Cluster - '71 LP
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2022 repress. 140-gram LP. Cluster's self-titled debut was originally released by Philips in 1971; this edition is the first reissue to restore the track running order of the original Philips release. Includes liner notes by electronic avant-garde pioneer Asmus Tietchens. In 1998, The Wire listed Cluster's self-titled debut as one of "100 Records That Set The World On Fire (When No One Was Listening)." Very few albums from Germany can lay claim to this honor. Cluster is a monster; it contains a mere three untitled tracks and was quite an ordeal for untrained ears when it was released. Yet the album pointed the way forward like no other electronic opus. Cluster's previous incarnation was a trio called Kluster. A change in direction and musical differences moved Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius to split from the group's third member, Conrad Schnitzler, in 1970. The following year, in addition to playing live, they recorded their first album in publisher Ralf Arnie's Star Musik Studio in Hamburg. Here they first met Conny Plank, who would himself become a legend. They remained close friends until Plank's death in 1987. Early Cluster music was new. New in the sense that it did not continue any tradition, instead laying the foundations for a future tradition. The duo's utter renunciation of conventional harmony and rhythm, embrace of near total aural abstraction, and confident use of noise, rigorous live electronic improvisation, and a positive mindset were all factors in Cluster's innovative trailblazing of 1971. For want of a better category, Cluster was classified rather inappropriately and incorrectly as "cosmic." Few recognized Cluster for what it was -- a synthesis of pop music, stripped of embarrassing glamor, and so-called serious music without intellectual constraints. Moebius and Roedelius took the liberty of raiding both disciplines to perfect their musical concept. A common enough practice today, but akin to a palace revolution in 1971. So it is that three pieces of electronic music meander and pulsate through Cluster, with no beginning and no end. Cluster's music is free and open in all directions. There are sounds, noises, and structures to be heard on this album that would become ingrained in the electronic pop music of the 1980s and 1990s. Cluster had taken the first step into the future.