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Though they'd recorded three previous albums, Kraftwerk's modern pop legacy starts with the sounds of a few footsteps and a slamming car door--the beginning of a 22-minute musically impressionistic excursion down Germany's famed superhighway. An unexpected hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Autobahn's "fahren, fahren, fahren" refrain echoes "Fun, Fun, Fun" by the Beach Boys (just one of Kraftwerk's unlikely influences), while the entire concept recalls Brian Wilson's frustrated attempts at creating what he called "a pocket symphony." The rhythmic synth pulse that carries the title track will be familiar to Kraftwerk admirers, while cofounder Florian Schneider's flute work and other more delicate melodic touches hearken back to the band's prog-rock foundations (as do the atmospheric "Kometenmelodie 1 & 2," "Mitternacht," and "Morgenspaziergang"). Kraftwerk's fascination with technology has been well documented, but the revelation of Autobahn is the playful human spirit behind the robots' masks.
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