While their heads are calculating Krautrock equations, their hearts are yearning for Smeg fridges.
While their heads are calculating Krautrock equations, their hearts are yearning for Smeg fridges. ‘Manual‘ is where chugging, late-’70s art-rock action meets a twisted Americana of vaguely spooky black and white kettle ads. It’s there in the abstract expressionist painting on the album sleeve, it’s there in the song titles (‘Food Music‘, ‘Enjoy Your Nutrition‘). This is Day-Glo consumerism stripped down by rigid German thinking.
No surprise then that it results in predictable, repetitive industrial music. Think Stereolab without the situationism but with added Cold War claustrophobia, a less angular Billy Mahonie… or alternatively, just listen to current single ‘Pacifica‘ and then imagine nine variations on that theme.
There’s the odd deviation, but basically there is only one idea running through this album. Lock into a groove built on two-note bass rumbles and looped guitar lines until a climax is reached. Sometimes James Brooks overlays a doped vocal. Sometimes he doesn’t. Elsewhere paint, in an angsty kind of way, dries.
Multiply the ’50s by the ’70s and you don’t get the future, it seems. You get