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Krautrock • Germany

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Cluster biography
Formed in Berlin, Germany in 1971 - Disbanded in 1981 - Regrouped from 1989-1997 and again 2007-2010

After a scission of the avant-garde (Berlin) group KLUSTER due to the departure of Conrad Schnitzler, the two musicians Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius go to work in duet as « CLUSTER ». The band's first years were clearly orientated to Krautrock and to experimental electronic music. Consequently, the production of the band started with massive, radical improvisations, constructed around electric organ works, electronic collages, guitar sound manipulations, feed back. The result is rather similar to KLUSTER's underground, conceptual music, very chaotic with lot of distortion and reverb. With its repetitive, hypnotic guitar patterns and embryonic electronic collages, the second album "II" can be seen as a classic in 70's German electronic underground. This high quality experimental electronic music will progressively lead the band to something far from the kraut rock scene and extreme music.

Since 1974, CLUSTER has recorded many albums of ambitious, pre-ambient electronic music with gorgeous synth arrangements, a groovy tone and a constant sense of melody. "Zuckerzeit", "Sowiesoso" and "Grosses Wasser" are the most representative progressive albums of the band's career. At the same time, the two CLUSTER's members begin to work in solo and in collaboration with others artists (notably Brian ENO and Michael Rother for the project "Harmonia"). They published many innovative, complex and attractive sounds for contemporary and ambient music.

Individually or together, Roedelius and Moebius are now recognised as pioneers of the "Kosmische Musik genre", extending the experiences of contemporary music thanks to the growing capacities of modern technologies.

: : : Philippe Blache, FRANCE : : :

See also: HERE

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Sowiesoso [Vinyl]Sowiesoso [Vinyl]
Bureau B 2016
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Cluster Ii /  ClusterCluster Ii / Cluster
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UNIVE 2004
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Cluster 71Cluster 71
Bureau B 2010
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Kollektion 06: Cluster (1971-1981) CompiledKollektion 06: Cluster (1971-1981) Compiled
Bureau B 2016
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Berlin 07Berlin 07
Important Records 2008
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Bureau B 2016
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CLUSTER discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

CLUSTER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.94 | 80 ratings
3.92 | 86 ratings
Cluster II
3.55 | 72 ratings
3.22 | 42 ratings
3.43 | 49 ratings
Cluster & Eno
2.83 | 28 ratings
Grosses Wasser
2.75 | 19 ratings
3.56 | 9 ratings
Apropos Cluster
3.20 | 10 ratings
One Hour
3.36 | 14 ratings

CLUSTER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.48 | 8 ratings
First Encounter Tour 1996
4.25 | 4 ratings
Live Japan 1996
3.17 | 4 ratings
Berlin 07

CLUSTER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CLUSTER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.95 | 3 ratings

CLUSTER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cluster & Eno by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.43 | 49 ratings

Cluster & Eno
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars By 1977 Brian Eno had shrugged off his feather boas and was cultivating a prescient interest in minimalism, just in time to avoid the terminal bombast eroding Progressive Rock's higher ideals at the end of the decade. In a year that saw the release of Pink Floyd's inflated "Animals" and ELP's even more pompous "Works, Volume 1", it's no wonder the ex-Roxy Music hermaphrodite cut his hair short and turned his creative gaze toward Germany, where a rebel subculture of kindred pioneers like Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius was quietly dismantling the electronic music rule book.

In retrospect the collaboration was more Eno than Cluster, extending the former's "Music For Films" project, in construction at exactly the same time. The nine brief doodles presented here don't exactly qualify as ambient soundtrack fodder, but they show a similar, highly evolved sense of near-subliminal understatement: rich in atmosphere and nuance, and purposely designed to have an almost negligible impact.

Under the reliable guidance of producer/guru Conny Plank - the invisible fourth member of the trio - the album made an admirable virtue of its compositional modesty. The opening "Ho Renomo", featuring Can's Holger Czukay on bass guitar, is a notable highlight: five hypnotic minutes of undiluted Krautrock mesmerism, the sound of a treasured childhood memory recalled in dreams.

The six-minute "One" (Eno spelled backward of course, and by far the album's longest track) is another obvious standout. Like so much else in the 1970s it looked east for way of the planet Neptune, in this case. That persistent drone was the work of Dutch sitar enthusiast Okko Bekker, who would rejoin Plank and Moebius the following year on the self-titled Liliental album.

Eno, Moebius and Roedelius would likewise meet again (see: "After the Heat", 1978). But the sequel, while excellent in its own way, lacked the surprising novelty of the original: a revelation of sorts in 1977, and still worth hearing when the pace of modern life becomes too hectic.

 Cluster II by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.92 | 86 ratings

Cluster II
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars The duo of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius deliver nothing in the way of tunes or melodic moments on their second Cluster album from 1972, `Cluster II', nor is it particularly similar to the subdued spacey drifts of the frequently near- ambient debut. Instead, noisy experiments, druggy improvisations and cryptic instrumental collages of guitar, organ and electronics are the order of the day here, closer to the darker atmospheres of the early Krautrock-era works of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.

Opener `Plas' is a churning stormy drone that grows in stature amidst a heartbeat-like wavering klaxon and harsh ebbing and flowing serrated slivers. A snarling and grumbling electric guitar line repeats over and over into infinity throughout `Im Suden' with ambient distortion washes shimmering to the surface behind them, everything swamped in an unceasing brewing rumble of feedback. Chiming guitar tendrils try to snake their way through an air of shuffling electronic spirals and pulsing machine hisses that slowly abate to allow the briefest of light to enter, and`Fur Die Katz's alien-like twitches and scratchy distortion close the first side, a piece that could have easily found a home on Tangerine Dream's proto-dark ambient `Zeit'.

The suffocating `Live In Der Fabrik' on the flip side is a cavernous environment of chugging machine oscillations feverishly ripped apart by delirious electronic ripples, and the growing menace of `Georgel's sombre droning organ with the lightest of crystalline airy wisps flitting about could have easily worked its way out of the spacey improvised section of Pink Floyd's `A Saucerful of Secrets' and `Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' live performances from the late Sixties. Closer `Nabitte' wraps the disc on smiles and, wait, make that mucky clanging nightmares of brooding jagged piano and groaning eerie voices makes for deeply unpleasant stuff, pretty much the perfect soundtrack to the seediest snuff tape.

`Cluster II' really gets under the skin with grubby fingernails, making for supremely uneasy listening but also one that remains wickedly addictive and completely consuming, laced beginning to end with that dirty sense of danger that permeates all the most satisfying Krautrock works.

Four stars.

 Zuckerzeit by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.55 | 72 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Electronic sugar cubes

1974 was definitely an important year in the history of development of electronic music. Alongside with KRAFTWERK's "Authobahn" and TANGERINE DREAM's "Phaedra", CLUSTER's "Zuckerzeit" is the last piece of the Holy Trinity of 70's electronica. Much more accessible than the freaked-out experimental long krautjams from their two first opuses and completely different from other synthesized suites of the same time period, the compositions of this third album are short titles, less improvised and more structured, with a greater usage of electronics and sound effects. Why is this disc so particular?

Whereas the men-machine of Düsseldorf will become the godfathers of electro/synth-pop, whereas TD's extended hypnotic meditative soundscapes announce the techno/trance of the 90's, Roedelius and Moebius explore another path, populated with little electronic creatures living on their own in an ethereal and out-of-time place. The approach goes a little further than other bands and foreshadows 90's electronica, more precisely the so-called "IDM", such as APHEX TWIN and early AUTECHRE. Even more ahead of its time than their fellow countrymen, this minimalistic post-electronic music succeeds at emancipating from its krautrock roots and Moog brothers by proposing very futuristic and modern tracks, seeming to come from another world (and another decade too). Furthermore, the beats are also quite unusual and inventive for the 70's, 15 years before the second electronic revolution. Incredible!

Curiously, the two musicians have not collaborated for this record. They composed five titles each, their styles being entirely opposite. Hans-Joachim Roedelius' compositions are the white sugar cubes, spacey, relaxing and accessible, whereas Dieter Moebius' are the brown sugar cubes, darker, more disturbed and aggressive. The contrast is thrilling. As a result, the listener is constantly switching between ambiances, alternating peaceful and rockier passages.

This approach and opposition will also be present one year later in another important "eleckraut" album of the decade, "Neu!75", with Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger. Interesting when you know Rother is the third member of HARMONIA alongside with the CLUSTER duo, as well as "Zuckerzeit"'s coproducer.

More calm and spacey, Roedelius' tracks are my favorite. The mesmerizing drops of "Hollywood" will make you directly travel through the stars. This title has certainly influenced APHEX TWIN in his youth. Magnificent! The soothing crystalline "Rosa" is rather contemplative, nearly melancholic, like a delicate pocket universe. "Fotschi Tong" and "Marzipan" are peaceful and playful Asian passages, while the finale "Heiße Lippen" is just sublime, in the style of "NEU!'75", a genuine open window on the future to come... Voluptuous and magic, needless to say more...

Moebius' compositions are also rather good but more demanding and uneven. "Caramel" is somber, repetitive, and possesses a really modern beat. Only track to exceed 5 minutes, "Rote Riki" sounds like a ramshackle old computer out of control. Dissonant, a bit too long, nonetheless futuristic. However, the title the most ahead of its time may be "Caramba". Despite its threatening krautrock background... was this pre-techno music really recorded in the 70's? In contrast, the intruder of this record is the guitar-driven "James". With its bizarre introduction, this slowed down krautblues reminds a little NEU!'s "Super 16". "Rotor" is my least favorite passage of the album, quickly becoming irritating. Fortunately, this is also the shortest.

With "Zuckerzeit", CLUSTER definitely opens a new musical universe up. The German duo can be considered as the APHEX TWINs of the 70's. As for the English autodidact, their titles are little independent synthetic creatures, living and growing on their own, exhibiting two opposite faces: the light side, relaxing, ethereal and dreamy, and the dark side, disturbing, like a mad machine. Although overshadowed by their electronic brothers, this groundbreaking third opus is highly influential and truly visionary for the 70's, going beyond krautrock and Berlin School, with beats and arrangements unheard before.

Both vintage and incredibly modern, both imperfect and breathtaking, "Zuckerzeit" is a milestone, simply essential for anyone interested in the history of electronic music, as well as for fans or 90's electronica, such APHEX TWIN and AUTECHRE.

 Curiosum by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.75 | 19 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Curiosum'' opens with my all time favourite Cluster tune. 'Oh, Odessa'. It has a splodgy fat bass line with sprinklings of electronic tweakery. A menacing little tune that always makes me smile. Such a pity then that it's over in just three minutes.

Setting aside the great introduction 'Cluster' sound so lacklustre at this late period in their discography. Almost as though they've been anesthetized for the rest of the album. It's like listening to Zombie's attempting to replicate Mozart. Slow, plodding yet somewhat chilling if played at high volume 'Curiosum' was the right time for the duo to have a lengthy hiatus.

Melodies come and go like like petals in the wind. Unstable throbbing wobbly sounds bleep and burp. It's a lot better than their previous recording 'Grosses Wasser' as it has far more diversity in sound. Bendy, broken, discordant keyboards is the one thing I'll always remember from this.

The album gets odder the the longer it goes on. At times it almost feels like you're drowning, listening to lullabies sung by dolphins as they swoop up to your face to see if you're alright.

I don't think any of this recording was scored. It sounds like an improvisation. It's too erratic, with too little cohesion and only the unsettling vibe on certain tunes gets this a positive score.

 Grosses Wasser by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.83 | 28 ratings

Grosses Wasser
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A minimalistic and somewhat brittle release from 1979. Like most 'Cluster' it's simplistic, almost entirely electronic and sounds uncannily like 'Neu!' at many points. However it saddens me to say that I rarely listen to 'Grosses Wasser'. The Muppet vocals on 'Prothese' are quite engaging, especially as they're sung in German.

By most accounts 'Manchmal' is the most respected track on the album, but to me it just sounds like a Nursery Rhyme from baby school.

I guess comparisons could be made with 'Asmus Tietchens' early recordings, but this doesn't have the 'Psycho Killer Clown' approach that he offered. The cover sleeve is also very 'Tietchens'. I could be cruel and say that they spent as much time and effort on the sleeve as they did in the music, but that wouldn't be very nice would it?

A lot of the sounds are very dated, particularly the electronic string segments. The liner notes tell me that this was recorded using a super-duper highly expensive synthesizer. Surely I've stuck the wrong album on?

It's all very telling then, that their first two recordings from '71 and '72 sound far more relevant and timeless than 'Grosses Wasser', despite being recorded seven years later

Nothing new is introduced in the Cluster canon and the Peter Baumann (of Tangerine Dream) production sounds all too obvious on the first half of the recording.

Things improve a bit on the 18 minute title track with tom-tom drums and percussion taking centre stage for a large slab of the duration. Strange little fragments of electronica pitter patter throughout before an acoustic piano sees out the conclusion in a sort of limp manner.

This is Cluster on autopilot.

 Cluster by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.94 | 80 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Although they are often lumped into the world of Krautrock, CLUSTER really belongs in the world of progressive experimental electronic music. At least the first few albums that i have heard because there is really no elements of rock on board here and this is more in line with the Berlin School world of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream than with the Krautrock world of Can and Amon Düül II that emphasizes the rock. However, the term "Krautrock" is a nebulous one and connotes a sense of otherworldliness and trippiness above all else so nomenclature aside this is one of the MOST surreal and psychedelic releases i have ever heard. Even beginning with the second album "Cluster II," this duo begins to tone things down a bit on the surreal scale and concentrates more on the melodic rather than the abstract, but on this debut release, officially an eponymous title which has been given the nickname CLUSTER 71, there is unrestrained abstractness that seemingly takes you to the far reaches of the universe and back. This is also the only album i can recall that has three sprawling tracks where the titles of the tracks are the same as their time durations: 7:42, 15:43, 21:32.

This duo actually began under the moniker Kluster which included Conrad Schnitzler as the third member. The group was short-lived releasing only 2 studio albums and 1 live in 1970-71. Schnitzler would go on to have a prolific solo career but was also involved in all of the following: Berlin Express, Con-Hertz, Eruption, Feedback, Conrad Schnitzler & Bjørn Hatterud, CS & Wolf Sequenza and even Tangerine Dream. That left the duo of Moebius (also in Cosmic Couriers, Harmonia, Liliental, Moebius & Plank, Space Explosion, Project Undark) and Hans-Joachim Roeelius (also in Aquarello, A.R.S.(e), Harmonia, Human Being, Lunz and the continuation of this group Qluster). This debut album also includes a third member Konrad Plank on electronics, effects and also as a producer. He would go on many projects including Can, Eno, Eurythmics, Neu! and even the Scorpions and more.

This is very strange abstract music. Personally i feel like i've entered the quantum world when i listen to this. I feel like a little stray electron that has been displaced from its parent atom and am traveling through into the extreme microscopic in a place where space and time have totally different properties. In a way, what comes to mind is that i feel like i am a tiny particle bombarded through the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland and my experience is meeting my fellow inhabitants of the quantum world and the musical equivalent of their frequencies and universal vibrations. While there is a basic drone ambience that is in play for most of this sonic experience, the different sounds that accompany this make me feel like i'm saying "hey there" lepton, "wassup z boson?" and "how's it goin', quark?" While listening to this it makes you wonder how in the world did they achieve these sounds in 1971.

This was a clear evolution from the proto-industrial sounds of Kluster. These sounds were not created on keyboards. They utilized the sounds of organs, Hawaiian guitar, cello and used audio generators as well played by Moebius and Roedelius and then the final ingredient was Conrad Plank electronic manipulation to tweak and distort the sounds to create the bizarre sonic worlds that they achieved. Truly light years ahead of the competition in the trippiness department. CLUSTER was taking music freaks into strange new worlds that could never have been foreseen a mere ten years earlier before even The Beatles made a dent into the musical world displaying just how far music had evolved in an ever so short period of history. Blows my mind. I personally find this to be my favorite CLUSTER album. This is uncompromising in every way.

 Zuckerzeit by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.55 | 72 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Zuckerzeit' is the album where, all of a sudden, 'Cluster' became more tuneful and less industrial. It's a refreshing album - even today - where you'll find many artists trying to replicate this simple electronic sound. Back in '74 however, there's no mistaking the analogue technology at play, which I think is a wonderful thing.

Released around the same time as 'Kraftwerk's ' 'Autobahn' this stands up as being every bit as good if not better due to the undiluted electronic manner in which it's constructed. You won't find any flutes here folks. What you will discover is a fairly dominant 'rhythm box' which by serendipity fits perfectly with the electronic keyboards utilised throughout. It may remind listeners of Eno's early recordings - in particular 'Another Green World' which appears to use the same keyboards.

There's a degree of elegance in which Roedulius and Moebius construct this recording where they clearly don't give a hoot as to how it will be received. It's all very 'of the moment' and despite being far more tuneful than all previous releases, maintains a current of slight underlying threat. I'm sure Bowie took a lot of this on board his drug addled mind before fleeing to Berlin in '76 where he pulled together two of his best works.

The fact that the tunes are all quite short may lead you to the conclusion that this is, in fact , proto-synthpop. And you'd be right... There's no doubt that the form and structure of this album influenced many artists. The 4-4 western drum beat that 'Neu!' continually performed is -used frequently here too but without an actual drum kit, instead going for an all out electronic approach. This is a smashing little record who's name - 'Zuckerzeit' - fits perfectly after the apocalyptic first two recordings from '71 and '72 - which I have to admit to having a deeper affiliation to.

 Zuckerzeit by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.55 | 72 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When Moebius and Roedelius decided to call the third Cluster album Zuckerzeit - German for "sugar time" - many might have thought that was an unusual decision given the chilly, spacey textures that electronics-heavy Krautrock of the era (such as Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Temple or Klaus Schulze) was associated with. But actually, here Cluster do an excellent job of investing a little heart into proceedings, producing instrumental compositions which manage to touch on a wide variety of emotions over their running time. Think sugar as in "cute and playful" rather than sugar as in "porno soundtrack" and you're in the right general area for most of the tracks.
 Sowiesoso by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.22 | 42 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars More placid and calm than previous Cluster releases, Sowiesoso feels a bit like a middle ground between the experimental hypnotic drone pulses of earlier Cluster and the somewhat more immediately accessible work of Autobahn-era Kraftwerk. One of those electronic Krautrock albums which very easily fades into being background music, it's a pleasant enough experience but not what I'd call an enduring highlight of the scene, or of Cluster's particular discography. (Perhaps they were spreading their efforts out too much with the concurrent work on Cluster & Eno, though they'd pull things together in time for the excellent After the Heat). Three and a half stars, I guess.
 Cluster by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.94 | 80 ratings

Cluster Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first album from the newly abbreviated Cluster (after parting ways with Conrad Schnitzler) probably disturbed a lot of sensitive minds at the dawn of the 1970s, and it can still threaten your sanity when heard today. Softening their name from the more Teutonic KLUSTER didn't immediately change the music, if in fact this dystopian noise can even be classified as music, a debatable point even now.

The remaining duo of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius were known at the time for generating sounds instead of playing music, but what a sound it was. Harsh, atonal, abstract, mechanical, and more than a little scary: like the better German bands of that era providing the perfect sonic escape hatch from an unsavory national past. But the results were far removed from the interstellar meditations of other Krautrockers, even kindred cybernetic rebels like the embryonic TANGERINE DREAM, fellow travelers at the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin and related to Cluster through the common denominator of Conny Schnitzler.

Moebius and Roedelius weren't interested in exploring the cosmos; they were too busy dissecting their brave new electronic world from inside the machine, looking out. Even within the freewheeling musical landscape of the German counterculture this was pretty extreme stuff, shattering every convention of melody and rhythm, and daring the listener to pick up the pieces. Just when you imagine there might be a hint of some harmonic stability to grab hold of, the floor shifts again and that illusory safety net is pulled away, leaving you in exhilarating freefall once again.

My advice is to forget about the soft landing and simply go with the flow. It's not as if you have much of a choice: you won't even find a convenient parachute in the album name or track titles, which merely catalogue when it was recorded and the length of each segment.

One silver lining is that the album still sounds remarkably contemporary. Unlike other early experiments in electronic music this one hasn't aged a day in over forty years, partly because it avoids the easy clichés of the time: endless sequencer arpeggios and so forth. Later Cluster albums would follow a more user-friendly approach, but in 1971 their avant- garde edge was sharp enough to draw blood.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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