Exposé Online banner

Cluster — 1971 - 1981
(Bureau B BB222, 1981/2016, 9CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-07-02

1971 - 1981 Cover art

Bureau B has released a massive boxed set containing the full versions of Cluster’s official albums released between 1971 and 1981: Cluster 71, Cluster II, Zuckerzeit, Soweisoso, Cluster & Eno, Eno Moebius Roedelius/After the Heat, Grosses Wasser, and Curiosum. All eight were remastered by Willem Makkee. Along with the music there is an article by Asmus Tietchens on the evolution and significance of the band, as well as booklets containing essays on each individual album and rare photos. In addition, there is a ninth album of previously unreleased concerts: “Konzerte 1972/1977 - Fabrik, Hamburg 1972” and “Konzerte 1972/1977 - Festival International de la Science-Fiction, Metz 1977.” Up to now, you would have to purchase this boxed set in order to obtain the live material. However, on May 19, 2017 Bureau B is releasing the live music as Konzerte 1972/1977. There is not much point in reviewing each of the eight studio albums as many of our readers should be familiar with the music. Suffice it to say, the remastering sounds great. So I am going to focus my attention on the two previously unreleased tracks. The sound quality is average, but impressive for 1972 and 1977. Bureau B felt that it was more important to present successful performances rather than perfect recordings. A typical Cluster performance in the 70s could last six hours or more, so we are fortunate to have a glimpse into the early days of Cluster’s creative process. In the beginning, Cluster’s music was raw, brutal, and spontaneous. They used rudimentary electronic sound sources, not synths, sequencers, or high end amps. They leveraged their devices to create their compositions, relying on intuition and improvisation. Some times that did not work, but when it did the results were magical. The Fabrik performance is 21 minutes of bubbly pulsating analog sounds and razor sharp fuzzed tones with Moebius and Roedelius springboarding off each other’s ideas. The music slowly evolves into a floating tranquil safe zone. Five years later the Metz performance is entirely different. This nearly 23 minute performance consists of drones, throbbing electronics, and harmonic interactions. This is not a "set up the electronics and let them interact" piece. Moebius and Roedelius are listening to each other, making adjustments, and together moving into uncharted territory. About 10 minutes in a repeating loop provides a slow metronomic beat lasting about three minutes. Then they take us into a surreal sensory deprived realm. One thing that you can rely on with Cluster is that they do not remain complacent with their music, they are constantly changing direction, though it may be slow rather than rapid. These are great performances and are well worth the price of the boxed set, especially if you do not own the studio albums. Otherwise wait until May for Bureau B’s release of Konzerte.


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Brian Eno, Cluster / Kluster / Qluster, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius

Latest news

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jeff Beck - Jeff – It’s hard to believe that Jeff Beck is pushing sixty. After successful recent endeavors incorporating techno, sampling, and tribal rhythms into his grab bag mix of backing tracks, the guitar slinger...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues