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Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine
Review: Elemental monotonous beats follow an equal counterpart in percussion rendered through keyboard melodic riff, and so forming a rhythmic foundation, provide basis for the defining trait of ambient music: layers of melody creating harmony on top of invariant timekeeping. Among these layers which provide structure, motivic change evolves through short but surprisingly profound melodies which pave way for dynamic change in listening experience.
While holding the basic beat to its extremity of the monolithic but deconstructing themselves into a space for interludes where a motivic shift can expand on melodic phrases to take them to conclusions, a mixture of the poignant and humorous with the technically apt, songs playfully rise to an apex before deconstructing into their formative elements and vanishing into repetition. Vocals are seemingly nerdy, un-ironic and without humor, presenting themselves plainly without affectation but an obvious appreciation for a human voice singing the right notes.
Fundamental ideas brachiate along a major theme, shadowed in lyrics with cryptic observations of the duality between meaning and physical presence, and then play with this absurdity underneath gentle beauty. Ideas that seem simple can be seen later as simply germinal, flowering into complexity that drops gracefully into a larger perspective when enough elements are introduced, like pulling back the camera of internal dialogue to show a landscape of infinite potential where a seemingly discrete, confined, sedate thing-in-itself previously existed. Through the use of classical structure in melody, epic topography and reliance on diatonic scales, Kraftwerk maintain a neoclassical feeling permeating the entire work.
Longer songs manage to retain their ironic simplicity as a mimickry of simple-mindedness, yet create melodic complexity within that form, and consequently never relapse into boredom or musical overindulgence. "Man-Machine" demonstrates an artistic way of growing aware and separating itself from the dangers it is trying to present, by paradoxically using its targets as base for its own musical success; an ironic take on the modern society and its different means of mechanizing the things that make us human.