With their pioneering use of electronic instruments and prescient lyrics about the rising social importance of technology, Kraftwerk's seminal recordings from the late '70s and early '80s revolutionized the sonic landscape and established them as founding fathers of electronic music. Blurring the lines between man and machine, the band's robotic image has become as iconic as their sound — a fact they play up at their austere live shows, during which they interact only with their laptops while a steady stream of technology-dominated visuals take center stage. Notoriously reclusive, Kraftwerk thrilled US fans with the announcement of the 2014 Catalogue Tour, where they will perform all eight albums from their catalog on successive nights in Los Angeles and Oakland — all in lustrous 3D.
Formed in the early '70s by Florian Schneider and Ralf Huttler, Kraftwerk's early music belongs to the experimental brand of Teutonic rock known as Krautrock. With the release of Autobahn in 1974, the band made their first foray into the electronic territory they have become known for, landing at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and becoming an international phenomenon. A streak of influential albums followed in the '70s and '80s, cementing their place as electro demigods and introducing listeners to a forward-looking sonic world characterized by vocoders, drum machines, and an ever-growing arsenal of synths. In 2003, the band topped the charts for the first time in their native Germany with Tour de France Soundtracks, their first album of new material since 1986's Electric Cafe.