill me now. I honestly hate this shit. Who in the hell listens to 42 minutes of boring electronica??

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Fri Jan 22 2021
5

Brilliant - SideA is a masterpiece Side B is great. Imagine hearing this album back then!

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Thu Jul 01 2021
5

One of my formative albums from one of my formative bands. Is this you a five star album objectively? No. But it is for me.

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Sun Oct 03 2021
5

OMG the generator gave me Kraftwerk albums two days in a row. I guess it liked my comments on The Man Machine. Hey, generator, what’s up ;) Yesterday I said that I thought "Neon Lights" was possibly the best song Kraftwerk ever made. As I typed it, a little voice in my head kept saying "Except for Autobahn!" So, I guess now I get to talk about Autobahn, which pretty much makes my weekend. Okay, it’s obviously not for everyone, an acquired taste, as one reviewer put it. But if you have the patience, this album is really worth the listen. Autobahn is next level over next level, something that I have tremendous respect for and also just like listening to. It is a bit of a mood though. I don’t necessarily want to hear it often, but when I put it on, those first 22 minutes just make me inexplicably happy. You get a sense of joy and that they were really having fun on this one, and I guess that’s what I’m feeling a response to, the joy. Musically, the album is absolutely sublime. I love the effects they use to give an impression of vehicles in motion (“Autobahn”) and the sounds of the natural world (“Morgenspaziergang”). It’s an incredibly playful and clever use of synthesizers. The incorporation of traditional instruments adds an extra level of depth you don’t hear in their later albums. This is actually “The Man Machine” in action, the natural/traditional paired with the mechanical/constructed. Go figure. In "Morgenspaziergang," the band masterfully captures the essence of sounds from the natural world like birds and flowing water to create a pastoral soundscape, complete with accompanying Pan's flutes. It's incredibly pretty. “Kometenmelodie 2” is likewise just a lovely, melodic listen. It’s a window into what other electronic artists will be doing 5-10 years down the line. As for the masterpiece of the album, "Autobahn" is the only 22-minute song I will ever care to listen to. I hesitate to even call it a song, because it's bigger than that. It's a far ranging, longform musical journey. I may never make it to the actual Autobahn, but one day I want to just get in the car and take a ride to nowhere with Autobahn playing on a loop. It's what this album was made for. Fave Songs: Autobahn, Kometenmelodie 2, Morgenspaziergang

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

Really enjoyed this. The title track has - unsuprisingly - a real autobahn feel to it. Added to my library.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

Awesome album. It's an aquired taste. I have listened to it multiple times, just to hear the song 'Autobahn' once again, but I kept listening to the whole album.

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Fri Nov 12 2021
3

Better than Gary Newman! This would sound much better played in the MGM grand arena during the first set break of a Phish show. Beautiful in some places. Stark in others. There's only so much intentionally de-humanized music one can handle before you just want to radically abandon your biological programming and commit a random act of unfiltered imperfection. So yeah, I'm typing this sentence with my pants down in front of a large window with 5 chickens on the other side. It's ok, they get it. I'm more akin to the hens than to Kraftwerk. We're all naked pecking around in a heavy rain. Kraftwerk is driving a car. B-

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Fri Jan 15 2021
1

That's a nah from me dog. This was revolutionary at one point, but that was a long time ago.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
1

Very bland for my taste. Maybe for its time, it was something never done before, I dont know. Just finished listening to it and I completely forgot about it already. 1 star, there's not intereresting substance (for me at least) and I wouldn't listen to it again.

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Wed Jul 14 2021
1

I get it's pioneering but these seem more like experimental recordings over something you'd want to listen to just to listen to. 2/10.

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Fri Jan 22 2021
1

Electronic music is definitely not my place. However, this album is very good in simulate the annoying of long road trips (at least).

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Mon Jan 25 2021
1

Not my genre

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Thu Feb 04 2021
1

I find this all a bit souless and dull to be honest. Also do we need a 22 minute opening track? Complete lack of love and sounds like the soundtrack to a shite arthouse movie. Good cover tbf. 1/5

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Fri Jun 25 2021
1

Autoballs

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Wed Mar 31 2021
1

weird

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Fri May 14 2021
1

Didn't make it all the way through...little too off for me.

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Wed Aug 04 2021
1

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this but I thought it was pretty shite. 1/5

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Wed May 12 2021

Shit

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Tue Apr 06 2021
5

false

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Wed Nov 18 2020
5

v drained 2day. not much to say. first side is amazing, hypnotic, etc, and even though the second half is generally weaker its still worth a 10 just for that first track alone. imagine listening to this when it came out in 1974 lmao

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Sun Jan 17 2021
5

это далеко не лучшая работа красивенький, но она прекрасна. 10/10.

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

Pretty Good Track 4 best

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Achei muito bom, muito doido o synth imitando os som. Nós dirigimos na estrada.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
5

whoaaaa, proto-CAN!

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

Muy electrónica, pero para tener de fondo mientras se hace algo es bastante buena

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Thu Mar 18 2021
5

<3

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Mon Mar 29 2021
5

Sensacional!

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Fri May 28 2021
5

Monumental album. Influential and memorable.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
5

Rad

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Tue Jul 20 2021
5

Een epische tocht op de Duitsr snelweg. Lekker dromerig en otherworldly.

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Fri Oct 15 2021
5

This album just takes you somewhere else. It’s so innovative and ahead of it’s time. Who said you can portray emotion with computers?

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

Classic stuff

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

YEAH KRAFTWERK!!! Already love this.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

Loved this album. Weird rhythms and strange sounds!

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Sat Feb 12 2022
5

A stunning masterpiece ✨️

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Fri Feb 25 2022
5

ja!!

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Wed Mar 02 2022
5

I just really really really liked the sound of all of this I love the flute sounds on Morgenspaziergang So much of this album sounds warm and familiar

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Thu Mar 03 2022
5

take LSD up your ass and start singing along, along the autobahn. your heart rate will sync with the light flickering in your sad sad office. as you stare into the window, the world turns darker and brighter. congratulations, you are now a lizard again. life as you know it is over, no more worries. enjoy the sun. find the best looking rock you can find. enjoy the sun.

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Thu Mar 03 2022
5

Went from I want an Audi to what are the aliens trying to say very quickly. Synths are still a top tier instrument

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Wed Mar 09 2022
5

German Rush

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

I loved this.

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Thu Mar 17 2022
5

10/10, super cool album I’m surprised electronic music sounded that good in 1973 I was expecting it to sound a little more simplistic or something but they really made the most out of it you can hear all sorts of modern production techniques being used throughout the album and I have no idea how they pulled it off overall just a super impressive album they pioneered genres that led to some of my favorite artists like Big Black Delta and LCD Soundsystem

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Wed Mar 23 2022
5

gesamtwerk. and some bonus flutes

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Fri Apr 22 2022
5

rating this 5 for the 5 year old who probably loves this

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Mon Apr 25 2022
5

Easy five. Kraftwerk's best album.

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Mon May 02 2022
5

Titillagið er æðislegt, þótt kaflarnir séu misspennandi. Kometenmelodie 2 er mjög skemmtilegt og lifandi hljóðfærin í Morgenspaziergang eru flott tilbreyting frá hinu hefðbundna Kraftwek soundi. Held ég hendi í fullt hús.

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Fri May 13 2022
5

Loved it... Fun fun fun auf der autobahn

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Tue May 24 2022
5

The electronic dream starts here. There have been fits and starts, promising beginnings and premature ends but this is where it starts to solidify itself. Before the suits, the haircuts, the dummies, cycling obsessions, etc., Kraftwerk focused on the joys of the road and the beauty of the automobile as they wax sonic miracle that continues to enliven and enlighten nearly fifty years on. Fahren! Fahren! Fahren!

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Sat May 28 2022
5

As I've established thus far, I'm a suckered for gimmicky experimental sounds. I love the feel overall of this, and it feels like perfect late night music.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
5

Affirmative

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Thu Jun 23 2022
5

It's my birthday today and this is 1001's present to me rather than some obscure mid-80's album by some unknown dirt band. I found this many years ago in my dad's collection and have been on an Electro journey ever since but these guys are the Godfathers of Electronic music. You don't get any better than this and it's a trip from start to finish. Experimental, ambient, jarring and hypnotic. 🌟🚗🌟🚗🌟🚗🌟🚗🌟🚗

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Wed Jun 29 2022
5

funf all day long

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Thu Aug 25 2022
5

可以说是很超前的电子乐了,充满了虚幻感,仿佛表达了宇宙的意识。刚开始给人一种迷幻的感觉,我相信可以启发一些人的思想,充满着未知与创造性,可受众面不会很广。但在电子乐的领域真的很强,可以给人带来一种不可言喻的升华。

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

A genuine album you should hear before you die. Efficient German electronic tunes and efficient German lyrics. The fact that this album has pretty much influenced every major genre of music should be reason enough to listen to it. The fact that it's actually brilliant is another reason. Best Tracks: Autobahn; Kometenmelodie 1; Kometenmelodie 2

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Mon Oct 10 2022
5

Title song is brilliant. The others good.

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Sun Jan 01 2023
5

Grandios. Das ertse Album elektronischer Musik, ein Vorreiter und Wegvorbereiter. Hört sich auch heute noch sehr gut.

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Mon Jan 09 2023
5

No big deal, it’s only an absolute masterpiece.

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Sun Jan 15 2023
5

Normally this is not my preferred choice when I want to listen to some Kraftwerk, but I was pleasantly surprised when hearing Autobahn again. It was strangely emotive, even.

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Sun Jan 15 2023
5

Great Kraftwerk album: superclassic, superinfluential, noting to add.

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Thu Jan 19 2023
5

I’ve hear the short version of Autobahn before and enjoyed it, but it was nothing compared to driving down the highway today listening to the full 20 minute version! Really incredible how the song is constructed. I loved it so much! As the album progressed my love only grew. They paint amazing sound pictures on this album. The flute is wonderful. It might have even edged out The Man-Machine as my favorite from Kraftwerk.

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Thu Jan 19 2023
5

Very fun, especially for someone who doesn't like driving.

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Thu Jan 19 2023
5

I have no problems with Kraftwerk and I have enjoyed becoming acquainted with some of their library of work. However, two albums within the same week seemed a bit out of balance and perhaps created an uphill battle to win my affections. They did it!

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Thu Jan 19 2023
5

This album holds quite a lot of nostalgia for me, so that skews its rating up some. This was one I listened to a lot in the early 80s. I very much love the imagery that each of the pieces in this evokes. The title track has always been a favorite, conjuring up a car trip quickly passing through different environments along the highway. Then we go with a comet in the sky, amplified midnight noises, and a morning walk. All pretty perfect.

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Sat Jan 21 2023
5

👌🏼👌🏼😎

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Wed Jan 13 2021
4

This album was super weird. Not sure if I have many thoughts about it. I can see its appeal when you come from a technological advancement standpoint but in the current day it left a bit to be desired in my opinion. For the first song I was expecting it go into a Yes-like frenzy of sounds but it never did, instead it kept teasing me with a pseudo chorus about a road made for fast cars. The other, shorter songs were quite nicer but not something I'd listen to regularly. I think my favourite was the third track "Kometenmelodie 2". I realize this mostly an electronic ambient work of music but I honestly expected a bit more lol. However not bad overall, just not my cup of tea. I'll probably enjoy it more on future listen minus the title track. 7/10

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Sun Feb 21 2021
4

I have heard other songs by this group before. I liked the songs on this album. That being said, for the time this was probably a great album. Now this kind of blends in.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

I wish there was an aready listened function. Album is class, though.

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Tue Jan 19 2021
4

Always a good one to listen too

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Wed Mar 10 2021
4

This was a musical journey. It was weird to start, but by the end it was really good.

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Sat Jan 30 2021
4

Fun at the autobahn

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Sun Mar 07 2021
4

Ah ze Germans ya very fond of ze autobahn.

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Thu May 06 2021
4

Pretty nice background music

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Thu Apr 01 2021
4

Title track is pretty cool as it morphs over time. Middle third (?) is favorite section, but I like the vocal parts of the first section (bahn bahn bahn, ist das Autobahn). Side B is less impressive to me. Ordinarily I enjoy ambient electronic, but this was more just beeps and boops than it was coherent songs. Overall, cool stuff.

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Wed Feb 10 2021
4

So I have listened to this a bunch. My German teacher loved this album. And would play it during tests. It brings back good memories.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

Fun fun fun on the autobahn

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Thu Mar 04 2021
4

Thoroughly enjoyable early electronic music!

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

An important document in music history. I recognize the massive influence this album had in electronic music and synth-pop.

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Thu Feb 04 2021
4

I think I’ll be able to give this one a five once I’m more familiar with it. One listen wasn’t enough. Autobahn was definitely the highlight of the album

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

Groundbreaking

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Tue Jan 19 2021
4

ahora no le dedique el estudio suficiente a la banda pero me imagino es alemana y estuvo chidito el trip que se agarra con ciertas canciones especialmente la ultima que tiene un toque asiático saludos a toda la banda! buen matecitos de churritos

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Mon Jul 12 2021
4

.

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Wed Feb 10 2021
4

Cool and poised and wry, like the most well-dressed cyborg reading haikus

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

Really enjoyed it. First time I’ve listened to it all the way through, and was interesting to notice the influences it’s brought to other artists over the years. Weird vibes at the end, almost went a bit chronicles of Narnia. Overall 8/10

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

It's almost impossible to listen to this now and appreciate how ahead of its time it was. Some of the instruments used here were brand new, expensive and not widely used. Plus they made their own synths too!

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Sun Apr 11 2021
4

false

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Fri Jul 09 2021
4

Very long tracks. Engaging

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Mon Apr 05 2021
4

Fon fon fon

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Yeaa kraftwerk początki elektroniki, techno trochę. super odkrycie. tour de france super piosenka nie z tego albumu akurat. Puszczę kiedyś na jakiejś imprezie na pewno

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