The first Cluster album: three raw and electrifying kosmische soundscapes.
If an album is recorded and hardly a soul hears it at the time, how does it make history? By being prophetic. Three majestic tracks of extreme guitar harmonics and soundscaping, Cluster 71 second guesses post-punk, hip hop and electronica by two decades.
No synthesisers were used - just organs, cello, violin, slide guitar, alarm clocks fed through effects pedals and echo machines, and sound generators normally used by electricians. Yet thanks to the 'third silent member of Cluster", producer Conny Plank, the sound is raw, stark yet beautifully clear and well-organised.
This is the primal noise of the universe - heating, cooling and mutating - a circular flow of energy beyond human understanding. Yet it isn't all cold: with repeat listens you will find a Samuel Beckett-like wit illuminates the darkness as Moebius and Roedelius engage each other playfully. As one sets up a spectral drone or cluster of repeated pulse, the other slips in, as NME's Felix Jay puts it, "their fondness for odd, rather casual interruptions to the flow, an endearing love of the unpredictable."
There's something of musique concrete's timbral strangeness, of free jazz's free-form wildness, of the circular motion of Indian ragas and the amplifier overload of the Velvet Underground. Yet there's a sense not of composed music but of found sound guiding the musicians.
And the supreme achievement of Moebius, Roedelius and Plank is this: to be content with allowing each sound event to evolve and mutate of it's own accord. And now and then to exercise only a precarious control over the result - the way a child primes a spinning top to gyrate wildly, then stands back amazed.
Cluster is unmistakaby of a particular time and period - the late 1960s and early 1970s West Berlin underground scene - but it is this sense of awe at the visceral poetic charge of unlocked sound that makes it a timeless classic.
Source: Stephen Iliffe