Kraftwerk – Man Machine – music to write to
Man Machine is classic Kraftwerk German electronica. From the opening track ‘We are the robots’ the tempo is set. Beeps, whistles, and seventies pseudo computer sounds create a memorable and ground breaking album that set the scene for much of the music to come over the next forty years. This album takes a lot of beating as a writing album. It is cohesive, fun, speedy, and great to drive your fingers as they tap away at the keys.
Kraftwerk were unique at the time and even with the passage of time the quality of their work is not diminished. This is one of those great albums where even the artwork is laid out to enhance the listening experience. The album cover as above is another reflection of the tracks on the album that pull you along with a thematic experience of the man machine.
They actually designed and created some musical instruments to enable them to record their albums. They also conceptualised their music as a response to technology and modernism. The red and black cover with the whole band in matching uniforms is inspired by Russian artists of the Suprematism movement, in particular El Lissitzky. Suprematism is based around geometric forms and a limited palette of colours. Suprematism refers to ‘the supremacy of our artistic feeling. The movement was born around the time of the start of world war one, but with the development of the Russian revolution developed artists were pushed into conforming. Like many artistic movements it foundered but gave birth to further art movements that I also know little about. To the outsider the symbolism looks purely authoritarian and also shares the nazi colours. This album grabs the iconography of extremes, super imposes the world of machines and industrialism, and isolation, to make a great cohesive album. It was massive at the time and will be one of those timeless album that is always around.
They are as you would imagine by looking at the artwork on their albums, eccentric visionary chaps. They are notoriously reclusive. The standing information that they hand out about contacting them is that they have set up the phone in their studio so it does not ring so they are not interrupted when they are recording. They advise of a time when the phone will be answered.
Coldplay apparently asked to use a sample and had to write several letters through their lawyers to the Kraftwerk lawyers to get into contact. Apparently they received a handwritten letter with a single word written word. I can see a certain synergy there as Coldplay also write music as if it were written by robots, although it is written by humans.
Bottom line, a great album to write to.
Yes, but not that money. As you listen to this album the only lyrics sounds more like electronic directions for how to use the dishwasher than song lyrics.
Mechanical and speedy. Not quite inhuman, but it certainly has the feel of people trying to sound like computers, but just before the era when it would have been possible for them to actually make the entire thing with computers.
Good to work to
Yes, Man Machine puts you in the mood to do something quickly straight away. The album is melodic in a really simple minimalist way, but it is the insistent tempo that keeps you working.
There was a veritable plague of German electronica in the seventies with bands like Can and Nue, so much so that the term Krautrock was coined as a result.
Kraftwerk are one of the most influential electronic bands in the world. Kraftwerk mean power station in germ on.
The Kraftwerk line-up that created Man Machine were
Ralf Hutter – album concept cover, keyboard, synthesiser, vocoder, voice etc
Florian Schneider – album concept, electronics, synthesiser, vocoder
Karl Bartos – electronic drums
Wolfgang Flur – electronic drums
They have a whole set of great albums, you aren’t going to find a big difference in sound between these albums but a whole
Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
You can get Kraftwerk everywhere in all formats
Perfect for writing, a steady pace and active tempo to work to.