Kraftwerk - The Man Machine
The trouble is that this style of music can get boring and clinical if listened to for too long. And that is the bad side of German techno music. Kraftwerk are often cited as being driven by, inspired by the machine, wishing to emulate the clinical perfection of it. In fact they are the opposite. Their very name suggests that humanity is the key, not mechanisation and technology. In using the machine to make music it is as if they are emphasising their own humanity. The trouble is this message is put over so subtly that you often lose sight of it and assume they are praising, instead of minimising, the influence of the machine. The stark images, using bold primary colours on their albums; the quest for the ultimate in anonymous clone-like appearances of the band members; and the crystal clear, almost anti-septic production all contributed to the image.
This is, when all is said and done, probably Kraftwerk's best album. The album was not without controversy when it was released, particularly the choice of shirt colour the band wore. But if you ask me the red shirts were less about Communism and more about a lack of style (I owned a red shirt too but did not have the guts to wear it as often as I might).
The tracks themselves are rather what you have come to expect from Kraftwerk, and it is in this regard that I experience my own particular difficulty with the band. Some of the tracks ("Man Machine", "Neon Lights") are overlong. Indeed, that last track is the worst on the album as it lacks the harmonies the band excelled at and had a rhythm which made it hard to follow. Then there is "Metropolis" which some highlight as one of the band's best works. I find little to get worked up about. There are no lyrics and the constant repetition of the same musical them becomes rather boring after a while. It is at this point that I am reminded of one of the very first concerts I ever went to - Tangerine Dream. Long droning passages of synthesiser sounds made by a bunch of long-haired hippies were what greeted me. Kraftwerk may be far from the hippie image of Tangerine Dream but as "Metropolis" proves, they too can produce long boring passages of synthesiser sounds.
Indeed, "The Model" is the definite highlight of the entire album and quite possibly of Kraftwerk's entire career. It managed to get itself linked with that section of nthe new wave which turned to synthesisers like Ultravox, but Kraftwerk deliberately eschewed any of the warmth and humanity of Ultravox in favour of the sterility of the machine. They do their sterile, robotic persona very well, but I am not sure if I have the patience to last through too much of it. Nonetheless, the album as a whole is a reasonably solid work, although admittedly with some flaws, and their influence is something which cannot seriously be doubted. Kraftwerk are not really my style, but this is worth having for the few highlights it contains.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.
on 2011-06-02 CharlesMartel Said:
I cannot take too much Kraftwerk, but "The Man Machine" is undoubtedly the best of their albums.