Born in 1947 in Frankfurt, Germany, Wolfgang Flür rose to prominence as Kraftwerk‘s electro-drummer during their most commercially successful period, between 1973’s Autobahn and 1986’s Electric Cafe / Techno Pop. He joined what at the time was the duo of Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter, and became, with the later addition of Karl Bartos, part of what is still considered to be the classic Kraftwerk line-up of Hütter-Schneider-Bartos-Flür. He left the group in 1987, replaced by Fritz Hilpert.
Since 2004, Flür has been presenting music worldwide in clubs and at festivals, DJing and playing tech-house, industrial and electro works of his own under the moniker Musik Soldat, as well as music by Kraftwerk, Karl Bartos and others, leading to an assortment of collaborations along the way. Among the artists he’s worked with are Nitzer Ebb‘s Bon Harris.
These works are gathered together for the first time on Eloquence – The Complete Works, a showcase of Flür’s varied post-Kraftwerk projects. Here, in his own words, he guides us through the album’s 12 tracks…
1. I Was A Robot
I Was A Robot is my sung autobiography and the best musical work I’ve done with my musical partner Stefan Lindlahr whom I met at the famous Conny Plank studio in Neunkirchen. Originally the song was an idea from my friend Hans Erkendahl of The Mobile Homes.
When I released the second edition of my autobiography with the same title he asked me: “Wolfgang, why not make a single to accompany the book?” He was right and so we did: the musical arrangement developed into a road movie through my former stations with album titles of Kraftwerk (as their electric drummer) who was suddenly out of work when the drum-sequencer appeared on the studio scene (“Robot, what did they do to you?”).
With this title I close an old chapter and prepare my present, longing for the future (“Starting new thing”).
2. Cover Girl
Some years ago I thought it would be good to have a follow up story of (Kraftwerk) song The Model. I thought it might be interesting to know how The Model developed in her current days. Sometimes I see her on the Düsseldorf Königs Allee (Kings Alley) and must say she’s not a real eye catcher anymore. With Cover Girl I describe the ruin of a former super model to a wreck. Not so sexy I know, but sometimes tragic reality. In the song we used samples of the former duo TANGA who made their own version of the song.
3. On The Beam
This was the first song I started after my Time Pie album. I had visted Christa Fast, the widow of Conny Plank, in her house and studio for an interview for my autobiography in 1999. During these talks (recorded on mini-disc) and my expressed troubles with finding a new recording partner she offered me use of her studio for a new song to record. On The Beam was already in my mind, lyrics were written, melodies developed.
On the first recording day I was introduced to a young man – Stefan Lindlahr- who was engaged for the programming besides Ingo Kraus who was the follower assistant on the engineering panel of Conny Plank’s studio. Stefan had a new device to check for musical productions. Stefan writes reviews and tests new devices for a German music magazine. The device was a ROLAND Variphrase 9000, a new vocoder and sampler machine for creating vocals and great choruses. During recording days he developed a sugary chorus from the sung words of “get on the beam, serenity supreme“.
After finishing this song, the Plank Studio was closed and Stefan invited me to his own house and studio in the same village where we decided to work on more songs. This was the start of a great partnership and many creative recording days and nights. I had an artist’s apartment there where I could rest in the day and sleep in the night, in the middle of a brilliant landscape of Westerwald with huge greens, soft hills and birds singing all over the day. We were “on the beam” so to speak.
4. Blue Spark
Between my works with Stefan I wrote lyrics and composed a song for Hans Erkendahl’s daughter Isabel. She had already had a No 1 hit in Finland with Rosa Helikopter and her producer wanted a follow-up song. I created Blue Spark which they didn’t take for an unknown reason. The fact is that it had to be a teenager’s song – Isabel was 17!
Later we asked our main singer Miriam Suarez to sing the track for my own use and this went pretty well as with all these spacey, squeaky and wired sounds which appear in this song created by Stefan. That’s why Blue Spark is now on the album – a teenage anthem so to speak. I invited Isabel to sing on two other songs on my album – the chorus of Axis Of Envy and Staying In The Shadow. Isabel is a very talented singer, she inherited it from her father – a musical Swedish family.
5. Staying In The Shadow
Before I signed a new contract with Cherry Red Records, I agreed to an interview for the British magazine Electronic Sound Magazine. The theme was the 40th anniversary of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn in November 2014. The interviewer put me in contact with Jack Dangers (aka Meat Beat Manifesto). The idea was to collaborate with Jack in a promotional song for their magazine as a giveaway for new subscribers.
I must admit I didn’t know Jack all too well but could remember a photo of us dated in 1997 when promoting my Time Pie album in New York. Since then I had no contact with Jack. In February this year he had sent me a soundtrack to collaborate on. It was a pretty different music and style to mine and I had problems to getting used to the atmosphere Jack created. I needed days to get into his dramatic and melancholic dark tunes, to find an entrance to tell a story with my voice.
At last I found my way with the description of a guy who had earned nothing positive from life and his daily argument. I recorded my voice in my bedroom one early morning when not already prepared for the day. The lyrics are about someone who is not willing to say hello to a new adventure and their daily requirements.
6. Moda Makina
In 2012 I was invited to Mexico for some Musik Soldat shows in Puebla, Guadalajara, Mexico City and Tijuana. An elegant looking man played support for my shows – Ramon Amezcua, a former dentist and brilliant Mexican electro musician. During these days we got friendly with each other. Ramon asked me later for some collaboration in his forthcoming new album Motel Baja. I asked Ramon all about the themes for his concept album. He explained that many things happen while travelling Mexico’s cities and on their roads with his band.
It was easy to collaborate this time with such a story because I had already written lyrics for a song called Fashion Machine but hadn’t finished recording it with a Dortmund music engineer – his talents of music creating were not to my pleasure and I had put back this theme for another use and time. With Ramon’s soundtrack these lyrics worked better, much better! It worked so fine that we presented the song during the gigantic Vive Latino Festival in Mexico City in March 2014 in a huge arena with 60,000 people! In July 2015 we performed the same song live onstage again during the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors festival with huge success and great press.
7. Beat Perfecto
I needed to find a perfect beat for a song that was part of my earlier music presentation shows. It could have been in 2006 that I wrote some lyrics about the search for that perfect beat which I think today cannot really be found.
The lyrics are simple and show pure lust for life and dancing. “Set to work – dancing right/Rhythm section – getting tight/We’re on standby – under heat/Searching for the perfect beat”
8. Axis Of Envy
In February 2010 I was invited to a Depeche Mode concert at Esprit Arena Düsseldorf by my agent and Daniel Miller from Mute Records who wanted to have his copy of my autobiography signed. I met a smart and friendly man backstage. The support band was Nitzer Ebb. I had never heard of them and especially not their so-called EBM [Electronic Body Music] sound. I found Nitzer Ebb much more touching and inspiring to me than Depeche Mode and I said this to the group’s leader Bon Harris after their performance. Their hard and stoic beats really touched me; I’m a drummer, I like hard beats.
A year later I saw Nitzer Ebb again together with The German band Die Krupps in Dortmund’s FZW hall and was even more touched by their archaic sounds and style. Afterwards I spoke further with Bon and Douglas, the singer. Bon asked if I could collaborate on a side project of his called Shadow Bureau. I asked him to send me some drafts. “Axis of Envy“ was the result of the lyrics I brought to the track. I invited Hans Erkendahl’s daughter to sing the chorus against my rough sentences, to play the Beauty to my Beast (which of course I was). The song was used on the TV trailer for the Hollywood movie True Legend which was not offered to European cinemas. On my website you can watch the strange trailer and song.
9. Best Friend’s Birthday
I needed a follow up song to Time Pies’ Mosquito, about daily comedy and had a good reason for such. My friend was away on holiday and I was awaiting her return, which happened to be her birthday. I wanted to celebrate with good will and best thoughts.
As life sometimes goes wrong, that special day turned into a disaster and brought me to rage and despair. We used an original trumpet sample from our friend Giorgio Li Calzi from Milano, who had sent us his music a few days before. I was immediately assured of the hectic disruption of Giorgio’s trumpet sound. He loaned us his piece for my song. Remember: “I just wanted to celebrate my best friend’s birthday,” nothing more, nothing less.
10. Pleasure Lane
Between 1987 and 1992, I had a really depressing period in my life. I’d made the decision to split from Kraftwerk and lost a wonderful wife after 10 years of togetherness; all my happiness was gone. It took a long time to re-invent myself. This came about by starting to write songs with my first melodies developing in the simplest way imaginable. The more I wrote and developed my own music notation (“leave notes sustain,”) the more my self-confidence came back and I started a new life.
In Pleasure Lane I tell of my experience of life being the navigation of a narrow ridge between responsibility and shallowness (“seduction bridge,”) and how one must ultimately decide what is most important. Personally, I love nature most of all and have sharpened all my senses and learned to educate myself into a sensibility of my own (“I myself can teach me how,”) without the support of a big family, a band or any other organisation behind me. This has made me strong and independent. For all of this positivity, Pleasure Lane is a synonym in song. God, am I happy that we had Miriam in the boat to sing my story, I love her voice.
11. Silk Paper
When I was a young boy I always had to go to Catholic church on Sunday’s to expiate my sins from the week. The church pastor would normally give me five Ave Maria or even 10 (when the sins were big). Once I ran out of the confessional to the women’s side of the church and knelt next to an older woman who was already there praying with her beads and reading her prayer book in a whisper. The whispering lips, the clicking sound of the glass pearls and the turning over of the silk paper pages from her prayer book, edges from gold, made me shiver throughout my whole body and gave me goosebumps which I liked very much.
For me as a young boy the atmosphere in the dark afternoon church with all the smell of olibanum and the impression of the women in this holy atmosphere was what I loved very much. Even today when visiting old churches during travels for sightseeing as a tourist these impressions come to me.
12. Golden Light
My favourite song on the album besides Pleasure Lane. Anni Hogan and I met in 2007 during an invitation to the Tivoli Club in Dublin. Anni and Andy Bell from Erasure were additionaly announced to play sets. Anni was brilliant, ingenious, powerful, very charming. She loved my set and stuck a little paper under my hotel door which I found the next morning when I was leaving. On the paper was written a wish – that we should collaborate musically at any time in something new. This was in fact the beginning of a big friendship we have had since then.
Later, Anni invited me to her house in Liverpool and we spent some wonderful days talking about music and playing her piano, playing little melodies. She later sent me an instrumental, asking for my thoughts. Immediately I could imagine the ocean inside the song. For me it was the waves of the sea on the bays of Hastings. I changed the lyrics I had already written for a new German story teller book, translated them, and found that they fitted perfectly to the atmosphere of Anni’s piano arrangement. I called it Golden Light. In fact it’s the narration of a gentle and intense love story. In my book the story goes on and develops into something very different.
Wolfgang Flür’s Eloquence – The Complete Works is out now on Cherry Red Records on Clear Vinyl Double LP, CD and Download. Flür’s website can be found here. Here’s the man himself to deliver the sparkling news…