I must admit, I am 35 years late to the Krautrock party. Sure I'd heard of Kraftwerk when they had their hits on the radio in the 80's, but it never did much for me. However, a couple of weeks ago, I happened to hear an interview with guitarist Michael Rother of the band Neu! Rother and his musical partner Klaus Dinger played in an early incarnation of Kraftwerk in 1971 and then split off into a new direction forming the band Neu!
While the band never really broke out beyond indie status and recorded just 3 albums in 4 years, they went on to leave a huge imprint on many later bands. Listening to Neu! and later albums from Rother in his subsequent band Harmonia helps explain the link between punk and the sounds of Public Image Limited in a way that I never understood before. You can hear the Keith Levene style guitar themes and the steady "Motorik" drumming. Neu! also influenced later bands like Joy Division, Radiohead and Stereolab among others.
Finally after so many years, and unfortunately after Dinger's passing away in 2008, the band is getting it's due. There's a Box Set available (including a fourth album that was never officially released) as well as possible tour by Michael Rother.
I can't say this is music I would listen to at all times. And to be clear, it's not the most soulful music. But when it works, it works really well. I've been listening to Neu! and Harmonia when I'm out running and this is the perfect music to keep you focused and on the beat for many many miles.