Monday, May 20, 2013

the man-machine / die mensch-maschine

Kraftwerk invented synthpop with the hypnotic science fiction sheen of this conceptual electronic landmark.  Building on the advances of 'Trans Europe Express' the band moves closer to pop music with the straightforward sound of 'The Man-Machine' ('Die Mensch-Maschine').  The album was produced by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider at Kling Klang Studio in Düsseldorf, Germany with Ralf Hütter on voice, vocoder, synthesizer, keyboards, orchestron, synthanorma sequenzer, electronics, and art direction; Florian Schneider on vocoder, votrax, synthesizer, electronics , Prophet 5 , Prophet 10, and Yamaha CS-80; and Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür on electronic drums. 

Schneider explains the concept behind the title:   "It’s rather a more sophisticated relationship. There is an interaction. Interaction on both sides. The machine helps the man, and the man admires the machine. (Showing the Sony tape recorder) This is the extension of your brain. It helps you remembering. It’s the third man sitting at this table. As for ourselves, we love our machines. We have an erotic relationship with them...The man machine has a hyper-ego...We say “blank tape” for the brain. A blank tape, and a microphone in each ear. In music, it’s important to develop an art of listening based on emptyness...It’s a movie theater for us. Everyone is a star. The spotlights search the stars... for a few seconds only...the stars that spotlights reveal and then abandon...In german, there’s an expression: to walk beside yourself. It means that you’re absent and conscious of it.  The image is here, and the camera is there."

Hütter considers:   "For me, the music is immaterial: It is sounds and visions. We have gone through many different formats, from vinyl to audiocassettes to 8-tracks to CDs and now downloads. And of course, live Kraftwerk. 'The Man-Machine' is a live electronic music machine. For me, the music is spiritual and I think comes to life when we perform it in concert...It's this combination of human sounds and machine sounds, so as you probably know, electronic music has been very, very intellectualized in the 50s, 60s, or whatever, and I think we always felt strong elements ourselves of these machine rhythms, repetition and charm. Like the motor humming on 'Autobahn', radio waves playing in fantastic melodies in the air. All these ideas have been in our minds and we try to combine them into the different albums."

The Man-Machine' ('Die Mensch-Maschine') went to number one hundred and thirty in the US, fifty-six in Australia, twenty-nine in the Netherlands, twenty-four in Sweden, fifteen in Austria and Italy, fourteen in France, twelve in Germany, and number nine in the UK.    Three years later, 'The Model' was re-released as a single by EMI and went to number one on the UK charts.  The album went on to influence a whole generation of musicians in the development of synthpop and electronica:  "vorsprung durch technik".

'The Man-Machine' ('Die Mensch-Maschine')
full album:

1. The Robots: 0:00
2. Spacelab: 6:12
3. Metropolis: 12:09
4. The Model: 18:13
5. Neon Lights: 21:58
6. The Man-Machine: 30:55

7 - The Robots (Single Version) [36:19]
8 - Spacelab (Single Edit) [40:03]
9 - Neon Lights (Single Edit) [43:37]
10 - The Man-Machine (Promo Edit) [47:07]

11 - The Man-Machine (Remix) [50:53]

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