Boomkat Product Review:
The spangled kosmische majesty of Moebius, Roedelius and Plank’s visionary 2nd studio album returns to orbit on a 50 year reissue set to upend fresh cosmonauts and remind the beards of its legendary greatness.
Cluster’s ‘II’ was their second album after Conrad Schnitzler’s departure and altering their name’s spelling from Kluster to its next incarnation, some years before Eno would chime in. Its legendary kosmiche yawn depicts the core duo of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius elevated by the input of producer/engineer Conny Plank, who was effectively the band’s 3rd member at the time, crucial in rendering their plonging, spuming analogue synth gestures to the heavens with his revered studio-as-instrument tekkerz paralleling developments elsewhere by the likes of Lee Perry at the Black Ark, Teo Macero with Miles Davis, or Phil Spector in California. It’s in that sort of esteemed company which ‘II’ should be considered as a seminal advancement of sound as material to be enhanced vis the prism of new technology, away from the strictures of academia, and more loosely linked to the paths of rock music that came before it.
Cluster’s scope for sculpted atonality and open-ended rhythm comes into gauzy focus with the glorious opener ‘Plas’ and contracts and dilates between durational and more contained modes of synth expressionism. ‘Im Süden’ awns over 12 minutes of sky-reaching electric guitar and arching bass topology into pitch-bent wonders of the swirling arabesque ‘Für die Katz’’, and ‘Live in der Fabrik’ swims down the wires into 14 minutes of 3rd eye-gyring intergalactic lushness. Alien chorales croon like sirens on a forbidden planet in ‘Georgel’ and the cranky turbulence of ‘Nabitte’ pushes toward their strangest echo of blues rock with dissociated voices and hammered keys likely to send acid-fried or hash-tacked nerves into a tangle.
You can only imagine how oddly wonderful it must have sounded on its initial release, ‘cos it still sounds inimitably freakish and heady half a century later, clearly paving the way for everyone from 0PN and Emeralds to Caterina Barbieri in the modern day.