HARDHOUND

Kraftwerk – Autobahn (UK version)

Author: Colin | Published: 27/6/09

kraftwerk-autobahn-1

kraftwerk-autobahn-1

kraftwerk-autobahn-1

kraftwerk-autobahn-1

Artist Kraftwerk
Title Autobahn
Label Vertigo
Year 1974
Designer Unknown, possibly Barney Bubbles
Music Electronic
Notes This is an absolutely iconic design and it’s an oddity because this design was only distributed in the UK. We’ll post about the design for the rest of the world in a few days.

I first saw this version at the tender age of 8, in 1974, when my dad brought it home. A lifelong classical music stalwart, Autobahn was his one concession to popular music and it had a profound effect on me. I listened to the 22 minute title track over and over again on his headphones, loving the synthesized sound of the cars whooshing from one ear to the other, right through the middle of my head. The bridge that crosses the two white lines always seemed to symbolise my headphones listening in to the roar of traffic martialled into a modern-day symphony. The two pieces of brown sticky tape affixed to the lower corners makes my copy unique. I recently asked why they were there and was reminded that my Dad had to repair the sleeve after numerous borrowings in my teenage years. It’s the nearest thing to a family heirloom I’ve got.

Autobahn is fascinating because of its translation of the concept of travel into musical form. This transmission from one medium to another wasn’t a new one, but the extent to which it reduced the distance between musical composition and referent was and remains striking. Its central motif isn’t a melody, but the sound of cars approaching and moving away from the listener. The design perfectly encapsulates this by appropriating the motorway symbol and placing it so that it fills the cover from top to bottom. There is no end to the journey in graphic terms, it’s implied that the road continues outside the frame of the cover. Similarly the music ends with one more passing car rather than the sound, say, of an engine being turned off (Autobahn’s railway counterpart, Trans-Europe Express, ends with the sound of train brakes squealing).

Typographically, the design is fascinating as well. The letters R, W, R, A, U, A and H in the title are escaping from their settings, literally tracing new roads, setting off for  destinations unknown. At the same time they’re dancing – the W, U and H waving and punching the air and the Rs and As stretching their toes out. The letter forms presage the tremendous influence the group would have on dance music and on the musical world as a whole. Similarly, the icon-focused design was the approach the group would take in its latterday releases, except that from Man Machine onwards they made the four members of the group integral to each design. The graphic below is from the group’s yet to be released career retrospective:

katalog

Autobahn is an utterly brilliant synergy between music, concept and visual design. One last thing: there’s no designer credit on the Autobahn sleeve which seems fittingly utilitarian.

See also:
Discussion: Who designed this version of Autobahn? on { feuilleton }
Autobahn (non-uk version)
Minimum Maximum CD/DVD box
Neon Lights 12″
Pocket Calculator 7″


Comments

  1. […] all means this is an impressive record. And I’ve never read a description quite amazing as this one by this guy Colin from Hardformat. It says it all about the music, the atmosphere, the visuals and […]

  2. Is this the original sleeve? Or was this some sort of UK re-issue?

    I’ve always thought the sleeve was the sleeve with the paste-up/cut-outs of the German cars on the road with the sun setting behind the hills.

    The inner sleeve was the blue and white road iconography.

    Comment by Jinsai — June 29, 2009 @ 9:00 pm
  3. Hello Jinsai, I guess my notes should have explained – I’ll update them. This was, I believe, the UK cover. It’s unclear why it was so markedly different from the rest of the world. I’m going to do the next post on the other version. I don’t think the inner sleeve ever featured the road icon, but as you’ll see the front sleeve did sport at least on some versions a sticker bearing the image.

    Comment by me — June 29, 2009 @ 9:45 pm
  4. […] via Hardformat Autobahn UK version […]

    Pingback by llell | Autobahn — July 20, 2009 @ 9:50 am
  5. I love this version.

    Comment by Johnny Depp — August 2, 2009 @ 11:34 am
  6. Hardformat » Kraftwerk – Autobahn (UK version)
    [url=http://www.rogervivierparis.com/roger-vivier-pumps-c-3.html]Roger Vivier Outlet[/url]

    Comment by Roger Vivier Outlet — October 8, 2019 @ 5:19 am
  7. Hardformat » Kraftwerk – Autobahn (UK version)
    [url=http://www.rogervivierparis.com/roger-vivier-pumps-c-3.html]Roger Vivier Online[/url]

    Comment by Roger Vivier Online — October 8, 2019 @ 5:21 am
  8. If you wish for to take much from this paragraph then you have to apply
    these strategies to your won web site.

    Comment by plenty of fish dating site — November 26, 2019 @ 12:49 am
  9. Terrific article! That is the type of info that should be shared across the internet.

    Shame on Google for no longer positioning this post higher!

    Come on over and seek advice from my web site . Thanks =)

    Comment by ps4 games — November 29, 2019 @ 3:54 am
  10. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was curious what all is required to get setup?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty
    penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% positive. Any suggestions or advice
    would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks

    Comment by quest bars cheap — December 2, 2019 @ 12:41 am
  11. We stumbled over here from a different web address and thought I
    might check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you.
    Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

    Comment by quest bars cheap coupon twitter — December 3, 2019 @ 6:51 am
  12. Hardformat » Kraftwerk – Autobahn (UK version)

    Comment by cheap christian louboutin pumps — December 4, 2019 @ 7:21 pm
  13. Hardformat » Kraftwerk – Autobahn (UK version)

    Comment by mackage jackets — December 4, 2019 @ 7:21 pm
  14. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.

    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I will certainly comeback.

    Comment by ps4 games — December 6, 2019 @ 6:35 am
  15. You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be
    really something which I think I would never understand.
    It sort of feels too complex and extremely vast for me. I’m having a look ahead to your next put up,
    I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!

    Comment by ps4 games — December 6, 2019 @ 3:37 pm
  16. I am extremely impressed with your writing abilities as smartly as with
    the format to your weblog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway stay up the excellent high quality writing, it is rare to
    see a nice weblog like this one these days..

    Comment by ps4 games — December 10, 2019 @ 6:30 pm
  17. I have learn a few just right stuff here. Definitely price
    bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot effort you put to create one of these wonderful informative site.

    Comment by ps4 games — December 12, 2019 @ 7:04 pm
  18. Awesome issues here. I’m very happy to peer your
    post. Thank you so much and I’m taking a look ahead to contact you.
    Will you kindly drop me a mail?

    Comment by ps4 games — December 14, 2019 @ 4:23 am
  19. Hello! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or
    maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My website addresses
    a lot of the same topics as yours and I feel we could greatly
    benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to send me an email.

    I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

    Comment by coconut oil — December 16, 2019 @ 7:34 am
  20. I am genuinely delighted to read this website posts which contains plenty
    of useful information, thanks for providing these statistics.

    Comment by coconut oil — December 21, 2019 @ 10:27 am
  21. You could certainly see your expertise within the article
    you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as you who
    are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

    Comment by mobile legends estes — December 26, 2019 @ 6:45 pm
  22. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact used to be a enjoyment account it.

    Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

    Comment by plenty of fish vs match.com free trial — December 30, 2019 @ 1:14 pm
  23. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s
    both educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy that I found this during my
    search for something regarding this.

    Comment by sling tv — January 1, 2020 @ 1:24 pm
  24. Do you have any video of that? I’d care to find out more details.

    Comment by sling tv — January 3, 2020 @ 4:46 am
  25. Hi! I know this is somewhat off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does managing a well-established website like yours take a large amount of work?
    I am brand new to writing a blog but I do write in my diary every day.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my own experience and views
    online. Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Thankyou!

    Comment by sling tv — January 7, 2020 @ 11:55 am
  26. Currently it seems like WordPress is the top blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

    Comment by sling tv — January 14, 2020 @ 6:59 am
  27. If some one wants to be updated with latest technologies after that he must be pay a visit this web site and be up to
    date everyday.

    Comment by sling tv — January 14, 2020 @ 12:54 pm
  28. Wow, this article is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing such things, therefore I
    am going to tell her.

    Comment by sling tv — January 15, 2020 @ 8:16 am
  29. This is probably the win out over essence i be enduring seen so far.

    Comment by used for — January 16, 2020 @ 11:30 pm
  30. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where
    u got this from. thanks a lot

    Comment by sling tv — January 17, 2020 @ 1:21 am
  31. It’s truly a great and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you
    shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by click here — January 18, 2020 @ 10:35 pm
  32. Very nice blog post. I absolutely appreciate this website.

    Comment by chris1johnson.exblog.jp — January 19, 2020 @ 10:44 pm

Comment?

To submit your comment and help me with comment spam,
please do this sum and then click Submit Comment above, thanks:

What is 13 + 14 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is: