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Cluster - Cluster & Eno CD (album) cover





3.43 | 52 ratings

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4 stars The first of the Cluster/Eno collaborations to be released (though both came from the same sessions), Cluster & Eno is the more consistent of their two albums. It's a good example of a collaboration that brings out the best in all concerned, and the result is a little gem of an album that achieves the kind of timeless beauty that can be heard on some of Popol Vuh's albums of about the same vintage, or Jade Warrior's Floating World.

It's a purely instrumental affair which combines Eno's detached minimalism with Cluster's atmospheric soundscapes. The music has a warmth and humanity that is sometimes lacking in Eno's ambient excursions and a sense of structure that Cluster didn't always have on their 70s albums. The opening piece, Ho Renomo, features a guest appearance by the incomparable Holger Czukay and sets the scene for what is to follow - a simple theme is played on one instrument (usually one of the keyboards, though there is also some pleasantly non virtuoso guitar to be heard) and then a variety of sounds, textures and counter melodies are played around it. Most of the pieces seem to grow organically, and there is little emphasis on linear melodic or harmonic development, which adds another layer of exoticism to the music. The pieces are mostly short (the longest clocks in at just over 6 minutes) and while the texture shifts and changes constantly there is a consistent mood retained for the full 36 minutes. It's not all wispy keyboards and synths either - Mit Simaen is a purely acoustic piano piece which recalls the music of Erik Satie, while Selange (which opened side 2 of the vinyl original) has a slow backbeat played on some extemely rudimentary percussion. Die Bunge even features a chord change, which is effective partly because it is unexpected at that point in the album. One is the longest track and features a couple of guest musicians on what sound like Indian instruments, which are manipulated and distorted (presumably by Eno) while Cluster create a hypnotic elecronic backdrop. It's the darkest track on the album, and for all the lack of events on the surface it constantly mutates and reveals new facets of itself. The album closes with the beautiful, piano based Wehrmut, a ghostly fragment that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Eno's Music For Films.

Cluster & Eno isn't quite a 5 star classic of progressive music (in some ways it's closer to ambient than prog) but it is a classic of it's genre - 4.5 stars and a strong recommendation to fans of Aonther Green World.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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