1978, Music

Die Mensch-Maschine aka The Man-Machine (1978) by Kraftwerk

If I thought Trans Europa Express was the beginning of synth pop, that was because I had not heard The Man-Machine. The connections between Trans Europa Express and ’80s synthpop felt slightly tenuous; honestly it felt like I might have been exaggerating the connection just a little bit. Not that that record didn’t influence a whole host of bands, but it just seemed like something had to happen in the interim. That thing that happened was probably this record.

Even more so than the previous record, this album sets up the template for combining simple, repetitive lyrics with electronic music (both melodies and rhythms) to create something that is catchy and almost danceable. (Some of the songs are danceable in a loose sense.) All that is really left for the Brits is to add more lyrics and up the pace a bit. (Well, and shorten the songs.)

Much like the previous record, this is a revolutionary album. I can appreciate that. But, like the previous record, I really can’t say I love this kind of music, or what it begat. If I’m going to celebrate electronic music I want it to me more interesting or unconventional. And I like my pop music less robotic.

9/10 for its importance

All lyrics written by Ralf Hütter except “The Model,” lyrics by Hütter and Emil Schult.

  1. “The Robots” (“Die Roboter”) by Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider, Karl Bartos; 6:11
  2. “Spacelab” by Hütter, Bartos; 5:51
  3. “Metropolis” by Hütter, Schneider, Bartos; 5:59
  4. “The Model” (“Das Model”) by Hütter, Bartos; 3:38
  5. “Neon Lights” (“Neonlicht”) by Hütter, Schneider, Bartos; 9:03
  6. “The Man-Machine” (“Die Mensch-Maschine”) by Hütter, Bartos; 5:28
  • Ralf Hütter – voice, vocoder, synthesizer, keyboard, Orchestron, Synthanorma Sequencer, electronics
  • Florian Schneider – vocoder, Votrax, synthesizer, electronics
  • Karl Bartos – electronic drums
  • Wolfgang Flür – electronic drums


  • Ralf Hütter – production, album concept
  • Florian Schneider – production, album concept
  • Joschko Rudas – engineering
  • Leanard Jackson – engineering
  • Henning Schmitz – assistant

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