CLUSTER: Qua (Klangbad)


Posted on Mar 3rd 2010 01:04 am

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Cluster: Qua

Klangbad 2010
17 Tracks. 54mins40secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD iTunes: DLD

Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius need no introduction, so strong and defining has the pair’s mark been on the Krautrock and Kosmische scene, either as Cluster, Harmonia or through their respective solo projects and collaborations. While their core body of work dates back to the seventies, with a string of seminal albums, including recordings with Brian Eno, they have regularly recorded and toured as Cluster through the eighties and nineties, and continued to experiment with electronic sounds to this day.

Originally published in the US last year, and finally seeing a European release, Qua is the first Cluster album of entirely new material since One Hour, back in 1995, and appears to coincide with a resurgence of interest in the Krautrock/Kosmische scene of the seventies, which has been marked by a number of TV documentaries, books and articles on both movements, notably a comprehensive Primer in the Wire at the end of last year. While Qua is indubitably stamped with Kosmische tones and flavours, this is in no way a nostalgic record, or worse, a re-enactment of the band’s classic sound. Cluster have influenced countless bands and artists over the decades, and here they here acknowledge these and in turn feed from their work to give their sound a much more contemporary feel.

Unlike its predecessor, which consisted of just one track build from live studio recordings, Qua is partitioned into seventeen sequences, some lasting barely a minute, others expanding over four to five minutes, all exploring a variety of electronic textures and rhythmic patterns, arranged in hypnotic pieces (So Ney, Zircusile, Malturi Sa) or dense dreamy soundscapes (Flutful, Protrea, Gissander, Stenthin, Formalt), bringing the pair’s sonic explorations of the seventies up to date by injecting a hefty dose of digital undertones and clean line production techniques. In fact, while this album is in no way as innovative as Cluster 71, Cluster II or Zuckerzeit, the subtle modernisation of the Cluster template, perhaps aided by the success of bands such as To Rococo Rot or Tarwater, who have intensely fed on Kosmische and mixed it with contemporary electronica, gives this album more than a passing relevance to today’s musical landscape. This is particularly perceptible in the fluid combination of atmospheric techno and dubbey glitches of Na Ernel or the vast sonic plains of Flutful or Gissander, but it also infuses the ambient surroundings of So Ney, Ymstrob or Formalt.

Like Kraftwerk, Cluster were once at the forefront of innovative electronic music, and their legacy has been felt in the electronic scene for the last twenty years. Nowadays, their followers have caught up with them, but, forty years on, Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius still have in them the vision that has driven them over the years. Qua is a record that takes stock of the past while being firmly set in the present, and should be celebrated for bringing the two so perfectly in sync.


Cluster (MySpace) | Klangbad
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD iTunes: DLD

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