Die Krupps knows two things: The impending post-apocalyptic hellscape run by Nazi robots, and sweet dance beats. Since the 1980s, they were known for their obsession with all things war, all things propaganda (cough cough, Ralf Dorper), and all things satire. Over the years their musical formula remained as consistent as their theme. With the new release of Die Krupps’ The Machinists of Joy, I became a mindless human dance machine while learning to yell in German. This album is sort of a hard-ebm/industrial mix and I found it addictive.
Opening with “Risikofaktor”, a little strange wet synth chimes into a simplistic stomp beat while Jurgen Engler spits out very stiff, calculated, and angst-filled spoken word vocals. The only risikofaktor was me dancing too badly. The following track “Nazis auf Speed” sounds like it was written by Nazis auf speed. The track begins with some high-pitched guitars that work their way into another famous, hard-hitting stomp beat. The riffs continue intermittently, the beat fluctuates, and satirical sample recordings are thrown into this powerful track.
I really have to give it up to an artist for creating horrible portmanteaus. Such is the case for the third track, “Robo Sapien”. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s another deadpan, spoken-word track, but this one is in English. There remains that industrial rock element from the prior track, but this one is a bit more progressive. I think the best part of the track is when “robo sapien” is repeated into a vocoder to sound like a robot. Very funny, Die Krupps.
And now for the namesake! I’m always harsh about these songs for obvious reasons. “The Machinists of Joy” is a little lackluster compared to other tracks on the album, but it’s still good. It’s a little more stripped down, it’s a little more minimalist, but something about it works. The synth work is just wacky enough to be cool (weirdest tones ever), and there’s something oddly circuslike about it. What the song lacks in musical elements it makes up in strangeness.
Another minimalist track starts off with a cool 80’s monosynth and a laser gun. It’s called “Part of the Machine” and it has no place in 2013. That’s the charm though. The next few songs stray away from that minimalist feel, but the weird remains. “Eiskalter Engel” sounds like it was written by 16-bit WWII caricatures… however that works out. It’s cute, but of course it’s mocking. The synth is upbeat and thin, and there’s a theremin. So I don’t think I need to say more.
The last two tracks are my favorite. “Nocebo” is an eerie, more progressive mix of cool arpeggiations, gritty bass, guitar riffs, and Engler’s creepy lyrics. And, as stated, I’m a big fan of those bad portmanteaus. The album finale “Im Schatten der Ringe” begins a little synthpop-y and grows into a very layered, very atmospheric 80’s style spoken track. It’s excellent closure for Machinists of Joy as it incorporates all the memorable elements of the prior tracklist. I don’t really have any legitimate complaints for this album. I’m more shocked that Die Krupps still kicks Auschwitz after all these years.