POSTED: May 8, 2020
Florian Schneider died sometime recently. Like much about his life, we learned this indirectly and in a manner that obscured almost as much as it revealed.
In its obituary The Guardian said
Florian Schneider, who as one of the founding members of German group Kraftwerk changed the sound of pop music forever, has died aged 73 of cancer.
The news was confirmed to the Guardian by one of his musical collaborators, who said Schneider had died a week ago and had a private burial. It was also confirmed via Sony Berlin.
Born in 1947, Schneider was the son of Paul Schneider-Esbelen, a noted architect who designed Cologne’s airport. Schneider first played music in various groups while studying in Düsseldorf, beginning in a band called Pissoff. Operating in the experimental, open-minded rock scene dubbed “krautrock” in the British press, he formed the group Organisation with Ralf Hütter, the pair later forming Kraftwerk in 1970.
Schneider played the flute, violin and guitar, though often filtered through electronic processing. His interest in electronic music grew. “I found that the flute was too limiting,” he later 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.”
After three albums with Hütter in the mid-70s, Kraftwerk released Autobahn and expanded to a quartet. The album was composed primarily on synthesisers, and its highly original sound and witty lyrics made it a hit, reaching the Top 5 in the UK and US.
Adding ever-more sophisticated synthesisers and drum machines, and with Hütter’s distinctive vocals, the group went on to release a series of albums that became hugely influential on pop music, particularly the four-album run of Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978) and Computer World (1981). They described their music as industrielle volksmusik: “folk music of the factories”, as translated by David Bowie.
He left the group in 2008. At the time Hütter said that “Schneider worked for many, many years on other projects: speech synthesis, and things like that. He was not really involved in Kraftwerk for many, many years, and in 2017 said that the pair had not really spoken since Schneider left”.
However, in 2015 Schneider returned to the studio and released a new track with Dan Lacksmann of Telex called Stop Plastic Pollution. It sounded something like this: