Release Date: Apr 15, 2016
Record label: Bureau B
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Ambient, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Experimental Electronic, Kraut Rock
Try to imagine yourself back in time about 45 years. It’s not easy to do in our post-everything digital age, but I’ll provide a few signposts to help you along the way. In 1971, “word processing” had just been proclaimed a buzz phrase. In one year’s time, clerical word processing units would have monitors attached for the first time.
By 1979, Roedelius had begun to release solo material, and Moebius would follow in the coming years. Produced by former Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann, Grosses Wasser is one of Cluster's most eclectic albums yet, ranging from pretty keyboard miniatures like "Manchmal" to the epic side-long title track, which contains some of the duo's headiest explorations since their debut. Cluster ended their initial run with 1981's Curiosum, probably the most "quirky" album in their catalog.
When the German rock renaissance began in earnest in the mid-'90s, it was the result of multiple factors. Can's catalog was reissued on CD; they gained verbally outspoken fans like Sonic Youth, Tortoise, and Stereolab; and Julian Cope’s Krautrocksampler: One Head's Guide to the Great Kosmische Musik provided a crucial roadmap for casual listeners. For the most part, the revival foregrounded the era’s headiest rock bands and no doubt appealed to classic rock fans looking for new thrills: Can, Neu!, Amon Düül I and II, Faust and the like.
We are living in Cluster's world now. Some short while ago I found myself in a basement bar, surrounded by movers and takers, while an earnest fellow wrestled with vintage circuitry for our evening's entertainment. He conjured pops and scrapes which coalesced and rubbed up against each other in cellular proliferation, giddy with excitement at their combustible gathering, before bursting in gleeful splatters into the greasily smeared drone which formed the backdrop for this musical piece.
The influence of krautrock Can be easily traced to plenty of active recording artists to this day. Most coldwave synth acts are indebted to Kraftwerk, a lot of spiky driving percussive music owes its propulsion to Neu!, the majority of post rock can normally be traced back to Can, and the legacy of Tangerine Dream and Faust lives within any modern day psychedelic wig-outs. But Cluster are a much more esoteric proposition.