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cluster - Grosses Wasser
Recorded in 1978, Grosses Wasser was the fifth album by kosmische musik pioneers Cluster (their seventh if you include the two Eno collaborations). At this stage in the band's lifespan Cluster was a duo, manned by Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius, although Tangerine Dream's Peter Baumann acts as co-producer, helping craft some of the group's most experimental material since they swapped their 'K' for a 'C' in the early seventies. Nowhere is this air of sonic exploration more apparent than in the midst of the album's title track, occupying the entirety of the album's second side. 'Grosses Wasser' begins unassumingly enough with a sparse configuration of keyed chords, plotted out via Paragon Studio's Steinway grand piano. These floating intervals are soon joined by electronic modulations and oscillator swoops, eventually conspiring to take over the piece altogether, laying out vistas of abstract analogue sound before a tape manipulated beat rattles into earshot, accompanied by a melody played out via bell chimes and abrupt synth leads. The piece feels palindromic in structure, closing with another run of multi-layered oscillations which in turn gives way to a piano coda. This time the piano part appears to have been resolved - no more hanging, half-formed melodies but rather a fully elucidated passage completed with electric bass, acoustic guitar and chirruping, cicada-like percussion. The A-side tracks on the album take on a more accessible and rhythmic quality, documenting Moebius and Roedelius' first dalliances with sequencer technology, though an organic, live-instrument heart is still very much at the core of their music. Grosses Wasser remains a classic within the genre it helped define, and is worth checking out if you have even the most fleeting of interests in Krautrock, or synthesizer music in general.