Ralf und Florian (English title: Ralf and Florian) is the third studio album by the German electronic band Kraftwerk. It was released in October 1973 on Philips. Unlike Kraftwerk's later albums, which featured language-specific lyrics, only the titles differ between the English and German editions.
Along with Kraftwerk's first two albums, Ralf und Florian to date has never been officially re-issued on compact disc. However, the album remains an influential and sought-after work, and bootlegged CDs were widely distributed in the 1990s on the Germanofon label. The band hinted that the album may finally see a re-mastered CD release after issuing the box set The Catalogue in the autumn of 2009.
As indicated by the title (and like their previous album), all the tracks were written, performed and produced by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider, with the sessions engineered by the influential Konrad "Conny" Plank. The album has a fuller and more polished sound quality than previous efforts, and this is clearly due to the use of a number of commercial recording studios in addition to Kraftwerk's own yet-to-be-named Kling Klang. The colour photograph on the back of the cover gives a vivid impression of the bohemian state of Kraftwerk's own facilities at the time – including egg-box trays pasted, nailed, or stuck on the walls for soundproofing.
The album is still almost entirely instrumental (some wordless yodelling appears in "Tanzmusik", and "Ananas Symphonie" features the band's first use of a machine voice created by an early prototype vocoder, a sound which would later become a Kraftwerk trademark). Instrumentation begins to show more obvious use of synthesizers (Minimoog and EMS AKS), but most melodic and harmonic keyboard parts are performed on Farfisa electronic piano/organ. Flute and guitar are still much in evidence. The band were still without a drummer, and several tracks, particularly "Tanzmusik", make use of a preset organ rhythm machine. "Kristallo" features a striking rhythmic electronic bassline (actually created on the EMS synthesizer with the aid of the vocoder), however in general the album is much gentler and less rhythmically precise than Kraftwerk's later electronic work.
The LP included a "musicomic" poster insert of cartoons by Emil Schult, who had been playing electric violin live with the band (although he does not feature on the album recordings). Schult remained a collaborator of Kraftwerk. The cartoons illustrated each track on the album, as well as the city of Düsseldorf, with the caption "In Düsseldorf am Rhein, klingt es bald!", which translates literally in English as "In Düsseldorf on the Rhine, it will sound soon" (perhaps the phrase "the sound gets around" captures the snappy feel of the maxim better). This is kind of a reference to Kraftwerk's Düsseldorf-based Kling Klang studio.
The album was a modest success in Germany. Drummer Wolfgang Flür was recruited to play with Ralf and Florian for a subsequent promotional TV appearance in Berlin, for the German WDR TV arts show Aspekte. He became a member of the group thereafter.
- Side one
- "Elektrisches Roulette" ("Electric Roulette") – 4:20
- "Tongebirge" ("Mountain of Sound") – 2:50
- "Kristallo" ("Crystals") – 6:20
- "Heimatklänge" ("The Bells of Home") – 3:45
- Side two
- "Tanzmusik" ("Dance Music") – 6:35
- "Ananas Symphonie" ("Pineapple Symphony") – 13:55
Note: The above English translations are taken from the US version of the album issued by Vertigo in 1975.
- Ralf Hütter – vocals, keyboards, electronics, string instruments (guitar and bass), drums and percussion
- Florian Schneider-Esleben – vocals, keyboards, electronics, string and wind instruments (flute and violin), percussion
- Emil Schult – "musicomix" poster design.
- Konrad "Conny" Plank – sound engineer.
- Barbara Niemöller – rear cover photo.
- Robert Franck – front cover photo.