Cluster & Family – Reissues

January 01, 1970

(Bureau B)




Cluster: Curiosum (10 stars)

Moebius-Plank-Neumeier: Zero Set (8)

Roedelius: Wenn Der Südwind Weht (9)

Moebius: Tonspuren (8)


Much ado is made about the ‘70s output of German electronic
music pioneers Cluster. And as it should, given the wealth of adventure and
innovation Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius presented to avant-garde
music fans over the course of that entire decade, both on their own and in
collaboration with the likes of Brian Eno and Can’s Holger Cuzkay as well as
Michael Rother from Neu! as part of the Krautrock supergroup Harmonia.


However, as the excellent Bureau B label continues to
deliver the goods with their reissue series of the Cluster family’s Sky Records
catalog, it should be well noted that the dynamic duo’s ‘80s output is well
worth one’s attention, too. 1981’s Curiosum was Roedelius and Moebius’s final team release before an eight year hiatus kept
the Cluster brand name on the shelf for most of the decade. However, while the
cover art might suggest some kind of a trendy new wave turn, the seven
compositions featured on this record actually hark back to the more
experimental style of the group’s earliest work as Kluster, cumulating in some
of the most out-there material in their collective canon.


Following their temporary split, both Roedelius and Moebius
managed to keep mighty busy as solo artists as well. Released the same year as Curiosum, Roedelius’ seventh album under
his own guise, Wenn Der Südwind Weht (translated When The South Wind Is
), finds him relishing in mellow, icy arrangements for piano and
electric organ augmented by the occasional computer manipulated blip and
processed tape hiss, creating a gorgeous tapestry that interweaves electronic
sound and classical composition.


Meanwhile, Moebius highlighted the early ‘80s with his very
first pair of ventures as a solo artist. Both his 1983 debut, Tonspuren, as well as Zero Set, his collaborative LP with Guru
Guru drummer Mani Neumeier and longtime Cluster producer Conny Plank also
released that same year, found Moebius exploring darker, more rhythmic patterns
and denser electric sounds more in line with industrial than ambient. It has
been further speculated that Zero Set,
with its My Life in the Bush of Ghosts-esque
hybrid of Krautrock and African-inspired polyrhythms, even serves as a
precursor to German techno.


While many of their contemporaries veered off course during
the 1980s, venturing into the realms of New Age and bad club music, this
quartet of titles proves that the members of Cluster, both as a unit and as
separate entities, remained true to their inhibitions of exploring new terrain
and expanding the boundaries of their own unique vision of pop music.


“Proantipro”, “Tristan In Der Bar”, “Ufer”; Zero Set – “Load”, “Pitch Control”,
“Recall”; Wenn Der Südwind Weht
“Mein Freund Farouk”, “Freudentanz”, “Saumpfad”; Tonspuren – “Rattenwiesel”, “B 36”, “Sinister” RON HART


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