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CLUSTER

Krautrock • Germany


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Cluster biography
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 : : :

STUDIO ALBUMS:
1971 Cluster (aka Cluster 71)
1972 Cluster II
1974 Zuckerzeit
1976 Sowiesoso
1979 Grosses Wasser
1981 Curiosum
1990 Apropos Cluster
1994 One Hour
1996 Japan Live 1996
1997 First Encounter Tour 1996

COMPILATIONS:
1984 Stimmungen

Cluster official website

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Buy CLUSTER Music


Cluster 71Cluster 71
Bureau B 2010
Audio CD$10.83
$17.47 (used)
One HourOne Hour
Bureau B 2014
Vinyl$18.18
$33.11 (used)
One HourOne Hour
Bureau B 2014
Audio CD$12.59
$18.96 (used)
Apropos ClusterApropos Cluster
Bureau B 2014
Audio CD$13.60
$16.37 (used)
Cluster IICluster II
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$11.01
$13.21 (used)
Grosses WasserGrosses Wasser
Water 2009
Audio CD$17.40
$108.32 (used)
SowiesosoSowiesoso
Gyroscope 1996
Audio CD$34.99
$22.95 (used)
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CLUSTER discography


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

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

3.83 | 49 ratings
71
1971
3.92 | 56 ratings
II
1972
3.44 | 44 ratings
Zuckerzeit
1974
3.12 | 25 ratings
Sowiesoso
1976
3.32 | 35 ratings
Cluster & Eno
1977
3.18 | 15 ratings
Grosses Wasser
1979
3.04 | 10 ratings
Curiosum
1981
3.75 | 4 ratings
Apropos Cluster
1990
3.33 | 6 ratings
One Hour
1994
3.57 | 7 ratings
Qua
2009

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

2.36 | 6 ratings
First Encounter Tour 1996
1996
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live Japan 1996
1997
3.17 | 4 ratings
Berlin 07
2008

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

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

3.09 | 3 ratings
Stimmungen
1984

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

CLUSTER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Zuckerzeit by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.44 | 44 ratings

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Zuckerzeit
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch

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.

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 Zuckerzeit by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.44 | 44 ratings

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Zuckerzeit
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.

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 Sowiesoso by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.12 | 25 ratings

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Sowiesoso
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.

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 71 by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.83 | 49 ratings

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71
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.

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 71 by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.83 | 49 ratings

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71
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars Dark and almost atonal drones which were recorded a staggering 41 years ago by two members of the far noisier 'Kluster' - the band Conrad Schnitzler created.

There's a lot of pitch alteration, effects pedals, oscillators, ring modulators and tone generators used throughout which keeps things feeling fresh. Part one is quite layed back when compared with more the more mechanical and nightmarish sounding parts two and three. The whole album sounds like a Soviet nuclear plant with a serious internal problem that no one can repair.

These are proto industrial drones that, around ten years later were all the rage with bands such as Konstruktivists, Non, Coil and SPK. I guess this is where it all began... Hamburg, January 1971.

This would make an excellent alternative soundtrack on board the 'Nostromo' in the original 'Alien' film. It's that creepy! In fact at many points you could be forgiven if you thought you were listening to Tangerine Dream's 'Alpha Centauri' or 'Zeit'. Phillips must have had a nightmare of a time trying to market this, as there's no vocals, no chance of a single and not even tune titles.

It's just a pity that Moebius' cover artwork is so poor. It's not at all in keeping with the sound of the music. However, with well written liner notes, a decent re-mastering job, in which a lot of hiss has been removed, leaves this album with a very respectable 4 stars.

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 II by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.92 | 56 ratings

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II
Cluster Krautrock

Review by beebfader

4 stars REACTIVE (Esoteric) reissue 2012:

This, the second Cluster album, is like an extension of the equally essential first; both have now been reissued here by Esoteric's Reactive label. The mastering is superb, and it comes with a very attractive booklet with new interviews with both members. As they explain, the music here was all improvised in a couple of nightly sessions, Moebius and Roedelius weaving electronic textures together using primitive equipment and stone age effects devices, making ordinary instruments like the home organ sound positively other-worldy. Legendary producer Conny Plank is virtually the third member and it is likely that much of the all important shifting stereo placements are his work. "In the early '70's we didn't have access to synthesisers" says Moebius "we'd use whatever was around at the time". Necessity being the mother of invention, the duo put everything they could lay their hands on to good use.

The sum total is a throbbing, exciting sound world, free of melody and yet accessible, easy to listen to and yet a million miles from ambient music. It is truly a world of its own created through echo devices, oscillators, organs, guitar, wah-wah pedals all shifting around the stereo image constantly giving the impression of vast three dimensional sound shifts.

The individual titles are largely irrelevant (indeed on their debut they didn't bother with them, only durations), the six pieces add up 50 minutes of captivating, shifting sound which constantly reinvents itself and sounds like nothing else.

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 71 by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.83 | 49 ratings

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71
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Vibrationbaby

4 stars I've always wondered why this and a few subsequent Cluster albums have been referred to as Krautrock because there's no rock to be found here. This immaginative and sometimes horrifying sound exploration contains just about every electronic device known to mankind. The only two conventional instruments I could identify when I first heard the work back in the seventies was an over-driven wah wahed out guitar and an electric cello, besides that there was just a conflagration of freak knows what, audio generators, tape loops amplifier feedback and whatever Hans Joachim Roedelious and Dieter Moebius, two left-over members from a previous electronic experimental trio, could think of.

The largely improvised work ( don't look for any sheet music for this one ) doesn't rock swing or groove and is devoid any melody, harmony or rhythm and doesn't approach anything that is remotely musically redeemable and seems to drone on and on directionlessly. This is what Oscar Peterson's nightmares were made of, yet many critics managed to extrapolate depth and read deep meanings into it's extreme abstractness. It's easy to percieve this audio experiment as two guys going nuts in the studio creating a bunch of strange noises and impressions but this is not the case at all once one gives the three extended untitled sections a few listens. These guys were obviously musically literate at the time this frankenstein was recorded in 1971. I don't think that below par musicians could have created a work of this calibre bearing mind that they do use conventional instruments as a sort of foundation. Both play some sort of organ as well as the aforementioned guitar and cello. The work does have certain dynamic approach and each effect is introduced unexpectedly. Cluster would expand on this formula somewhat on their second album gradually streamlining their music thereafter.

An open mind is certainly required for this sonic masterpiece. It can mean anything or it can mean nothing depending on how the listener approaches it. So, put the cat out strap yourself into the ejection seat and crank this baby to eleven and blast off to another dimensional plane.

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 71 by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.83 | 49 ratings

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71
Cluster Krautrock

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

4 stars Some reviewers have mentioned their surprise that no synthesizers were used in the recording of 'Cluster 71' but what surprises me more is that such archaic devices as guitars and cellos were in fact employed, because conventional music graces us with its absence from the album. Be warned, its mysterious auditory explorations are about as far as you'll get from standard melody and rhythm while the lack of track titles further reinforces the disorientating nature of the music. This album is so impenetrable that it doesn't erect mere earthworks in its defence but throws up entire mountainsides.

The warped sounds and primal monotony of 'Cluster 71' are also the stuff of nightmarish space opera, so the next time you're alone late at night and obsessing about what music to listen to it might be best not to play this because it could just scare the sweet bejeebus out of you. It isn't so much a ready-roasted turkey flying into your mouth as a synthetic toxin for you to choke on.

The first track alone is like some industrial hell-world that's under the spell of Cocteau's kick, and where the mournful screaming of the Banshee echoes through the depths of timeless time to the rhythmical cla-clank of its metallic beating heart. And the remainder of this device- driven racket of an album sounds as if it's inhabited by other shapeless phantoms, all-seeing tyrants and abandoned interstellar hulks that all in all represent a very disturbing world of electronic expressionism.

'Cluster 71' is a work of pure menace and perhaps its major importance lies in its power to evoke such vivid mental images. I need to be in a certain frame of mind to listen to this album but it's possible with a little imagination to really lose myself in it without doping the jockey as well as the horse.

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 Cluster & Eno by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.32 | 35 ratings

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Cluster & Eno
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Eno sits in with Cluster to produce an album highly reminiscent of Krautrock albums from the early 1970s. There's the Eastern influences dabbled in extensively by Ash Ra Tempel and Popol Vuh, there's the improvisational freakout atmosphere, there's the heavy dependency on synthesisers and keyboards. All the Krautrock cliches are present and correct, but despite all that the album seems to be missing something; it sounds, to my ear, like three synth wizards trying hard to make atmospheric music but not quite working out beforehand what sort of atmosphere they are going for. It's a nicely performed album, but it feels kind of needless and directionless - as if it's trying and failing to justify its existence.

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 II by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.92 | 56 ratings

BUY
II
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Cluster's second album is firmly in the vein of spacey, droney, trancelike Krautrock of the era, but is set apart from its competitors by the excellent production work by Conrad Plank, who produced or co-produced all the group's albums - truly a man with a strong claim to be the third member of the band. The band place themselves at an extremely minimalistic and experimental end of the German cosmic rock spectrum, with all of the conventional structures and approaches to composing music being regarded as strictly optional, to be utilised only if the composition absolutely demands it. It's one of the more challenging Krautrock albums, but well worth a listen regardless.

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