Independent Electronic Music label Plonk, have released their 4th Machine Pop Compilation. For those of you that aren't familiar with these collections, they feature bands and artists inspired by Kraftwerk. The compilations are also a focal point for our "Kraftwerk" themed radio shows.
The album kicks off with a very impressive track, "Robotic Love" by Kosmonaute, who are from Sweden and make their debut on this series of compilations, this is as close as you will get to a "Machine Pop Ballad", the lead synth melody is a thing of pure beauty, working perfectly in tandem with the vocoded vocals, the track dates back to 2013 and I am amazed I haven't come across it before, my favourite track on the album.
The more I hear of Unisonlab the more I like their music and again they deliver with "League Of Machines", a bass driven track with some nice melodic touches. Next we have Gary Wright who records under the name Neon, I have been familiar with Gary's music for many years and is probably the one artist that gets close to that "Kraftwerk" sound, "Future Technology" is brilliant, with excellent use of synths and vocoder, he is a master at creating melodic parts on his songs. He has many songs recorded in the Neon vault and should release a complete album of his own material.
Datapop contribute the track "Radioklang", taken from their stunning album "Pop", if you love Kraftwerk I highly recommend this album (you will find a full review on this blog here). "Radioklang" is pure electro pop and very infectious, it has a chorus you will be singing over and over in no time. The track is well constructed, with lots going on, plent of catchy sequencer riffs and melodies, pushes "Robotic Love" very close for being the best track on the album.
Kretz are a familiar name on these compilations and their track "Ich Bin Ein Klon" has a much harder sound than the tracks before it, I do like the synth pads on this as well as the rhythm track, another solid track. Another newcomer is French Electronic outfit Marboss, "P3-P6" is a fine track, some brilliant synthwork, especially the bottom end bass sounds and lead synth, excellent use of percussive sounds as well. I'm sure we will hear a lot more from this band.
I am a big fan of the work of Maschine Brennt, especially their debut album "The Hearing Aid" (again reviewed on this blog here). Featured here is the track "60 Seconds", which isn't on "The Hearing Aid", it is fast becomming my favourite Maschine Brennt track. A superbly produced track with elements of Kraftwerk's "Computer World" album evident in the sound. This is Machine Pop perfection. Silicon Machines make their first appearance since the very first "Machine Pop" compilation and what a return it is too, "Basic" has a fabulous bassline running through it which hits you like New Order's "Blue Monday" bassline. Fantastic use of vocal samples and vocoder, a very upbeat track, excellent again.
Sector One have appeared on every "Machine Pop" compilation so far and here they contribute the track "The Operation". The bass sequencer reminded me of the bassline on The Human League track "Open Your Heart". There is a touch of Acid thrown in and a strong sequenced melodic pattern. I wasn't keen on the industrial noises in the track, that said, the song structure is good and I especially like the use of pad sounds in the latter half of the song.
Making their debut on the album is Kevin Lux, like Marboss, he recently signed to the Plonk Music label. Kevin has been making electronic music for many years, his sound is probably more commercial than some of the tracks featured here, "Business" is a fantastic track with good use of sequencers and rhythm patterns and the sampled "Speak & Spell" voices are very "Computer World". He will be a great addition to the label, of that I have no doubt. Lobtec is a side project of Maschine Brennt, their offering is "Y03914" and is a much darker sounding track, touching both the dance and techno genre. The final track is by Deutsche Bank and it is called "Grand Unified Theory" and is everything you expect from them, strong bassline, melodic synth parts and vocoder, the main synth melody is stunning, Mats has a good ear for a catchy melody, a superb closing track.
Another brilliant compilation by Plonk and a word on the artwork, it is one of the best covers I have seen for a music release, all in all a very impressive addition to the "We Are Machine Pop" family. Well worth adding to your music collection if you like your Electronic Music and especially if you like Kraftwerk.
The album is available via Bandcamp: https://plonk.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-machine-pop-4
You will find all 4 compilations here: https://plonk.bandcamp.com/
Visit the Plonk Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/plonklabel/