EdgeHillUniversityA leading musicologist’s research on German electronic band Kraftwerk has resulted in an audio-visual project of their work being recreated, which is about to tour the country.

Dr Richard Witts, Reader in Music and Sound at Edge Hill University, has been working with contemporary music ensemble Icebreaker, one of the UK’s leading new music interpreters specialising particularly in post-minimal repertoire, to recreate a crucial phase in electronic music history.

As a result, Kraftwerk’s evolution will be explored in a special live show that highlight’s the band’s experimental early period. It will see the music of Kraftwerk reinterpreted by German composer J Peter Schwalm, with film by visual artists Sophie Clements and Toby Cornish. Watch a clip here http://youtu.be/AQsXuSi1saY.

Talking about how the idea for the project came about, Dr Witts, a music historian and ex-leader of 1980s band The Passage said: “I’ve been fascinated by Kraftwerk for some time and have done a lot of research on them, including looking at their influence within the music industry. While studying their work, I realised that their music fell into two categories, the early years between 1970 and 1973 before they went electric, and their later work from 1975, which they are most famous for.

“I felt that there was a story we could tell and that we could show the ‘human’ inside the machine, which is why I wanted to work with Icebreaker to recreate this work and focus on Kraftwerk’s early, semi-improvised music that combined acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as their career-defining albums.”

The tour – billed as Kraftwerk Uncovered – A Future Past – shows off the group’s many different sounds and kicks off at the London Science Museum on 24th January, followed by a tour starting at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall on Wednesday 5th February, which includes a talk by Dr Witts.

Dr Witts said: “Since their formation in 1970, the German group’s output has revolutionised music and influenced scores of musicians. This live show is a purposeful departure from the dehumanised high-tech of the current Kraftwerk shows and articulates their journey from experimental krautrock band to international icons.”

Holding a PhD in music from Goldsmiths’ University of London, Dr Witts is a former TV presenter and has also presented a large number of radio programmes on cultural issues for the BBC. As a musician Richard performed a wide range of Renaissance, classical and modern music. As well as performing for a number of years with the Hallé Orchestra, he was also a member of the post-punk band The Passage.

His research concerns music policy, especially that of the BBC, the Arts Council, and other national and international cultural institutions. He is also interested in the use of experiential analysis in order to explain popular music.