In January, David Toop gave a talk at London’s Science Museum in which he made the startling assertion that Kraftwerk were Dusseldorf's answer to The Isley Brothers. Rather than a frivolous provocation by a bored theorist, this represented a rare return to a subject David once made his own, critiquing existing orthodoxies on the historical give and take of African-American and European popular musics, remaking connections that have been ignored for various nefarious reasons (or just through sheer ignorance) by critics and academics alike; or that have been written out of history altogether for being too damn inconvenient or messy.
David's talk was partly prompted by a Facebook post by Kirk Degiorgio, which bemoaned the fact that the African-American contribution to Kraftwerk's sound has been routinely sidelined by three decades of rhetoric proclaiming them der Patenonkels of techno and electro. As anyone familiar with the two interviews with Kirk published in The Wire (way back in issues 160 and 214), this is a bone of contention he has been gnawing away at for some time.
On Facebook, Kirk mentioned The Isleys in relation to Kraftwerk, and in his talk, David took up the idea and ran with it, expanding the argument to include the impact of progressive African-American jazz on the Dusseldorf mensch-machines.