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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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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)

3.94 | 65 ratings
Cluster
1971
3.91 | 71 ratings
II
1972
3.51 | 54 ratings
Zuckerzeit
1974
3.17 | 31 ratings
Sowiesoso
1976
3.34 | 39 ratings
Cluster & Eno
1977
2.78 | 21 ratings
Grosses Wasser
1979
3.01 | 13 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)

2.95 | 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
 Curiosum by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.01 | 13 ratings

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Curiosum
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 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
2.78 | 21 ratings

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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 | 65 ratings

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Cluster
Cluster Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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
3.51 | 54 ratings

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Zuckerzeit
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
3.51 | 54 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.
 Sowiesoso by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.17 | 31 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.
 Cluster by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.94 | 65 ratings

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Cluster
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.

 Cluster by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.94 | 65 ratings

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Cluster
Cluster Krautrock

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

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.

 II by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.91 | 71 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.

 Cluster by CLUSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.94 | 65 ratings

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Cluster
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.

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

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