Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Kluster - 1970-1971 (this comp. rel. 2008)

Before there was Cluster, the legendary home-base of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, there was Kluster - a trio completed by the great Conrad Schnitzler.  Formed in 1969 around the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin, everything Kluster released in their short lifespan is in this one handy package, and remains some of the most heady, extreme material in the entire krautrock canon.

Unlike the genre's other Year Zero masterworks like Phallus Dei and Monster Movie, or even the Schnitlzer-infused Electronic Meditation, the Kluster sound owed nothing at all to rock music.  Instead, their legacy is these six supermassive black-holes of the freest free improvisation, bearing closer similarities to what AMM were doing on the other side of the English Channel, and also an utterly uncanny prefiguring of the early industrial music of the mid 70s.

In the studio (or rather, in the church where they found themselves recording), Kluster were faced with a bizarre, but very much of the time, compromise: that they allowed the usually religiously-inclined record label to overdub recitations of a couple of lengthy religious texts.  Schnitzler once said that you'll get more enjoyment from both of the vocal pieces if you can't understand the preposterous texts, in which case the stentorian female voice (on the first album Klopfzeichen) and male voice (on the second, Zwei Osterei) are intersting enough soundwise, if a little intrusive at times.

The voice-free second sides are more interesting overall, with plenty of screeching flute, scraping cello shards of guitar/piano to the fore.  The effects-laden sound can also be more clearly heard pointing the way to the first Cluster album sans Schnitzler.  Before he set off on his own however, there was the final Kluster recording.  Taped live, Eruption is an echo/delay masterpiece, stretching out for longer and unencumbered by previous compromises.  The sound is more lo-fi, but if anything this pushes it even closer to the live sound of Throbbing Gristle circa 1976.

Disc 1 (Klopfzeichen)
Disc 2 (Zwei-Osterei)
Disc 3 (Eruption)

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