German Engineering

December 15, 2011

Jeremy Earl, G. Lucas Crane, Kevin Morby and Jarvis Taveniere are Brooklyn-based band Woods.

On their latest album, “Sun and Shade,” Brooklyn-based experimental rockers Woods are all about the krautrock. Birthed in early-’70s Germany and characterized by electronic textures, rigid 4/4 drumbeats and a general disregard for traditional song structure, krautrock doesn’t have the most PC tag. But it has influenced generations of electronic artists, avant-garde composers and indie rock bands. Ahead of Woods’ show Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel, we offer a handy primer on the genre.

Tangerine Dream: Remember the eerie synth music that played during Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay’s train sex scene in “Risky Business”? That was Tangerine Dream, which formed in 1967 and explored a dark ambience that made it an ideal soundtrack group. Where to start: “Rubycon” (1975)

Can: One of the genre’s most revered bands, Can emphasized what it called “collective spontaneity,” which took the form of hypnotic, repetitive rhythms and lead singer Damo Suzuki’s chanted, unintelligible vocals. Where to start: “Future Days” (1973)

Kraftwerk: This Düsseldorf group pioneered the “robot pop” genre, using homemade synths and vocoders. In the mid-’70s, it scored a surprise hit with “Autobahn,” which remains one of the best road-trip songs ever devised. Where to start: “Autobahn” (1974)

Neu!: An offshoot of Kraftwerk, Neu! was never very popular in its day. Perhaps that had something to do with the band’s penchant for 10-minute-long instrumental jams — like krautrock classic “Hallogallo,” off the band’s first album. Where to start: “Neu!” (1972)

Harmonia: Krautrock’s first supergroup featured members of Neu! and (briefly) Brian Eno, who famously declared it “the world’s most important rock group.” The band’s best recordings were made in 1976 and then shelved for more than 30 years, rabidly sought after by collectors. Where to start: “Tracks & Traces” (2009)

Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE; Sat., 8 p.m., $12; 202-388-7625.
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