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




Progressive Electronic

3.95 | 344 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the third effort by the line-up that got started with "Radioactivity", and you can tell that the quartet has been making a large amount of progress in their quest for an increasingly robust management of the electronic paraphernalia in their urban-centric music. "The Man-Machine", more than a portrait of a future cybernetic world, seems to have been brought to us from a future time itself via a time machine: there is a perfect conjunction between the world of machines, robots and space labs that is hinted to and the material contained in this album. Karl Bartos starts to use his portion of electronic percussives as a melodic source that adds effective colours to the usual labors delivered by Schneider and Hutter: the relevance of Bartos' creative input is displayed irrefutably in the namesake closing track and the catchy opening track, just to mention the most outstanding examples. Another remarkable feature is that the band's overall sound feels less uptight than in their previous two albums and much more stylish: at times, the sonic environment feels amazingly eerie, while keeping that special pop sensibility (provided by the lead synth melodies and the electronic drum rhythm patterns) that Kraftwerk have by now grown to master convincingly and flawlessly. Well, as I mentioned before, the opening track is quite catchy, with its robotic nuances and delicate interplays between the electronic keyboards and percussions: a display of human intelligence functioning among all those devices. 'Spacelab' and 'Metropolis' are showcases of that highlighted eerie ambience I also mentioned earlier: the way that the synth lines and layers go floating on and on is simply captivating, while the harmonic and rhythm sequences lay out a solid, palpitating foundation that serves as an ethereal architectural scheme. The same thing will be retaken in the mesmeric 'Neon Lights', the longest and, arguably, the most effective number in the album: a special mention goes to the final section of this particular track, in which a reprised set of layers (initially played in the interlude) is augmented by assorted adornments, all of them stretching out the idea of constant illumination and persistent splendour. Tracks 2, 3 & 5 are definitively as progressive as techno Kraftwerk can get: what we get here is a glimpse of a whole new perspective of an orchestra, a digital kind of orchestra. Right before the ambitious track 5, there is the simplest one, 'The Model': this one was actually released as the first single A-side (reaching no. 1 in the UK charts in an early 80s re- release), and it sure works as an effective, glamorous, not too complicated song to dance to in a disco and listen to indulgently on a radio - I find the main motif quite pretty. The closing namesake track brings back some of the rough energy that had been more overtly present in "Trans-Europe Express", but with a stylish flavor that is coherent with this album's overall tendency. Now, here comes the question: does a review on this album belong in a prog music e-zine? Maybe not totally, but "The Man Machine" is not your regular pop album, either: this is, basically, the apex of techno-era Kraftwerk, full of clever ideas that usually stand laying subtly, underneath, in the very layers and the percussive interplays of Bartos and Flür. It is precisely this kind of subtlety a factor that might as well be appreciated by a prog fan. At least, the prog fan who writes this review does.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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