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Remembering Tony Allen and Florian Schneider, Two Pillars of Rhythm


We’re only in the fifth month of 2020, but it has already been an uncommonly painful one in the world of music — the list of greats who have died has been long and wide-ranging.

Two of these artists — Tony Allen, who played with Fela Kuti in Africa 70, and Florian Schneider, one of the founders of Kraftwerk — were working on evolutions in rhythm in the same time frame but in vastly different fashions. Allen, influenced by various regional African styles and American jazz, among other things, gave Kuti’s Afrobeat a complex undertow, both steady and fanciful. Schneider, along with his co-founder Ralf Hütter, helped turn Kraftwerk into a band that embodied the possibilities of technology, and which set the table for electro, new wave, techno and more.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about these twin pillars of rhythm, and how they were responding to similar impulses — thousands of miles apart, and with radically different tools at their disposal.

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