Cluster was an experimental, operatic, spacerock ensemble consisting of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. Their eponymous album, recently re-mastered and re-pressed as Cluster 71, is a trip through the minds of bold explorers.
Originally released in 1971, Cluster was way ahead of its time. In ’71 the world of rock was slowly moving towards the fringes of its genre, but Cluster was speeding past mainstream acts headed in that direction. Led Zeppelin, legends in their own right, released the famous Led Zeppelin IV album that year, as well as The Who releasing Who’s Next to great applause.
While that was going on under the spotlight, Cluster produced a piece of art that quietly demonstrated what music had the potential to be. Ominous, foreboding and ethereal, the album just under an hour conjures feelings of what it must be like to explore an asteroid belt. Noisy, bumpy, with ups and downs and turn arounds, this is a process which is simultaneously thrilling and dreadful.
There are no lyrics throughout the course of the experience, only the haunting sounds of the instruments that Roedelius and Moebius produce. There is a lot of production that goes on behind the scenes, with sounds rarely coming through the system the same as they originally enter.
While not the perfect soundtrack to your Friday night party, Cluster 71 is enjoyable if you can give it the attention it demands. As mainstream genres begin to reduce into their basic forms and components, it is often necessary to widen the scope of what experience can bring to the table. If music can be something as simple as a feeling or a behavior, than there is no limit to the albums and collections we can coalesce.
While there lacks a beat throughout most of the album, there remains over arching themes and concepts that keep the listener on track. It is a slow moving, methodical experience that cannot and will not be rushed for the sake of three minute song lengths or the impatience of the ignorant.
This being my (unfortunately) first experience with Kluster/Cluster, I look forward to digging deeper into their discography and listening to what they have to say. In today’s time where post-rock, industrial and cloud rap style production is commonplace if not underground chic, Cluster is a reminder that we all stand on the shoulders of giants.