It seemed impossible that the oceanic sound produced by German technopop group Propaganda at the 9:30 club Sunday was made by only six people.
Like ZTT record label mate Frankie Goes to Hollywood before them, Propaganda performed live over a taped backing track of sweeping synthesized washes and effects that fleshed out the sound to gorgeous effect, but also robbed the performance of spontaneity.
Propaganda's girls-and-noise format and the numbing homogeneity of its material made it resemble Abba in a minor key. The band is fronted by two statuesque blonds: Suzanne Freytag, who did little but scream now and then and look stunning in a white sheath; and Claudia Bru cken, who carried all the lead vocals. Bru cken has a remarkably strong voice that, devoid of human warmth, is like an eerie mating of woman and machine.
A four-man rhythm section (including vibes and xylophone, a rock rarity) added a rock wallop to the mechanistic, martial rhythms during the short set, culled from Propaganda's debut LP "A Secret Wish," plus a stately, imperious cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale," originally sung nearly 20 years ago by Nico, another Germanic ice princess.