Home > News & Reviews > Man Without Machines

Man Without Machines - The Kreuzberg Press (Album Review)

Friday, 22 February 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh
Man Without Machines - The Kreuzberg Press (Album Review)

Dundee based Adam Lockhart is the sole creative force behind Man Without Machines, whose debut album 'The Kreuzberg Press' is released on Monday 4th March. Lockhart is joined in live performances by Val Campbell (synth), Andrew Mitchell (bass and synth), Michael Benbow (drums), and Stephen McCullough (synth and guitar).

ImageSelf described as ‘pacey electro-pop’, MWM take obvious German influences - from an often prevalent motorik beat, to the Berlin inspired title (Kreuzberg is an area of Berlin, most famous for the SO36 Club frequented in the 70’s by David Bowie and Iggy Pop), to the Kraftwerk like artwork, most notably The Man Machine album on the MWM logo – the title of which is another obvious reference.

There are some occasional political undertones within the content of this album, which ultimately does not marry with the type of sonic output – the fast paced synth-laden tracks definitely inspire an upbeat, foot tapping response so the politics are almost lost entirely except to the most studious of listeners.

New single 'Even Still Even Though' opens proceedings, fairly enjoyable but revealing one instant weakness – Lockhart’s lack of vocal range and in particular his struggle with low notes. This appears at other times throughout the album but is most prevalent here, leaving its choice as a single and album opener slightly bemusing. He also has a punchy, stuttering type of singing method which can get quite annoying at times but does work in small doses.

Second up is 'Anyway' - nice guitaring work is disappointingly coupled with less than convincing synths. It’s another reasonable sounding track but again nothing special which unfortunately sets the tone for the whole album. 'Share the Love' and 'Sound of Your Lies' follow in a similar vein, the latter benefiting from slightly stronger synths and better chorus but still fairly unrewarding.

Peterloo then takes over, referencing an 1819 massacre and opening with a distinct synth chord sound that sounds very similar to Human League’s ‘Seconds’ from the 'Dare' album before the quick beat kicks in leaving you thinking it is in fact a Human League remix. The pace finally drops with 'Falling Star' which bizarrely starts with identical synth chords as the previous track, just in a different voice – they may have got away with this if these 2 tracks had been separated but having them stand side by side is a schoolboy error.

Standout track 'Something’s Happening Here' is next up – the speed picks up once again and this is easily the album highlight. Again, not a ground breaker but catchy and pleasing on the ears none the less, despite once again the low notes proving to be a problem for Lockhart.

'Constitution' promises much and almost delivers but suffers from being cut short just as you think this is where we finally take off, driving guitaring again a high point. 'Scorelines', 'We Talk', 'It’s Closer' all follow with 'In Salt' bringing up the rear – all tracks follow the same pattern and fail to deliver much more, if anything.

If you’re a fan of 80’s electro-pop then you can’t help but want to like this; whether you do or not is up for argument. Sounding more Devo than Kraftwerk, without the quirky element that was pretty much essential to Devo’s overall sound this album will not bring anything new to the table. The underlying guitaring on which the synths are laid sounds great and perhaps if Lockhart had focused more on this sound with less of the primitive sounding synths that unfortunately recall their early usage within music like on films such as Flash Gordon, then he could have been on to something special; that and maybe the introduction of a female vocalist would have put this effort far higher into the realms of success.

All in all some promising stuff but without honing songwriting skills MWM may just fall by the wayside as upon reflection, once the album has finished, tracks often meld into one when trying to recall them, which is a shame because there is a great deal of potential here. If in any doubt as to whether or not you will enjoy this album then a simple measure would be to check out 'Something’s Happening Here' on Youtube; if you don’t like this then there’s not much chance of you enjoying the rest of the album. If you do then it could be worth a try.

'Kreuzberg Press' by Man Without Machines is scheduled to be released March 4th, 2013 on the Man vs Man label.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

No related news to show
< Prev   Next >