Monday, 6 June 2016

Cluster - Curiosum (1981)

We've had the endpoint of Cluster's discography on these pages; now here's the midpoint.  Ten years in to their working partnership, Moebius & Roedelius would take a break for most of the 80s,  but not before recording this, the most minimal album of their career and one of the most singular and fascinating.

The polar opposite of the lush romanticism of Sowiesoso, where Roedelius appeared to be in the driving seat, Curiosum is very much Moebius' album in the Cluster canon.  Possibly the most accessible track, Oh Odessa is up first, with a catchy zigzag melody repeating over a backing that only changes slightly as it progresses.  From here in, there's the chugging, steam-powered electronic rhythms that first made an appearance on Cluster's breakthrough album, Zuckerzeit, given an ultra-minimal, airless update.  Tristan In Der Bar is particularly reminiscent of that earlier record to my ears, if you can imagine both musicians upgrading to portable, battery-powered synths only to discover when they hit record in the studio that they've only got a couple of minutes' battery life left.

Roedelius the master of wistful melody isn't entirely supressed on Curiosum: Helle Melange has it in spades, albeit still sounding - like much of the album - like it's been recorded either on an echo-absorbent squash court, or at the bottom of a swimming pool.  On Charlic we get a classic Roedelius waltz, if it was being distantly heard over a cement mixer.  What I'm basically trying to say is that even for such a unique duo, this album remains an aptly-named oddity in their canon.  Don't miss it!

Curiosum

4 comments:

  1. really enjoyed their 'Qua' lp which you posted back in april; don't know how I let it pass me by originally, quite brilliant! so really looking forward to this 1981 album. thanks!

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  2. It's interesting how flat & (to my ears) uninspired this album sounds in comparison to Roedelius's solo effort "Wenn der Südwind Weht" from the same year. They obviously needed a break from each other around this time, for whatever reason. I agree with cloth that "Qua" was brilliant, so they obviously ironed things out eventually. Thanks for posting.

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    1. you know what, that's exactly how I felt about Curiosum for ages; it was a real slow grower and even now there's occasions when I put it on and it can leave me cold. both of these guys were definitely energised by taking a break for most of the 80s - I always hear Moebius' Tonspuren and Roedelius' Offene Turen as more souped-up versions of what they were reaching towards on Curiosum. will definitely post more 80s stuff by both of them in due course!

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  3. Excellent Cluster opus. Thanks a lot.

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