In 1968, a pair of classically trained
musicians named Ralf Hütter
and Florian Schneider
left their musical studies at the Düsseldorf Conservatory
to form an avant-garde
, improvisational group known as Organisation. Touring universities and galleries around Germany
, this little-known band spun a blend of spontaneous, experimental
, repetitive and challenging post-rock. Despite the English name (and a UK-only record deal), Organisation was an intensely German
group, consciously rejecting the globally dominant American and British rock
music in favor of the new sounds rising from the cultural ruin of postwar
Though Organisation was perhaps too isolationist to be considered the part of any "scene," they were obliquely associated with kraut rock due to their similarity in style and inspiration. Contemporaries such as Can and Amon Düül were making similar fare to Organisation, although Hütter and Schneider were nowhere near as talented at composing this kind of music. The music itself attempted to hide any inspirations, but the styles of king noisemaker Karlheinz Stockhausen and avant-garde collectives such as the Fluxus group were obvious influences.
By 1969, kraut rock had reached cult status, and the scene began moving to record labels and releasing vinyls. 1970 was the true explosion, as Can's genre-defining Tago Mago was released and Tangerine Dream unleashed their debut, Electronic Meditation. Meanwhile, RCA agreed to release Organisation's debut, Tone Float, in England - a rarity at this early stage of kraut rock (RCA would come to regret the decision).
Tone Float was recorded in an abandoned refinery by engineer/producer/legend Conny Plank. The band's lineup at this time was Hütter on electric organ, Schneider on flute and violin, Butch Hauf on bass, Fred Monicks on drums, and Basil Hammoudi on the rare vocals. Sonically, it bears some resemblance to early Pink Floyd, or perhaps the outer fringes of jazz. With no hooks, no compromises to conventional song structure, little emotional content, downright strange percussion, and the occasional wave of feedback, it's no surprise that this album ended up in few hands. There are moments when it sounds like things are coming together just right, but they are few and far between. This is challenging music, trying to go many directions at once. It's the sound of wasted potential.
Bootleg versions of the album feature a song called "Vor Dem Blauen Bock," recorded on the German music program Beatclub. This song contains many more ideas, as well as a few long-needed concessions to the mainstream world of rock and roll, and is worth tracking down as the best representation of Organisation's creative capability. Consider it the bright spot in a dim career. The commercial flop of Tone Float was not Organisation's death sentence, but the differences in musical opinion forming among the participants spelled the end for the shortlived band. Hütter and Schneider left to pursue a noisier, more industrial form of popular music. They quickly created a popular kraut rock duo far above Organisation in every respect. It is this band that would later evolve into Kraftwerk, international superstars and founders of modern popular electronic music.