Florian Schneider, the co-founder of German electronic band Kraftwerk, has died.
Reports of Schneider’s death was confirmed to US publication Billboard. The famed musician was 73 but the cause of his death has not been disclosed.
Schneider, who founded Kraftwerk with Ralf Hütter in 1970, was born on April 7, 1947, in Öhningen, Germany. He would go on to study at the Academy of Arts in Remscheid where he met his Kraftwerk partner in 1968.
Heavily influenced by David Bowie, the duo would on to forge their own brand of electronic improvised music with prolific effect. Having originally focused primarily on the flute as his main instrument, Schneider’s desire to push the boundaries of his sonic exploration would see him focus heavily on the development of sound design throughout his career.
“He is a sound perfectionist, so, if the sound isn’t up to a certain standard, he doesn’t want to do it,” Hütter said of his bandmate. “With electronic music there’s no necessity ever to leave the studio. You could keep making records and sending them out. Why put so much energy into travel, spending time in airports, in waiting halls, in backstage areas, being like an animal, just for two hours of a concert? But now, with the Kling Klang studio on tour with us, we work in the afternoon, we do soundchecks, we compose, we put down new ideas and computer graphics. There’s always so much to do, and we do make progress.”
Using his flute as his basic instrument, Schneider pioneered new technological advancements that allowed him to a converter along with fuzz and wah-wah effects to the sound. Arguably the best example of his desire to forge a new path would come when the Kraftwerk man later created his own electronic flute instrument. “I found that the flute was too limiting,” he once said. “Soon I bought a microphone, then loudspeakers, then an echo, then a synthesiser. Much later I threw the flute away; it was a sort of process.”
One of the biggest bands of a generation to push forward the electronic instrumentation, Kraftwerk began life as part of West Germany’s experimental krautrock movement but soon transitioned their sound into the area of synth-pop, post-punk, hip-hop and techno.
Perhaps predictably, Schneider’s keen interest in synthesizers paved the way for the band after he decided to purchase the instrument at the very beginning of the band’s formation in 1970. While their sound began to stand out from the crowd, so did their appearance. After visiting an exhibition in their hometown about visual artists Gilbert and George, they saw “two men wearing suits and ties, claiming to bring art into everyday life. The same year, Hütter and Schneider started bringing everyday life into art and form Kraftwerk.”
Schneider would release ten full studio albums with Kraftwerk, maintaining a vital role in the creativity of the band up until his departure in November 2008.