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




Progressive Electronic

3.94 | 373 ratings

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4 stars Kraftwerk is a band that sits a bit awkward on the PA pages. They originated in the Kraut scene, the German answer to the mainly symphonic prog-rock from the UK. But gradually they evolved into something entirely different. They even originated a set of genres that must be a normal proglover's nightmare: synth pop, new wave, new beat, EBM and a lot of the techno scene.

However, Kraftwerk themselves seem to have earned some respect among proggers here, which is great to see. Glad not to be alone. Man Machine is Kraftwerk's defining album and the high point of a 5 year evolution starting from Kraut rock morphing into electronic progressive and finally turning to a completely stripped down version of that type of music.

While Tangerine Dream, Schulze and Ashra created intricate compositions with layers of progressing themes, Kraftwerk made the decision to throw all that overboard and just preserve the few best sequences and melodies out of possibly hours of improvisations and experimentations. To compensate for that minimalism they put more emphasis on the rhythmic backbone of the music and - probably the reason why they are so widely respected - they managed to craft catchy and memorable songs from their sparse mechanical ingredients. And great songs are aplenty on this album. In fact, there's not one weaker track here.

I have only one minor quibble with this and the other great Kraftwerk albums. That would be the rather flat and dated drum sounds. Of course, those were due to the technical limitations of the time. Maybe they even inspired Kraftwerk to compensate the problem by an even stronger focus on great songs. Who knows? In the techno scene especially, technical possibilities can be inspiring but more often then not they make the artist lazy and cause formulaic sounding music that misses experimentalism and inventively. And we certainly can't blame Kraftwerk for that.

I reserved my Kraftwerk 5-star for their stunning live album Minimum Maximum that has most of their classic tracks and also resolved most of the sound problems here. Looking at it from a historical perspective this one is of course every bit as entitled to 5 stars.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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