Album: Man Made Machine
Blurb: The human equation takes center stage on the band’s fourth album, but without losing the distinctly dirty technological edge that defines MOTOR.
Bryan Black and Mr. No – collectively known as MOTOR – have made a name for themselves with their gritty brand of electro, releasing three albums and performing several remixes, all chockfull of their signature blend of dark and distorted textures underscored by beats as sensually danceable as they are disconcertingly caustic. With Man Made Machine, the duo takes a different approach toward a more vocally driven sound that retains their dirty, sexual edge but with a fair helping of melodies that range from eerily haunting to passionately bluesy.
“Messed Up” begins with Black taking the lead in his quintessentially down-pitched whisper atop an immediately catchy bass pulse and simple beat that is almost laughable in its simplicity; an engaging start that sets the stage for the album’s seductive techno vibe. The song even possesses an off-key metallic solo that is reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s earlier industrial experiments, making Martin L. Gore’s presence on the title track all the more appropriate as he croons sexily over layers of swells and squelches of overdriven synths drenched in feedback. Similarly, Billie Ray Martin’s soulful delivery on “Hyper Lust” lends an air of classic smoothness and feminine sensuality to the hollow synthesized atmosphere, while Reni Lane gives “Hello” a lovely robotic quality that reminds this writer of GlaDOS from the Portal games. The same can be said for the distorted stomp of “Pleasure in Heaven” as the original android voice of Gary Numan adds to the song’s ambience. Conversely, Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy returns, having appeared on MOTOR’s Klunk debut, to add a bit of erotic menace in a manner reminiscent of his performance on Recoil’s “Stalker.”
With Man Made Machine, MOTOR reinforces the human side of the equation, only allowing the technology so much leeway to drive the sound without taking control. Even as the vocals are manipulated throughout to give the impression of the machine’s attempt to emulate humanity, the cadence and tonality of each featured voice is such that only a living, thinking, feeling person could perform. But make no mistake; MOTOR’s Man Made Machine remains true to the band’s name and the album title as the product of an artificial mechanism, full of Black’s and No’s signature dirty electronics and pulsating rhythms sure to get you hot between the sheets and on the dance floor.
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)