Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Kraftwerk "The Man-Machine" (1978)

The world of Electronic music is one I'm fond of, but not well educated on its history and evolution. From my understanding it is Kraftwerk who are often hailed as the godfathers of all modern Electronic music. I've frequently heard about them in the highest of regards from enthusiasts who point to them as pioneers in the field who's influence is enormous and lasting. After enjoying the song "Robots" and its quirky music video on Youtube I have failed to listen to this record for too long.

It was impossible to listen to this record with out thinking about its context, era and what it would have meant for the music of the future, but this didn't effect my enjoyment of this record, what I found were 6 repetitive and minimalist songs that had a gentle, yet unusual soul about them. Kraftwerk's sound is powerful considering the lack of depth on hand. Songs mostly consisted of three to five layers of synthesizers, an electronic kit and vocoded vocals. The beauty of there music was in the expression, through limited options the four created catchy and memorable tunes with an unusual air about them, probably reflecting the new frontier they were sailing with Electronic music. It was this ingenuity to bring melodic sensibility and catchy notation to the electronic sound that I suspect is what has earned them their reputation. Previously I had heard synthesizers being used as evolving tangents of progressing sound on such a record as "Dark Side Of The Moon" or some Tangerine Dream of the same era.

As a whole the record sounds pristine, so much care was put into the mix and the texture of these synthesizers, at a time when production was not as advanced. With a fantastic sound the group craft absorbing songs that, despite the minimalism, feel rich with atmosphere and character. As the album progress the vocal content develops a little, but always sticking to a simplicity that expresses a non-human characteristic as vocoded vocals repeat words in an alien use of language. As the album sucked me in I felt the repetitive synth leads becoming more memorizing and absorbing, with a fantastic moment on "Neon Lights" as sweeping, glistening synths captivate and dance there way through half the duration of this track. Impressive album, even more so considering the era of time. That being said nothing here feels dated, Kraftwerk didn't just experiment or push boundaries, they created honest music as they did it.

Favorite Tracks: Metropolis, Neon Lights, The Man Machine
Rating: 9/10