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

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Spirit - 1984 – Be warned, this is not an authorized release — not even close. What we have here is (a) one track ("1984") recorded live in Bremen in 1969 (no further details...), (b) the entire...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues