Cluster – Cluster II (Esoteric Recordings)


Of all the Krautrock groups, nobody dismantled musical conventions quite as thoroughly as Cluster. Their music is defined more by the elements they didn’t use than what’s actually there. Duo Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius didn’t use rhythms, melodies, vocals, or riffs. Basically, they discarded anything listeners could call familiar and only concerned themselves with atmospheric tones and loops – the kind that would eventually be known as ambient music – made with crude electronic equipment. Their second album (titled II) contained six pieces of ambient soundwash culled down from longer improvisations recorded live in the studio with groundbreaking producer Conny Plank (Kraftwerk, Neu!, Harmonia…etc.) providing ideas from behind the board. Their ambient textures are true space-rock in that they actually sound like what you would imagine outer space sounds like: vast and formless, with an alien nature that sounds like it’s being beamed down to earth from some far away planet. Released all the way back in 1972, you could call Cluster II the first full album of ambient music, which makes it historically important. It’s easy to hear Cluster’s influence on subsequent explorations from Brian Eno, Spacemen 3, David Bowie, Kraftwerk and just about anyone else who ever abandoned rhythm for texture. If you love ambient music Cluster II should  be a cornerstone of your record collection, but listeners who like a little more action in their music (myself included) might not be too inclined to spend 46 minutes without rhythm and melodies.

Tracklisting:

  • “Plas” – 6:00
  • “Im Süden” – 12:50
  • “Für die Katz” – 3:00
  • “Live in der Fabrik” – 14:50
  • “Georgel” – 5:25
  • “Nabitte” – 2:40
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