Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kraftwerk - "The Man Machine"

Yeah - I know. It's Kraftwerk, the band that pioneered electro, techno, inspired hiphop legend Afrika Bambaataa to record "Planet Rock", and so on, and so forth. Nothing new in that.
So why not just revel in the band itself, and it's sound? Yessir, coming up.

1978's Man-Machine is a perfectly good example of what they were good at in their heyday: Minimal electronic beats, sprinkled with cold - even clinical, synth melodies and topped off with minimal and sometimes naive lyrics sung with detachedment and heavy german accent (in the german-market version "Mensch-Maschine" the lyrics are of course in german).
This record has everything I like about electronic music: Meditative/hypnotic beats, simple tunes, inventiveness in sound design, and most importantly - lots of space for the sounds to breathe! "Man-Machine" has so many gorgeous sounds, but still the compositions are sparse enough in their (as Frank Zappa would say) "statistical density", that there is actually time to enjoy the sounds themselves. A high rate of repetition of the little melodies, single-notes and simple rythmic elements helps in that respect too.

Standout tracks for me would have to be opening track "The Robots" (try listening to this one LOUD on big speakers!), "Neon Lights", and title track "The Man-Machine". But really, it's all great. The most famous song on this album is, without a doubt, "The Model", and it's alright. But compared to the rest, it feels kinda like the hit song that "had to be on the album", but doesn't fit in 100%. I'm probably wrong though, and it is a good song.
Do yourself a favor and listen to this highly original piece of electronica.

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