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Dieter Moebius - Material CD (album) cover


Dieter Moebius


Progressive Electronic

3.81 | 12 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Anyone with a serious interest in music will remember the legendary German producer Conny Plank, who before his untimely death in 1987 had worked with just about every notable band on the Continent (or so it seemed). But in CLUSTER's Dieter Moebius he found a genuine kindred spirit, and on their second album together they plowed an idiosyncratic path through Germany's fertile music scene, combining up-to-the-minute electronic experimentation with an unexpected touch of Teutonic wit.

Their debut collaboration (1979's "Rastakraut Pasta") closed the previous decade with style, and two years later this follow-up was likewise a breath of fresh air in the stale musical climate of the 1980s. This was a decade (you'll recall with a shudder) of skinny ties, bright sneakers, big beats and bad hair, with an unhealthy emphasis on empty style perhaps lampooned in the album's mock-generic title and tongue-in-cheek cover photo of a distinctly unglamorous pile of trash bags.

The album opener "Conditionierer" could almost be heard as a brilliant satire of then- current musical clichés, sounding not unlike yet another standard New Wave dance number, except for all the subversive weirdness lurking just behind the beat: manic slide guitars gone haywire; beer-hall horns in alpine liederhosen; and one of those relentless Krautrock grooves that just won't stop (think of NEU!'s "Hallogallo", '80s style).

"Infiltration" slows the pace down with one of Moebius' patented rhythm-box patterns (set to maximum grunge), percolating under a dubby two-note bass guitar riff and a lot of offhand noise: telephone operators, PA announcers, radio wave interference and so forth. If HOLGER CZUKAY (CAN's musical loose cannon) wasn't actually involved in the recording, his cut-and-paste spirit was certainly being channeled by Moebius and Plank in a big way.

Opening Side Two (on the original vinyl) is "Tollkühn", not much more than six minutes of mad, fuzzed-up sequencers and cymbals, easily five minutes longer than necessary. And the electro-throb improvisation of "Osmo-fantor" is a short diversion that never fully develops into anything, but sets up the haunting soundscape of "Nordöstliches Gefühl" very nicely.

This final track (rough translation: "Northeastern Feeling") is a slower, melancholy piece set around a reverberating drum machine and a simple electric piano. It unfolds with an almost cinematic flair, suggesting the post-war urban alienation of an early Wim Wenders movie, and providing a dramatically mismatched but evocative bookend to the upbeat energy of "Conditionierer".

Like their first album this one is far too short: only 35 minutes, give or take a beat or two. The silver lining is the fact that both were later combined in their entirety on a single CD, a generous windfall to budget-minded Progheads and, like the team that produced them, a match made in Krautrock heaven.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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