Florian Schneider was co-founder of Kraftwerk with Ralf Hutter. Originally a flautist and violinist, he began experimenting with effects such as echo and reverb to expand the instruments’ capabilities. Flute was predominantly used on the rare album ‘Ralf and Florian’. After their breakthrough album ‘Autobahn’, (that also featured the flute on its B-side), the duo became truly synthetic and embraced the synthesizer.
Kraftwerk’s impact on the musical landscape cannot be overstated; at times it was like they had a crystal ball envisaging future events. The album ‘Computer World ‘(1981) alone predicted online banking, Tinder, and the ubiquitous home computer.
With the advent of techno and dance culture they were the touchstone of synthetic excellence, to the point that they had to release their own remix of their back catalogue, having been plundered relentlessly by the sampling generation.
Yet behind the austere Germanic veneer they projected, lurked a sly humour, constantly playing with juxtapsitions of futurism and nostalgia, poker face and smirks, and Florian was the cheeky wink in the eye of the face-value coldness.
David Bowie was in awe of him and wrote the track V-2 Schneider as a tribute on the album ‘Heroes’.
His departure from the band in 2008 marked the end of an era, disheartening diehard fans and leaving Hutter to carry on the legacy to this day.
Florian Schneider died of cancer at the age of 73. The history of music lost an enigmatic innovator today.