Remember Kraftwerk – four compellingly eccentric men who wanted to be robots, and who made a rather nifty line in electronic tunes about bicycles, calculators and European models. It seems some were more influenced than others….

System are Herr A and Herr B – a duo who create music dubbed as “the missing link between Kraftwerk and And One”. Scratch that, more like the band that wishes they had been born Kraftwerk. The fact is they are so, so like Kraftwerk in their style of music and also their image that it would almost be foolish to not draw comparisons.

“Sample and Hold” is their first release with Progress Productions, though they have recorded on the Lobotom Label previously. The album starts with “Rhythm Machine”, which sets the tone for what is to come. It is eerily reminiscent of Kraftwerk – I mean eerily; the machine voices, pads, rhythm structures, practically everything! A nice enough track, but highly unoriginal! Unfortunately this is how it seems to continue well into the album, nice enough tracks, but a lack something that makes them anything like unique.

By the time we get to “Under Control” there is arguably a pull slightly away from the mold. “Dystopia” began to interest me, with its slightly early rave intro stylings – but the vocoder vocals soon snapped me back again. Something doesn’t quite sit with some of these tracks' vocodered deliveries (of which there are many) – mainly due to the cold, inhuman nature of the voices. I know, before you even think it, that that is probably the intention, to make the vocals sound cool; but remember cool is cool; trying to be cool often leaves people cold!

“Dead Noise” is the best here; it has atmosphere, and at least tries to pull away from the Kraftwerk formula, as does “Sample and Hold” which is quite strange in this selection. It is a much more experimental effort, with some interesting sounds incorporated. I like the up-tempo nature of the track and wish that more effort had been placed on this than the Kraftwerk-lite tracks during the early part of the album. I would have preferred to hear these than the previous offerings, but unfortunately, even considering these tracks, it still only adds up to too little too late.

All in all Herr A and B, I’m afraid I have to tell you that when you try to take on the mantle of such legendary acts, you will inevitably be compared to them, and in the taste test people often go for the tried and trusted brands!


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