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Manufacture succeeds, but only by copying pop formulas

VOICE OF WORLD CONTROL

Manufacture.

Netwerk Records.

By RICK ROOS

BOSTON'S OWN MANUFACTURE, A band long poised for success in the alternative music market, may have found the ideal sound mix to finally gain commercial acceptance with their latest release, Voice of World Control.

One has to hand it to musical veterans Manufacture. They seem to have realized the easiest and most surefire method for success in the world of mainstream popular music: Find something that sells, and copy it. The band, which is now being touted as one of the brightest hopes of Netwerk records (a label with such industrial favorites as Skinny Puppy, Consolidated, MC 900 Foot Jesus, and DJ Zero on its roster), has put together a dazzling array of samples and near-plagiaristic melodies and riffs on Voice of World Control.

The album's 11 tracks feature a range of hooks which are startlingly reminiscent of recent efforts by some of alternative and industrial music's most recognizable talents. The first and most obvious example is in the track "A Measured Response." The song is laden with chanted lyrics and an all-too-familiar New Order backbeat. The same shameless copying is evident on "New Decisions," a cut which sounds like something edited out of the last Depeche Mode album. The tracks which have more of an industrial bent, such as "Mean Machine," "Drug Squad" and "Pain Amplifier," seem derivative from the clever and original work of truly cutting edge bands like Front 242, Nitzer Ebb and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. The result of this "borrowing" leaves the listener ambivalent; the rhythms are often infectious and clever, but at the same time one cannot help but be annoyed with these Vanilla Ices of the alternative music world.

The few original tracks on the disc again leave the listener with mixed emotions. The combination of brash noise and synthesizers is worked to perfection in the album's lead track, "World Control," one of the most enjoyable cuts on the disc. This track succeeds where the cuts "Running Mad" and "My Destiny" fail by melding together heavy beats and sampled voices while managing to avoid either monotony or eclipsing into a sort of musical drone.

Another fine track is "Emergency Broadcast," with its angry, unintelligible lyrics and seething backbeat. It is a daring addition owing much to Consolidated's "White American Male," a song that reaches out and grabs the listener in a choke hold.

The album's one truly reprehensible and utterly forgettable cut is "Control Yourself," which comes off as a vile combination of The Pet Shop Boys, New Order and Paula Abdul. The song's lyrics are about as poignant and clever as bathroom graffiti and what little musicianship is exhibited can best be described as pathetic. (Sure enough, the track is becoming a monster crossover hit across the United States.)

Those listeners lusting for something original and new to come about in music will balk at Voice of World Control. However, for those of you who like the idea of a band that basically sounds like Depeche Mode with a sprinkle of Nine Inch Nails, a dash of Nitzer Ebb, and a heaping tablespoon of New Order, then Manufacture has just concocted the recipe to feed your musical tastebuds.