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Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine [Aka: Die Mensch-Maschine] CD (album) cover

THE MAN-MACHINE [AKA: DIE MENSCH-MASCHINE]

Kraftwerk

 

Progressive Electronic

3.94 | 326 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Kraftwerk's best album

4.5 stars

Seventh studio opus by the Düsseldorf music workers, "The Man-Machine" is the first and only one to feature only original and structured songs. This tune, the band has finally refined its formula and fully focused on every title: no more experimentations, no more fillers (such as the middle tracks on "Radio-Activity") and no variations from existing themes (such as "Metal On Metal" on "Trans-Europe Express"). Clean and precise. The result is simply one of the most successful achievement of electronica in history, pioneering for the 70's and highly influential for the decades to come.

By exploring the concept of interaction between man and machine, KRAFTWERK reaches its pinnacle of his retro- futuristic ambitions, musically speaking, and instrumentally too. Way ahead of its time, this clever mixture of cold robotic sonorities with catchy melodies foreshadows multiple genres, such as techno, new-wave, synth-pop, and will become a huge success all over the world. "The Man-Machine" also marks the first participation of drummer Karl Bartos at composition.

The first side is just gorgeous. I was blown away when I discover "The Robots" and its futuristic ramshackle electro pulse. This is nearly techno... in the 70's! An anomaly, a genuine sonic meteorite, truly innovative at a time progressive electronic was just turning melodic and becoming accessible to people. This sounds even more modern than 80's new-wave and house music! Needless to say more, simply my favorite KRAFTWERK song ever! After a mysterious introduction, the dreamy "Spacelab" will softly transport you in orbit. Supported by a disco beat à la Giorgio Moroder, this classy relaxing track is a real little trip to space. Beautiful! Certainly a reference to Fritz Lang's well-known science-fiction movie, "Metropolis" is on the contrary dark and oppressive, well transcribing the retro- futuristic vibe of the city. You're running through the Kafkaian city escaping an invisible threat, like Blade Runner, a few years before! The unexpected rhythm change is great, this section has maybe inspired Chris Huelsbeck for his "Turrican" video-game soundtracks.

The second side is also good but contains a few lengthy moments. Released as a single, "The Model" is a deliciously retro catchy synth-pop tune, foreshadowing DEPECHE MODE and new-wave during the following decade. Surprisingly, although KRAFTWERK contributed to its birth, the band won't follow the genre, even in the 80's, remaining faithful to their techno-pop direction. Longest title of the disc, the floating "Neon Lights" is also the slowest. Synthesizers display an enchanting and ethereal atmosphere, slightly evolving through nice crystalline additions. Pleasant, although a bit long. The album concludes with its title song, which is unfortunately the only average passage of the record. Quite odd, as, since "Autobahn", all title songs were the best tracks of their respective opuses. This robotic tune is rather fun and playful at the beginning, but repeats itself without much variations and therefore tends to become a little monotonous.

Anyway, "The Man-Machine" remains KRAFTWERK's artistic summit and a visionary disc. By polishing their formula on each track and applying delicious melodies on futuristic sonorities, the German delivers here the best electronic pop album of the 70's, fully opening new horizons for numerous artists for the years to come.

A milestone, the one to start with if you don't know the band, and simply essential for anyone interested in electronic music in general!

Modrigue | 4/5 |

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