Some background info to Kraftwerk's
first German single release, 'Kohoutek-Kometenmelodie', by IC
Ever wondered what 'Kohoutek' was, as in the bands first single 'Kohoutek - Kometenmelodie'? Kohoutek was in fact the name given to a much-hyped comet that passed by the earth in 1973/74, named after its discoverer, Dr Lobus Kohoutek, a Czechoslovakian astronomer working from Hamburg Observatory, who discovered two such comets within a space of ten days in the first half of 1973. Before the comet's appearance it had been widely predicted that it would be the 'comet of the century' and put on a more dazzling nightly display than that provided by Halley's comet in 1910, perhaps even greater than the most spectacular example, from a century earlier, the great comet of 1811.
Presumably, Kraftwerk must have felt that a song to mark this event was in order, hence the single. On this single, the versions are the reverse of what we are more accustomed to on the 'Autobahn' LP; that is to say the 'fast' version is part one, the slower version part two. It works better on the 'Autobahn' LP, where we can easily imagine that part one's slow, minimal style reflects the comet's long period away from the solar system, a dim ball of rock and ice, drifting through the dark, cold depths of space. Part two sees it radiate into life, as it enters the solar system and is heated by the suns rays, producing the coma, its brilliant tail that makes the comet visible from earth.
So why is there no reference to 'Kohoutek' on the versions from the 'Autobahn' LP you may ask? Well, going back a bit, I mentioned that there was anticipation that the comet would be a spectacular one. In actual fact, the comet was a celebrated flop; it did not ignite into life anywhere near what was predicted, no doubt why it has passed into the depths of history as well as back into the depths of space. But the comet is due to reappear - in 10 million years or so! You may well ask what will appear first - the comet or the new Kraftwerk LP ?! A newly discovered comet, Hale-Bopp, is setting records even now, it being the most distant comet ever found, and by the time it appears nearer to the sun in 1997, may even better 1811's great comet. If no new LP, maybe a single then?!!
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010