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Kluster - Klopfzeichen CD (album) cover





3.27 | 29 ratings

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3 stars Immeasurable sounds

Comprised of Conrad Schnitzler and the soon to be Cluster duo of Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius, Kluster is today seen as one of the pivotal names of the early experimental electronic scene. A far cry from the later velvety shadings of the Berlin school, their debut album Klopfzeichen offers up a grim industrial palette of ominous metallic music.

Schnitzler and Roedelius originally met in the underground scene of Düsseldorf, where all kinds of experiments took place. It started out at the Zodiac Free Arts commune that sported equal measures of psychedelic music, free jazz and avantguarde trickery. This was way back in 1968, and it shows us that Krautrock, as we today know it, developed over a long period of time. It was through new ideas of how to live, express oneself and communicate with each other that eventually metamorphosed into the outspoken musical freedom, that I personally have come to love so dearly.

Klopfzeichen came into being around the same time that Tangerine Dream's Electronic Meditation was made. Most places on the internet state that it came out in 1970, but Kluster's debut was in fact made a whole year earlier. Schnitzler played on both of these legendary albums, and while he never was ring leader of either band, you can certainly hear distinct similarities between the both. For starters, the production of these albums makes me think of an old abandoned factory hall surrounded by big piles of rubble and discarded rusty bicycle corpses. Raw and unfiltered like an iron smoothie with jaggedy nails and swinging hammers.

Born out of improvisation, Klopfzeichen balances a tightrope of brooding stretched out surfaces and experimental sways of music that literally flickers about in your living room, whenever you decide to take the plunge and let yourself emerge in the darkness.

Ominous piano clinkering, buzzing whirlwind effects, tick tocking metal sounds and unsettling soundscapes that'll have your eyelids twitching, this album is anything but a soothing relaxing electronic excursion. If anything, it offered up the blueprint behind the industrial palette that later on was defined and rearranged by acts such as Faust, Throbbing Gristle and Zoviet France. On here we find it in a muddy embryonic state that mumbles its way through a sombre marmalade wall that colours everything around it in contour-less grime and moist dust.

I have no way of describing this album in a befitting manner. Two long cuts of music made for a romantic meeting between ancient shipyards and oilfield workers. Or maybe it would make for an outstanding soundtrack to a tale of an interstellar blacksmith with robotic bees in his joints. This whole record actually feels like an aching body - like rhythmic arthritis in a man that magically takes on the unnatural form of correlated iron and reverberating screeches.

Klopfzeichen is not your everyday bip bip album, as you probably will have picked up by now. Every sound uttered by either the piano, strings or organs are thrown into that marmalade wall I was on about before. It's those treatments that transform this album from an early Stockhausen like experiment, to the boundary pushing electronic record it is.

To make matters even more incomprehensible, Kluster's first two albums were indeed sponsored by the local church. The in-house organist was drawn to the immeasurable sounds of the group and somehow found a way to sponsor their early endeavours. This is also the reason behind the archaic female incantations of the first cut, that dabbles in esoteric religious motifs and other such guilt fuelled mind constellations. The revolution as often referred to, is on the verge of being on the verge - as always really, but on here you sense a strange symbiosis of wild unhinged youth and the towering biblical escapades of some 2000 years tumbling together.

This is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination. It's a curiosity - a rare fluke of experimental music that somehow miraculously got to see the light of day through the help of the most unlikely of places, and still.................I feel lucky to have this in my possession. I played it this morning with a high fever and felt delirious for 40 minutes straight - I climbed the ceiling in a highly inelegant manner and went out of my body, only to land right back where I came from. The journey had taken me out on watery metal surfaces that tricked me into believing that I was gone, away from this earth, if only for a short while. Now that is a feat in itself, and one I surely dare to duplicate the next time I feel like a run-over turd. 3.5 stars

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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