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Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine) CD (album) cover

THE MAN-MACHINE (DIE MENSCH-MASCHINE)

Kraftwerk

Progressive Electronic


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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.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#34616)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
theinfiltrate
5 stars I didn't imagine they could beat Trans-Europe Express with this one, but it turns out that this one's even better! It is different from that one, since the sound of this one's special: it's not as repetitive, there's a lot of interesting stuff happening most of the time, and the atmosphere and the concept is different: they are now speaking about robots, technology, and the technological growth on cities and that kind of stuff. "The Robots" is amazing (thanks to how the synths interact), and so is "The Model" (which you probably know, a nice pop song with good melodies). The title track is the worst since it's main synth riff gets annoying, but "Spacelab" is also great, since its synths are really evocative, sounding melancholic and nostalgic, but with also they sound "futuristic" in a way. A nice combination. It also has good percussion. "Metropolis" has an amazing groove, and "Neon Lights" has even more amazing synths that sound as close to "lights" as possible. Overall a great effort, with a unique atmosphere. I'm surprised by the fact that this one has hardly dated, even though this kind of music and concept might seem as it would sound "cliched" after so many years.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#34620)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now this is a real cult classic of an album, and its great I whuldent say its beter then the one befor Trans Europe Express but its absolutly on the same level and depending on your taste you may like this more or a litle less then T.E.E. well i have to say i like Trans Europe a litle more then this but still this is a real masterpiece dont belive anything else and its a continuing on the musical revolution started with "Autobahn" the first track on the album The Robots is a classic synth pop song, and its fantastic love the robot vocals very futuristic, Spacelab next a great instrumental and its yust as the title say it makes you feel like your in a spacelab, realy cool. Metropolis is next and its a sad and depresiv sounding song, but its very good and the comes one of the best songs on the album and on that shuld have been a single i dont know if it ever was but it shuld have been, its one of the best synth pop songs ever done and a perfect pop tune the synth beat is very catchy, neon light comes afther that and its a long good pice with good melody, The title track is the last on the album and its my least favorite on the album still its preety good yust dont very memorable or yust dont as memorable as the rest, atleast i dont think so. alla in all this is a very good record and one of Kraftwerks best.

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Send comments to Zargus (BETA) | Report this review (#36750)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Not a lot to add to the comments of the other reviewers, especially Cesar Loyola's excellent in depth analysis.

This album is Kraftwerk's masterpiece, the result of several years of patient development of what was then a new aesthetic of 'pure' electronic music. By this stage Kraftwerk were using solely self built or custom built equipment, with not a conventional instrument to be heard. Karl Bartos had emerged as Ralf Hutter's principal co-writer, with Florian Schneider contributing to the composition of just two songs. The sound engineers specialised in disco rather than rock, and it shows in the heavy rhythmic tracks that underpin the whole album. This album was also Kraftwerk's most fully realised concept to date, exploring the relationship between man and technology and speculating on how machines were becoming more human and vice versa. The human heart still beat at the core, however - the detached romance of The Model and the admiration of the beauty of the city in Neon Lights balance the alienation of Metropolis or the creepy ambiguity of The Robots (the Russian lyrics translate as 'I am your servant - I am your friend').

Is it prog? Some will argue that prog shouldn't be this danceable, or will be put off by the overt pop sensibility evident in The Model. As other reviewers have pointed out, however, there is more than enough subtlety and complexity here to satisfy the broad minded prog listener, and the influence of this album on music of the last 25 years cannot be overstated. Essential listening.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#37134)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Die Mensch-Maschine' was released in 1978 and this record has to be mainly judged with outer musical criteria. Since their begining Kraftwerk was interested in combining music and art. 'Kraftwerk' come from the industrial region of Germany and expressed their interest for industrial processes an technic in general, hence their name Kraftwerk =Power Plant. As the programmatical title the cover, inspired by a work of constructiviste artist El Lissitzky, expressed the fascination for technic.The whole concept was reinforced by the idea to create dummies representing the members which/who were introduced officially during a Parisian press presentation , while the Kraftwerk members were hiding and showed up only at the end.(The dummies were used later during concerts)

Kraftwerk were not interested in direct political statements and the 'Man-Machine' is mainly a Fashion and Art statement, that would lead indirectly to the point of no return. Whereas in former records there were still hints of social commentary, the 'Man-Machine' run on it's own closed circuit. Kraftwerk had reached the highest point of their artistic expression and at the same time an esthetic overkill. Now what about the music : in the meantime Dance music had arrived and was made fashionable thaks to artists like David Bowie. 'Kraftwerk' invented with this record, that was largely played in discotheques, Electro Pop with catchy melodies and sequenced rhythm patterns.

'The Robots (Die Roboter)' a programmatic opener with an angular 'robot' rhythm and the Russian vocals another hint to the russian constructivism movement, followed by 'Spacelab' a soundtrack for a SF movie with large spacy movements.

'Metropolis' a hommage to the German director Fritz Lang with one of the most sampled trademark drum sounds.

Side Two opens with the hit single 'The Model (Das Modell)' maybe one of the most perfect pop tunes ever and the ultimate Kraftwerk song inventing here single handed Electro Pop. BTW the German Vocals are slightly ironic, a point missing in the English version.

'Neon Lights (Neon Licht)' a pseudo folk song with a oversimplified melody line corresponding to the banal lyrics, an hommage to big citys and their hometown Düsseldorf in particular. Still composition-wise the most interesting track of the record, with a phase shifted counterpoint melody using minimalism techniques.

'The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine)' is the only track with a hint of social comment "the man machine/ a being or an object" ("ein Wesen oder Ding") with a dark menacing athmosphere.

'The Man Machine 'is the most influancial 'Kraftwerk' record, that introduced Electro Pop and combined Fashion, Art and Music in a highly sophisticated way.

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#81210)
Posted Thursday, June 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Being number 1 on the progarchives I, er.. bought it with high expectations. I was thoroughly disappointed. It was strangely reminiscent of Pop music, as in no talent and no good music/sound. I only suggest Man Machine if you like to hear "beep boop" for 36 minutes. With bad lyrics and music made into a drone, i only suggest it for heavy drug users. I give it a 2 because it's bad music but the fans seem to like it.

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Send comments to rekabat (BETA) | Report this review (#101359)
Posted Friday, December 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Although electronic music is not my favorite genre, I do appreciate several groundbreaking, innovative and if you want provocative artists that expanded new dimensions of popular music and music in general.

One of them is surely KRAFTWERK whose influence on the pop music scene of the 1980s and beyond cannot be overestimated. "Man Machine" is a masterpiece of electronic, synthesizer-made music, which presented a bridge between earlier experimental psychedelic (and notably German Krautrock scene) and later post-new wave experimental and alternative rock expressions. Not going into elaborate details, one ought to mention that among the many followers and people directly or indirectly influenced by these German visioners, were so diverse musicians such as Texas noise/hard core anarchists Steve Albini and BIG BLACK (check their notorious cover of "Model", LP "Songs About Fucking", 1987) or synth-pop mega stars DEPECHE MODE, to mention a few.

Wonderful album from start to finish!

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#107437)
Posted Sunday, January 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars UNDER REVISION!

But this isn't prog music, it's far too DANCEABLE!

That is (unfortunately) an all too common complaint about this album (and, even more unfortunately, one that I held for quite a long time). Thankfully, it's quite untrue, for even Zeuhl, one of the most difficult genres of prog (essentially bass guitar dominated RIO/avant; though there are other differences, the two genres are incredibly similar), is often danceable (Eskaton comes to mind). This album is truly marvelous, and while that may take several listens to discover, it's inevitable that it will happen sometime (at least for most people). This is quite possibly the most important progressive electronic album and my favorite by a hair over Trans-Europe Express, a hugely influential affair that shows that being progressive is not limited to any one style of music, but can be found in (almost) all avenues of creative sonic expression.

That brings me to another point I like to make from time to time in my reviews: what is the difference between 'prog' and 'progressive' music? For me, at least, 'prog' music is a set of characteristics that define music. These include extended compositions, odd time signatures, a tendency to take multiple listens to appreciate (especially true in the case of Kraftwerk, at least for me), and plenty of others. These characteristics are what bind all the bands accepted for inclusion on this site. 'Progressiveness,' however, is an entirely different beast. 'Progressiveness' is a mindset that bands/artists have when approaching music, the desire to do something different and new, to push the boundaries of music either in new directions or further in established directions, in essence, to redefine music. Kraftwerk isn't the most 'prog' band on the planet, but it is indisputable (whether you like them or not) that they are one of the most 'progressive.'

Now, back to the album in question. One look at the cover should give you an idea of what this album is like. It's methodical, meticulous, mechanical, ordered, structured, planned, and most of all, different. Unlike many of their German counterparts, such as CAN and Amon Duul II (and even NEU!, a band composed of two ex-Kraftwerk members), and perhaps even their early period as well, they leave little up to the imagination. They set it all right down in front of you for you to digest. They make their intentions clear, and you can either take it or leave it. I am not saying that this is bad, or that it's good, I'm simply saying that that's how the music is. I happen to like it. I also happen to like music that forces me to think more than this. Both are fine. Every detail of this album has clearly been planned to be the perfect note at the perfect time. Spontaneity is last thing you will ever get from this album (again, far removed from their German Krautrock counterparts).

Musically, of course, this is a purely electronic album (I don't think one "real" instrument is used, though given the brilliance of their synth and electronic percussion work, nothing is to be missed). Electronic beats are omnipresent, but unlike much modern electronica, they serve a purpose, and truly add to the song. What really makes this album worthwhile, however, is the band's absolutely incredible (and I cannot stress it enough) sense of melody. Every melody on this album is catchy as hell without sounding superficial. They will stick in your mind, and, ultimately, are what bring me back to this album time and time again. Every song on the album has more melody than most bands can put together in an entire career. It's simply incredible, and to me, at least, that is why this band is so amazing. I will be glad if I ever find another band with such delicate control over the ability of instruments to create beauty, to bring joy to the listener, in short, to make me feel happy. This album, without ever "rocking out," or even really moving much beyond a mellow pace, manages to captivate me and hold my interest for all thirty- six minutes without one dull moment. And keep in mind that I don't usually like such laid-back music as this. Die Mensch Machine (The Man Machine) has to be the single greatest exception to this 'rule' (along with Trans-Europa Express) I know.

I could talk about highlight songs, but what would be the point? They're all highlights. I don't dislike a single moment of a single song on here. The opener and closer (the two most important tracks on an album, in my opinion) are the two strongest, but the Spacelab, Metropolis, The Model, and Neon Lights are all on the same level. Neon Lights is probably the most 'prog' song on here at almost nine minutes and with several different stages, but all the others are plenty 'prog,' too. This is an album to tap your feet to (just try and resist the urge to move to it, I doubt you'll succeed). It works as both background music (because of its relaxed mood) and fully absorbing foreground music (because of its ability to engage the listener from the opening moments), and there's little more I can ask for in an album.

I used to think this album was dull and droll. Thankfully, I gave it enough listens that I began to see what others saw in it, preparing me for that one listen where it finally clicked (I'm sure you've all had similar experiences), and since then, I haven't been able to stop playing it. One last note before I wrap up my review: I own the English version of the album (The Man Machine). I haven't heard the German version (Die Mensch Machine), but I would advise you get it if you care about lyrics, because they are the weakest part of this album. If you don't really care about lyrics, either version is probably fine. Either way, it's a marvelous album, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Perfection is rarely ever reached, but this album comes close. A great introduction to progressive electronic music and one of my favorite albums. Just get it.

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Send comments to Pnoom! (BETA) | Report this review (#115866)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
FruMp
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Spacey and addictive.

I must say I'm not a fan of electronic music and I decided on a whim to give this album a shot and broaden my horizons and I really quite enjoyed it, I actually found it quite similar to a lot of post-rock I enjoy which just goes to show how influential KRAFTWERK are.

The music is quite sparse and usually involves a looping drum beat with a phasing bass arpeggio with various different synth melodies and sound effects interspersed throughout, and of course the trademark vocoded 'robot' vocals. The music is very washy yet rhythmic and it is very successful in conveying the image it was aiming for - a technologically futuristic scene in space and it is a very beautiful image indeed. The man-machine also for me invokes a sense of nostalgia for early videogame music (even though it predated most of it) due to the type of synths that are used, there are a lot of rich saw wave sounds and a lot of great analog sharp sounds.

Spacelab is an early highlight on the album, it is one of the spaciest songs on the album and contains some of my favourite synth sounds, there is also greta melody here which particularly surprised me (I never really expected it from electronic music). Neon Lights is my definite favourite on the album though, clocking in at nearly 9 minutes with singing for the first 2 and then we ascend to the heavens to watch the stars for the remaining 7 - I enjoy every minute of it, a fantastic progressive electronic song.

I'm continually surprised at myself over how much I like this album, I have never been a fan of electronic music in fact I used to actively bad mouth it but I let my prejudices go, got this album and was pleasantly surprised. Recommended to anyone into spacey electronic music.

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Send comments to FruMp (BETA) | Report this review (#143799)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not a fan of progressive electro, but this album is a wild card. Released in 1978, emotionless electro technicians released this album, titled "Die-Mensch Machine" (translation- "The Man-Machine). The album is only 6 tracks long, but every single one of those tracks has something to offer, whether it be the catchy "The Model", which is strangely uplifting in spite of it's droning electro tune and robotic vocals, or the nine minute mini-epic "Neon Lights", which has an almost festive feel to it. This is also the track that displays their progressive side the most, combining electro-pop with the symphonic stylings of bands such as Camel and Harmonium. The best track on this album in my opinion is "Spacelab", which combining an up tempo drum machine and synth-sound gave it a sound well ahead of it's time, with elements comparable to that of the rave music of the early/mid nineties. An excellent all rounder for any prog fans, this album is arguably THE essential electronic progressive album and would be a great addition to almost anybodies CD collection. 4 stars.

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Send comments to cynthiasmallet (BETA) | Report this review (#146946)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This one's so hard to review for me, since it's so different from anything else that I listen to. I am a fan of the raw sound of guitars drums and bass, rather than an ultra-refined electronic sound. But saying that I have to admit that this is one awesome album.

The synths and keyboards sound very good, and the electronic drums sound phenomenal. The vocals take a backseat for the majority of the record, but when they do appear they are integral to the robotic theme of the album.

'The Robots' is a great opener and the sound is very mechanical, but just loose enough to really dance to. 'Spacelab' is another excellent track that reminds me of a video game theme tune (especially Crash Bandicoot). This really does create the mood of space very well. 'Metropolis' isn't as memorable, but a strong track. 'The Model' is the hit single here, and the song that influenced me to buy the album. This is the most 'human' track on here (as opposed to a robot track) and has a brilliant keyboard riff. 'Neon Lights' is good, and the first few minutes always leave me with a warm felling inside. 'The Man Machine' is a good way to end, but not as good as the rest of the material on this disc.

Overall this a very original and clever album, without being very demanding, like a lot of prog is. A good album wether you want to really listen to it, or just use it as background music. 4 stars.

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Send comments to burtonrulez (BETA) | Report this review (#149397)
Posted Wednesday, November 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ja tvoi sluga...Ja tvoi rabotnik... We are the robots...toum toudidoum... This is an incredible electro album, definitely the best from Kraftwerk. Only 6 tracks (I love The Model and The Robots), no weak moments, everything's under control. 36 minutes of pure electronica music. You must listen to it before you die. The cover art is inspired by the USSR collectivism. But Kraftwerk was, at that time it existed, a DFR group ! Ah ah ah !

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Send comments to Zardoz (BETA) | Report this review (#164011)
Posted Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars German experimental electronic group was formed in 1970, and gained unexpected commercial success after the release of their fourth album Autobahn in 1974, and their popularity was still gaining momentum when Die Mensch-Maschine was released in 1978.

Dire Roboter, one of the classic Kraftwerk compositions, opens this release. A highly minimalistic tune, with simple but catchy and effective melody lines with intriguing contrasts created by the use of dark vocoder vocals. Spacelab and Metropolis follow, both with faster basic rhythms and more extensive use of floating synth textures creating a futuristic space feel. Das Model combines Kraftwerk's synth foundation with more regular vocals and pop-influenced melodies, and is arguably the most commercially oriented tune in the band's history.

Neonlicht is a longer tune, with a song segment explored for the first couple of minutes and then a melodic theme explored for the next 7 minutes or so. Die Mensch-Maschine ends the album on a minimalistic note, to some extent ending the album as it started.

Most of the tunes here are highly intriguing. The first two tunes are the best in my opinion, groovy and transfixing, and the next two tunes are really fascinating as well. Neonlicht is too repetitive for my taste though, and soon gets boring. Last track Die Mensch-Maschine also suffers from that, lacking elements creating variation and tension.

Still, this is without doubt a good album overall, highly recommended to any fan of electronic music in general and German electronic music in particular.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#165709)
Posted Friday, April 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's difficult to try and give a comment on an album in a genre you don't know that much about, especially when that album has received universal praise from most reviewers.

So I will just give my brief impressions on KRAFTWERK'S "The Man Machine". As pointed out already, this is electronic music, played only in synths, with not a hint of a traditional instrument. This is hardly rock music, even though it has some of its elements. Many have questioned the progressiveness of this album and I also have my doubts, but I think those who have followed the development of electronic music will have a much more definitive and important opinion in the matter.

The music is, well, very danceable, very soft electronic, a little repetitive, a little spacey. Every track honors its respective title: The Robots sounds like a lot of robots marching on an electronic world; Spacelab takes us into a capsule flying in space, I can hear some Jean Michel Jarre on this track, though with less magic (for me). Metropolis paints a picture of high, very high lifeless buildings that ascend to the sky, and then it covers the minutia, the people under the structures; The Model is the most pop track in the album, and I think the music fits the lyrics and the subject perfectly, like the soundtrack for some vacuous person; Neon Lights has a lot of light, luminosity, it is a shining track, especially in the middle section; The Man-Machine lacks all soul, the music doesn't know where to go, even though the same idea is repeated all the way through the track.

I cannot say much about the place of this record in progressive-electronic history, neither can I underline its importance in the development of the genre, as my knowledge is limited. All I can do is rate it according to my ideas and feelings about music. I think this is likeable and maybe even interesting music but I don't believe this record demands many listens. After four or five hearings of "The Man-Machine", it started to get old, as melodies and structures are not really the focus here but the concept of building a new (for the time) electronic musical expression.

I can't give the album a low rating as I admire the kind of "programmatic" sense of the music in that it depicts what the title describes. I also admire each song in its essence. What I don't particularly love is the fact that, once the idea is expressed, it's repeated till the end. I know that would be the nature of electronic-machine-made music. But I don't see it as a very demanding musical manifestation. Enjoyable but perishable.

I think more can be done (and has been done, in the little that I've heard) with electronic music. Probably this album was seminal in its development, so out of respect and because I liked some elements, I give it three stars.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#169027)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars The Man Machine is Kraftwerk's best Cd and I owned the original vinyl and spun it endlessly in my childhood days. I was encapsulated by the ultra strange starkness and alien-techno shifts into futurism and beyond. I had heard nothing like it and craved more, going as far as getting hold of every Kraftwerk vinyl album I could find. Some thirty years later, and I am still engrossed by the hypnotic rhythms of these Krautrock pioneers of white noise and eclectic electronica.

'The Robots' is an outstanding punchy, cold, alienated track and is easily the highlight of the album. The synthetic robotic vocals work brilliantly against the wall of sound from computerised electronics and percussion. The song has since been revamped but this is the best version, trust me.

'Spacelab' is a space electronic excursion into the stratosphere featuring high level percussion and gorgeous synth pads throughout. The droning 'Metropolis' follows and is full of subsonic electronica with washes of inspired keyboards.

'The Model' is the single and works well, with actual verses sung appropriately in cold sterile tones. The song has since been made into an MTV favourite; a very funny, and decidedly satiric black and white film clip, showing old fashioned footage of models and strange women in high fashion garments from the late 50s. It is a highlight of the album, and is quite a mainstream approach in comparison to the rest of the high strangeness.

Back to the strange and surreal with 'Neon Lights' that feature shimmering keyboards synthesised through effects panels on computers. How do you describe this music? It is the weakest song on the album and yet still has the power of trance if you let it into your brain.

'The Man Machine' is a wonderful album closer and has hypno-trance rhythms that are surprisingly contemporary to today's standards. In fact the whole album is contemporary and these pioneers were way ahead of their time.

This is Kraftwerk's best album in my opinion because it simply mesmerizes from beginning to end, and is a prime example of Krautrock electronica at its best.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#177904)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars New age for a new age

Having enjoyed great commercial success in both the albums and singles chart in recent years, Kraftwerk returned in 1978 with "The man machine". While the album as a whole relied heavily on the formula which had worked so well for them, the album spurned what would become arguably their most successful and best known song ever. Nowadays, "The model" is an icon of the late 1970's, the sound in fact being that of the 1980's. This, in a nutshell, demonstrates what it was which captured the imagination of the usually conservative buying public, Kraftwerk were quite simply ahead of their time.

The six tracks here beg and borrow from previous albums, "The robots" being another "Radio activity" while "Spacelab" is in the mould of "Autobahn". The emphasis as usual is as much on the atmospheres and the landscapes the music creates, as it is on the melodies. Indeed, the melodies in their rudimentary form are often simplistic. They tend to be played as monophonic synth renditions supported by repetitive electronic rhythms. Such is the simplistic style and emphasis on moods that in 50 years time such music will probably have become the norm for new age records.

With only six tracks to chose from, it is perhaps churlish to select favourites, but I will anyway. Apart from the obvious choice of "The model", where Krautrock and pop combine in an unlikely but totally successful 3½ minutes of pure delight, it is "Metropolis" which captures my imagination. Here a polyphonic synth sound dominates the track, the single word lyrics simply functioning as another electronic instrument.

"Neon lights" is perhaps the most surprising track. At almost 9 minutes it is the longest on the album, and by and large it follows the Familiar Kraftwerk template. The singing on the track however is devoid of distortion or effects, being, dare I say almost human.

In all, a fine album by Kraftwerk which finds them playing to their strengths. "The man machine" will not appeal to all prog fans by any means, but those who enjoy the digital side of the genre should find this to be a highlight.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#179603)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars the best use of electronics available in 1978 , to make one of the masterpieces of electronic progressive rock . Kraftwerk have many excellent albums indeed , beside the man-machine , autobahn and radio-activity , in addition to their first three releases are really amazing . this music is really interresting cause it mixes between electronic - ambient , pop and rock in a perfect shape , blended by German taste , to create a wonderful Krautrock style . All tracks are lovely and easy to accept , and the lyrics in english sounds powerful . The model , neon lights and the robots was my best songs during the late 70's , but now , and after all this period i lke and enjoy all tracks in this album . Highly recommend it for all proggers /// TracksToni ///

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Send comments to trackstoni (BETA) | Report this review (#181935)
Posted Sunday, September 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the fourth good ''Kraftwerk'' album in a row. And it is probably the one I like best.

It is less repetitive than ''Autobahn'', less avant-garde than ''Radio Activität'', more melodic than ''TEE''. In all, this album sounds as an enjoyable journey in the fields of electronic music. Of course, the beats are repetitive and the music is very much synthesized. But this band were a pioneer in the style and many artists were inspired by their music. From the late mid seventies through the eighties.

Some might argue that this album sounds too commercial and flirts with techno. Jerky and hypnotic riffs, monotonous vocals, fine keyboards all the way through: this is the receipt of this album.

I have to say that up to their hit ''The Model'', there is absolutely no weak passages. Some tracks are timeless like the opening number ''The Robots'' which an absolute witness of this era.

IMHHO, their most melodic and poignant track is ''Metropolis''. A bit desperate in the style of the great Bowie/Eno ''Low'' (which was inspired by earlier works of ''Kraftwerk'' BTW). This was also an inspirer of what would be called the cold wave a little later.

I was just a little bit less enthusiastic about the last two songs from album. The childish ''Neon Lights'' could have been a little shorter and the title and closing track lacks of style and inspiration.

I will rate this album with four stars although seven out of ten would have been my choice if it would have been possible. The band didn't invent anything new here (they did it all previously), but they managed to express their ideas in a more accessible and attractive way, at least to my ears.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#198276)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Cold space electronic music for robots... this is a groundbreaking and visionary album and a true work of art. I think this is Kraftwerk's best, most fully-realized album. The minimalist music paints a stark picture of a future world where all life is automated and all thoughts and experiences are artificially manufactured. The songs have a cold, disaffected, sterile atmosphere... precise, angular, ticking-cog percussion drive the mechanical music forward through bleak synthesized clouds and metallic blips and drones. 30 years after it's release, Die Mensch-Maschine still sounds futuristic.

'Spacelab' is my favorite track by far, it's has a dark and depressive quality that stands out on the album amongst it's mostly anti-emotional, anti-humanistic counterparts.

'Metropolis' exudes a similar melancholy... but instead of genuine sadness it feels like the memory-of-an-emotion felt by a newly assimilated cyborg who can no longer feel themselves... but still long for the lost humanity they will never experience again in their hyper-modern computer world.

This is certainly a masterpiece of Electronic music... and while it is progressive in it's own way, I am not convinced this is 'Prog' or essential listening for every Prog fan. I do, however, highly recommend this as a starting point for anyone who wishes to explore Electronic music.

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Send comments to AdamHearst (BETA) | Report this review (#202089)
Posted Sunday, February 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Machine, machine, machine!!

This review should have been written at least one month ago when i was really excited with Kraftwerk, after having seen them twice in concert as the support act of Radiohead, and believe me, despite their setlist was exactly the same both days, I truly enjoyed both performances, they are a great band and without a doubt their influence in lots of bands or even music genres was remarkable, if you want to listen to an example of electronic prog, then you should listen to Kraftwerk early works, and also if you like any kind of electronic music, you must listen to them and you may understand better your nowadays electronic music.

This album entitled The Man Machine (English version) or Die Mensch-Maschine (German version) was released in 1978 and is my personal record of this german band, they have also other great albums such as Autobahn, Kraftwerk 2 or Trans Europe Express, but I believe that their peak was with this extraordinary release.

The album kicks off with "Die Roboter" which since the very beginning will show you the kind of spacey electronic mood music that the band makes, one of the features of this band is their use of "robotic vocals", I mean you will listen to some lyrics but the impression you get is not from a human, but from a robot, so in a certain way their music was kind of futuristic.

The next song is "Spacelab" and it starts with a sound that will make you think there is a machine coming from somewhere, like waking up through some steam caps, then after a few seconds the electronic drumming begins and the song really starts there, the only word pronounced during the song is Spacelab, again with robotic voice, the keyboard work is very catchy and nice, even danceable at some moments, but the song despite being repetitive, is very cool. I believe the fact that being so repetitive is not a con, it is a pro, that repetitiveness is what make you stay tuned to the music and don't want to skip the song.

Then we have" Metropolis", I believe the album may have been a one song album divided in 6 episodes, though all of them are different, there are moments alike in all their songs, maybe the mood, the use of spacey elements etc, but that makes the album great, this song stars with a slow tempo but little by little it is developing and creating a very interesting sound, again the keyboards and electronic drumming are at it's peak.

The following track is probably the better known and most popular off the album since it was a single, "Das Modell" whose sound is very catchy and addictive to the listener, and different from the previous songs, here we listen to normal human vocals, with complete sentences, not just words like in the most of their songs, here we will even find some keyboard solo which makes the song even better, one of my favourite tracks without a doubt.

"Neon Licht", a very good song, however, it is my least favorite from this album, I use to love the longest songs of the records but this is not the case, despite their almost 9 minute length when one may imagine the song has several changes or their creativity creates something different, well, that does not happen here, my emphasis is because I don't feel that excited with this song like with the other ones, however, the composition is still great and the pure musical moments are cool.

The album finishes with my favourite song, the title track and the song they used to open their shows, the song that caught my attention and that always make me repeat the word machine, a clear example of their music, and also a clear example of what a recent or newer artist would name as one of their main influences, it cannot be denied.

So let me say something, this is not the typical prog rock record that us, the prog lovers will love at first sight, so if you are open to something electronic then I highly recommend you this album, if you are not open, then continue with the kind of prog you prefer.

For me 4 stars, enjoy it!!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#211888)
Posted Monday, April 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine)" is the 7th full-length studio album by German experimental electronic pop/rock act Kraftwerk. The album was released through Kling Klang/EMI/Capitol in May 1978. Their last album "Trans- Europe Express (Trans-Europa Express) (1977)" is quite the achivement to my ears. The band not only made their music more listener friendly, they also achived commercial as well as artistic success. Those tendencies are continued on "The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine)".

"The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine)" is essentially a synth-pop album (before such a term was coined) with simple and memorable synth themes, repetitive electronic beats and processed robotic vocals (there are also "normal" vocals on the album). There are 6 tracks on the 35:59 minutes long album. A pretty short album but almost every second of playing time is loaded with great adventurous ideas. The ending of "Neon Lights" drags on a bit too long, but the rest of the album are more or less perfect. The music is generally easily accessible, simple in nature and very memorable. For the first time on a Kraftwerk album there´s even a track that sounds like mainstream pop. "The Model (Das Modell)" is vers/chorus structured and features real lyrics and not just repetitive vocal lines which is the most usual thing for the band.

The sound production is strong. Sharp, clean and enhancing the energy in the music.

This is such an influential album and artists like Depeche Mode and New Order owes Kraftwerk so much, but also more recent acts such as Daft Punk and Air have taken loads of influence from Kraftwerk. "The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine)" deserves a 5 star (100%) rating. A seminal album in the development of electronic pop music.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#241135)
Posted Thursday, September 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I recently visited a second hand record shop which was full of crusty old, mildew-ridden vinyl, and I stumbled across 3 copies of 'Computer World' (1981), so what did I do when I got home, I pulled out this record instead, an album I don't spin often enough. At first glance, the four electronic musicians that make up this line-up of Kraftwerk may resemble fashion floor mannequins, but their brand of new-wave electronica will always be revolutionary and highly influential. The absolute success of their formula was fully realised on this release 'The Man- Machine', dating back to 1978. The album contains 6 compositions, and most are of a high quality. Initially, visionaries Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider composed experimental music within the Krautrock sub-genre, and the seeds were sown. For me, I personally enjoy their early work more than this current phase, (mainly for the use of more 'organic' instrumentation) but the sheer inventiveness and originality they displayed here is undeniable. Opening track, 'The Robots', created a bit of a stir at the time and sets the scene immediately - an industrial, robotic alien with processed vocals and a catchy melody - in fact, the album through is full of delicious melodies. On the surface, their music may strike some as a bit goofy, but beneath it lies a complex world of meticulously arranged synth sequences and electronic sounds only few could dream of assembling in such a way. They beat the 80's to the 80's, and even sound a bit like the material TANGERINE DREAM came up with in the 80's (I'm always reminded of 'Midnight in Tula' from the 'White Eagle album of 1982). 'Spacelab' is the next song and takes on a more 'electro-pop' guise. The track I favour most is 'Metropolis', with an urgent rhythm and dark progression. The lead melodies are usually taken care of by Hutter and his Mini-Moog and really sound mesmerising. Side 2 comprises of the memorable short song 'The Model', which is quite an achievement, given it's pure hit-single nature (more so than 'Autobahn', from a few years earlier IMO), accessible, features a natural vocal (!) yet remains distinctively German and experimental. 'Neon Lights' is the longest track (at 9min3sec, says the inner sleeve) and is probably the weaker piece here as it doesn't change much and its melody is somewhat syrupy - quite acceptable, though overlong for what it is. The album is drawn to a close with the decent title-cut, more electronic rhythms and blipping synth patterns. This approach Kraftwerk took to their music paved the way for many to come, but I feel that the band never went further than this with their next couple of releases. Possibly the best album from the 'showroom dummies' phase - 4 stars.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#250269)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
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.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#250815)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars They became robots here!

I prefer to divide Kraftwerk's output from Autobahn to Electric Café into two distinct halves (I have not heard the pre-Autobahn albums). The first era, which we might call the progressive era, would consist of the three albums Autobahn, Radio-Activity and Trans-Europe Express, while the second era, which we might call the Synth Pop era, would consist of the present album, Computer World and Electric Café. Almost needless to say, the most interesting of the two eras is the former. Though I find Radio-Activity almost unlistenable, I would say that Autobahn and Trans-Europe Express are the finest moments in the group's career.

On Man Machine, Kraftwerk streamlined their approach and rooted out all non-electronic and non-mechanical aspects of their sound. This was probably the logical development of what they had been doing up to that point, but for me they took it too far here. The album does still have a very vague concept based around the relation between human and robot, but there is not much to hook onto to in order to really make any sense of the music and not all of the tracks fit into its overall theme. Some songs still have a very slight "progressive" nature perhaps, but there are no "epics" or "suites" anymore. The music of Kraftwerk was always experimental in some sense, but here the main "experiment" seems to have been to further "rationalize" their already minimalistic sound and streamline what they had already been doing on previous albums. This is what they do here rather than create something radically new.

The signs had been there since Radio-Activity, but it was with The Model that Kraftwerk "finally" created Synth Pop. Short, catchy, simple and conventional in structure (but not in sound), this electronic ditty gave them their biggest hit and probably inspired many Synth Pop groups of the early 80's to write similarly catchy electronic tunes. Neon Lights is similarly catchy, but a bit more elaborated. The Robots would be a defining number for the group as well and they even adopted the robotic image suggested by the song, having robots appear on stage instead of the members themselves when they "performed" their music live!

Many would probably hold the present album up as Kraftwerk's finest moment, and even though I agree that this was a defining and very important album for them, for me this was the start of their downfall. I do enjoy the next album, Computer World, more than the present one though as that one has a bit more energy (plus I remember it well from my childhood). Man Machine feels a bit "sleepy" and even quite dull at times, and with only electronic sounds, a less elaborate concept and no real substance in the material, this falls rather flat for me. It is indeed "robotic" as opposed to "human"; too much so for my taste, I suppose.

I can really only recommend this one to fans of the group and the genre

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#258787)
Posted Friday, January 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This is the most commercially successful Kraftwerk release to date and is most notable for the songs The Robots (Die Roboter) and The Model (Das Modell). This is by no means a bad thing especially since this release is probably most enjoyable of the band's album for me!

The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine) is packed with classics like The Robots, The Model and Metropolis that are great fun to sit through. These compositions might not be as innovative as other some of Kraftwerk's previous efforts, most notably Autobahn or Radio-Activity, but what good is innovation if it doesn't lead to a product of this quality?

Unfortunately this album is not without its flaws and had it not been for a misstep like Neon Licht then I would have probably enjoyed this album even more. Fortunately the rest of the release makes up for that flaw although the bitter sweet taste remains. Overall The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine) is probably the crown achievement of Kraftwerk's career but it's hardly an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

***** star songs: The Model (Das Modell) (3:38)

**** star songs: The Robots (Die Roboter) (6:11) Spacelab (5:51) Metropolis (5:59) The Man-Machine (Die Mensch-Maschine) (5:30)

*** star songs: Neon Lights (Neon Licht) (8:50)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#259293)
Posted Monday, January 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brilliant! This is by far Karftwerk's best album. I'm more of a Genesis, Yes person but no matter who you are this album is impossible not to appreciate. The instrumental section on spacelab are very melodic and are very wavy in the way the synthesizers play. Then The Model which is the songs with the most storyline so to speak in any Kraftwerk song I've ever heard. Good melodic synthesizers and very nice brief instrumental at the end, and in the middle of the song. Kraftwerk have done a lot for music, and the way that it's evolved and this genius album is a very good example of how they could have potentially had the impact on music that they had. Even though my favorite Kraftwerk song isn't on this album it's computerlove on computerworld, this album get my vote for best kraftwerk album, but truthfully all of their albums and songs are very good.

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Send comments to Lambtrot (BETA) | Report this review (#285589)
Posted Tuesday, June 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars These days, Kraftwerk is often thought of as a relic of a by-gone era of hardcore German expressionism; a punch line to be used by Mike Myers in one of his hilarious "Sprockets" skits from SNL. That is exactly what I thought until about the 4th time I listened to The Man-Machine.

After that, I was able to hear them for what they actually are, the godfathers of modern pop and electronic music. In my opinion their skill generally far exceeds that of those who would imitate or follow in their footsteps. Man-Machine is a synthesis of catchy pop, exclusively minimalist electronic music and a measure of psychedelic wanderlust, all while remaining a near uniformly upbeat. I have to say I am still more than a little bit surprised how much I like Kraftwerk.

The more pop oriented offerings are "The Model", the only track I'm not really partial to and the goofy but still very good "The Robots." The rest of the album is made up of meandering near instrumental tracks built around their own central musical theme "Spacelab," "Metropolis" and "The Man-Machine". Some of these are out of this world, but the absolute highlight of the album for me is the 9 minute delight Neon Lights. It's a track that I just don't want to end and thankfully it's in no hurry. As the title suggests it's a very bright and slightly delicate track. Musically, it's mostly just a well laid set of staccato sequencer effects.

In spite of what preconceived notions you have about Kraftwerk, I highly recommend The Man-Machine. While it does require a bit of an ear for minimalist music it is ultimately able to transcend the genre rather well. As long as you can at least keep an open mind you'll be fine. Four stars out of five.

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Send comments to R-A-N-M-A (BETA) | Report this review (#386485)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Man-Machine is the pinnacle of cheesy progressive robo-electro rock. The tracks on this album seem to run together in almost the same manner as the self-titled track from Autobahn, but sectioned off into shorter tracks.

From the slightly ominous album cover to the very dark melodies and sinister vocals, this album evokes feelings of complete domination (if you can listen to the German version of "The Robots" called "Die Roboter", it is surprisingly amplified in creepiness). I've never gotten much of a horror sci-fi film soundtrack vibe from a Kraftwerk album except for on this album, which almost sounds like it could've been on an Argento film soundtrack from the '80s (something I mention frequently in my reviews). This music is creepy, dark, foreboding, repetitive, and pacing. The dead robo-electro beats pulse in the mind, and every track seems to last forever, eventually amplifying itself in whatever quality seems most prevalent at any given moment. This is one of Kraftwerk's most creative moments, it seems to me. About every track on this album has a melody that progresses in a simple, and barely noticeable way, unless you really pay attention to it. The sound is very full and lush compared to other Kraftwerk albums, and there are plenty of experimental, peripheral sounds added to the atmosphere.

This album, The Man-Machine, is the absolute masterpiece in the Kraftwerk discography. It has everything that anyone would expect from this group, but with an added sophistication that isn't so present on their other albums. Definitely an essential listen, definitely regarding Kraftwerk's krafty werks.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#438040)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tapfret
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars The Minimal Machine

Sub-genre: Progressive Electronic
For Fans of: Klaus Schulze, early Tangerine Dream, flashing lights and mirrored disco balls.
Vocal Style: Minimally melodic male with semi-spoken word and synthetic robot voices.
Guitar Style: Nein
Keyboard Style: Programmed loops, various synthetic waves.
Percussion Style: again, programmed loops.
Bass Style: sigh, programmed loops
Other Instruments: Nein
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: you want to hear instruments beside synthetic programmed loops.

Summary: I grew up enjoying the spacey, ethereal yet complete sounds of Kraftwerk's classic Autobahn. I was steered in the direction of this album much later in life. I picked up Die Mensch-Maschine in the local record store's bargain bin and began my 35-minute decent into horror. This was not the cosmic journey I expected after my experience with Autobahn. This was a decidedly lo-fi step back for the electronic ensemble; lo-fi and embarrassingly cheesy. Even taken into chronologic context, the electronic voice on the opener, The Robots, is obtusely painful. I like to listen to my music fairly loud, but when the corny voice started I immediately trimmed the volume and looked out the window to make sure the neighbors were not out there snickering at me. But more than that was the lack of quality the programmed sounds had. Autobahn had I shimmering, ethereal quality to the synthesis that felt innovative. Die Mensch-Maschine had synthesis that really sounded like they were simultaneously going back to the drawing board while spinning more poppy arrangements. The bottom of the barrel was the stiff-as-a-board The Model, which I suppose in the strictest sense conveyed the un-pragmatic lifelessness of the modeling world. It was nonetheless a merciless drowning of painfully simplistic melodizing. The album closes with the title track, which attempts to recall the halcyon etherealness of Autobahn, but again misses the mark with a completely boxed-in sound.



Final Score: This is a warning against the "If you like A by (insert band), then you will like B by (insert band) even more" method of choosing what to listen to next. It is usually a pretty safe way to go, but it can fail pretty harshly. On the progressive music scale, this album gets a "Huh?". Die Mensch-Maschine should come with a first-aid kit. 1 star.

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Send comments to Tapfret (BETA) | Report this review (#451397)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is another album where the number of stars I give it is not fully indicative of how much I like it. I think this is a very good album, probably four stars on my personal scale, but in terms of its importance to a progressive rock collection, I think it meets the three star qualification of "Good, but non-essential." Is it a good album? Yes. Is it innovative for its time? No doubt. Does it have a whole lot to do with the genre of progressive rock? Not really.

But onto the actual music. If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be "smooth." The soundscapes and electronic textures flow in a way that is very aesthetically nice, never abrasive. However, as you can clearly see by the track lengths, there are no Klaus Schulze- esque thirty minute voyages here. These are very tight compositions which, I think I can safely say, were hugely influential to a lot of pop and electro pop even up until the modern day. The music is essentially built on repetition, with most songs consisting of an electronic loop that is continuously being added to or sung over. I listened to the album in German, but I don't think that really affects the nature of the songs too much; most of the vocals are heavily modified and simply serve as another texture in the mix.

I really do think this is a very enjoyable album to listen to, and if I were reviewing it for a general music site I would not hesitate to give it 4 or even 4.5 stars. However, this is a prog site, and other than the general innovation in the sounds used this is simply a very good pop album.

3/5

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#460707)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An embellishment of the approach taken on Trans-Europe Express, The Man-Machine is Kraftwerk's electro-pop album, yielding a sound which has been much-imitated to this day and yet at the same time remains significantly more inventive and compelling than its imitators. Whilst tracks like The Robots and The Model present stark proto-dance music ditties (though addictively catchy ones), other tracks such as the dreamlike Neon Lights show that Kraftwerk hadn't turned their backs on progressive music - they just weren't averse to combining it with pop hooks. A seminal electronic work which is many people's first exposure to the progressive electronic artists who emerged from the Krautrock scene, though at this point Kraftwerk (along with Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream) had left Krautrock well behind them.

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Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Kraftwek is one of the bands that I've discovered more then 15 years ago, being curious to listen to so called progressive electronic music, and knowing that they are pionees in this zone. Well, I've re listen after a long period their most succesful album, I guess from 1978 named Die Mensch-Maschine aka The Man-Machine. Usualy this is not the kind of music or better said kind of prog I want to listen every day, to electrocic and experimental for my ears, but with all that I can appreciate the originality and hard work over the years Kraftewerk puted in their work to become maybe the most influencial band from prog electronic music. Even the album is ok by my standards, seams that in places is little flat and lacking in some variety of arrangements, but pieces like The Robots or The Model are instantly catchy and addictive. A fairly good album, but I can't express myself that this is a masterpiece like many pretend to be, to me is only ok and nothing more, still enjoyble most of the time. 3 stars, this one as their nect Computerwelt is in the same league, for me at least.

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Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"The Man Machine" is the first Kraftwerk album that feels of not human pulse.

If Kraftwerk had stopped making music after "Trans Europe Express", they would still be recognized as one of the great Krautrock bands. Yet, the year following that album, they release "The Man Machine", an album that went beyond anything they did previously. 1978 was one of the years where Disco music was big, and Dance music musicians like Giorgio Moroder were starting a completely new trend. Whether that kind of music was an influence on Kraftwerk or the band simply developed such a mature sound all by themselves, it was clear anyway that the times were changing, the music was changing.

Compared to previous albums, "The Man Machine" is so much more elaborate musically: the synth sounds are really hard hitting, as well as the drum machine, that is an obvious Disco influence. Even the melodies are more accessible, not at all creepy (compared to "Trans Europe Express"), more suited for the dancefloor and for moving in general. It seems that some sounds pioneer genres like House and Electro because of their strong, accessible, and danceable feeling. It could seem a bit of a turn-off at first by the die-hard haters of mainstream Electronic, but however, Kraftwerk still stick on a few tracks to their sound characteristic of a few of the previous works, that the audience would be more used to; meaning the shy vocals and the more "intelligent" synth sounds and more progressive attitudes. Repetition here, like in many Kraftwerk albums, is key, for both the danceable tunes and the more traditional ones.

"The Robots", "The Model", and the splendid title track are the songs that show the typical, dancy side of the album: "The Model" was released as a single, while "The Robots", the opening track, simply entered in the collective imagination of Kraftwerk fans. The other songs are much more similar to ones coming from previous works, like "Spacelab", and "Neon Light". "Metropolis" stands in my book midway between these two types of songs, having an irresistible rhythm and at the same time having more calm and soothing synth melodies.

"The Man Machine" is another one of those classics that, in a way, was essential for the formation of new Electronic genres: if this release in particular did not help the formation of something like House music, then it certainly helped the formation of Electronic music that mixed with Progressive or experimented a whole lot.

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Posted Friday, March 09, 2012 | Review Permalink

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