CD, Alfa Matrix, 2004
The German electro project Plastic Noise Experience have been active since the early 90’s and have acquired something of a minor cult status in the electro scene. Now a solo act (except when playing live) by Claus Kruse, PNE released a new album, titled “Maschinenmusik”, on the Belgian label Alfa Matrix.
Considering the coldness and robotic qualities of the music as well as the lyrical themes, “Maschinenmusik” is a very adequate title. It’s almost as if the human creating music using machines is himself a tool of the machines or even partially machine. Most of the music appears to be a praising of the qualities of the machines, their inherent beauty and their interaction and merging with the human element. “Maschinenmusik” is one of those catchy albums that risks gluing itself to your player while some of its songs stay in your head for some time.
The album is divided into three parts. Considering the nature of the tracks in the first part, quite reminiscent of Kraftwerk and DAF in the way robotic rhythmical work is coupled with minimalist melodies and vocoder vocal distortion, one could easily describe the music as “robot-pop” or dance music for robots. This first part consists of solid pieces of music work (several being very catchy) and is quite pleasant to listen to, but one gets the feeling that the tracks could be a bit longer. One may be hard pressed to chose particular tracks but, nevertheless, “Plastik Fantastik” and “VAD” come across as the catchiest tracks in the album even though the robotic ballads “Maschinen [v2.0]”, “Maschinenmusic” and “Heimcomputer” are equally as good (if not better). The first part comes to an end as the machine burns, in “Maschine Brennt”.
On the second part, one finds four remixes by famous acts from the dark-electro and EBM scenes. One can easily live without the Armageddon Dildos remix (and without their return to musical activity as well) which is uninspired at best. Particularly good is the :wumpscut: remix of the track “Monoton Synchron”, which follows pretty much in the same vein as his latest release “Bone Peeler”. The remixes by Suicide Commando and Solitary Experiments are good but don’t add much to the originals.
The third and final part of “Maschinenmusik” consists of two experimental/ambient tracks, which are basically droning experiments with oscillators, both adequately titled “Schlafmodus” (1 and 2). Perhaps intended as contrast to the robotic electro-pop tracks in the first and second parts, they sound somewhat insipid and uninspired and give the feeling of simple filler material.
“Maschinenmusik” may not be exceptional but is nevertheless interesting as well as original in many aspects and pretty well-produced. It is worth checking out.
— Miguel de Sousa