50th anniversary edition reissue, originally released 1972. Cluster can be counted among the most important international protagonists of the electronic avant-garde. Some credit them with having invented ambient music, others as pioneers of synthesizer pop, whilst to some they are firmly embedded in the krautrock universe. There is some truth in all of these notions. Cluster (or Kluster as they were in the beginning) were founded in 1970 in Berlin by Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Dieter Moebius. A change in direction and musical differences moved Moebius and Roedelius to split from Schnitzler after which the duo recorded ten regular studio albums between 1971 and 2009. Their debut album (Cluster 71) was in Wire Magazine’s “One Hundred Records That Set The World On Fire” list. Follow up, Cluster II, has now reached its 50th anniversary and to celebrate Bureau B are releasing a limited anniversary edition, vinyl only in a gatefold sleeve.
“Cluster II was born in two big cities. Back in 1972 Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius still lived in Berlin, where they were part of the city’s swirling underground scene, situated somewhere in the middle of artistic happenings, musical outrageousness and drug abuse: an urban mixture that perceptibly influenced Cluster II, but the album was recorded in Hamburg; one track a live performance at Hamburg’s concert hall ‘Fabrik’ . . . It goes without saying that they could not do completely without electricity, but they mostly manipulated their keyboards and other electric devices in an improvised way, as if rolling their sleeves up for some real manual work. This way Cluster never saw their role reduced to pushing buttons and pressing switches. It is obvious that Roedelius and Moebius were not late in discovering the tape loop as a method of creating repetitive patterns. They also incorporated an analog rhythm machine into Cluster II, even though it did not yet play an essential part on the album but what they firmly relied on was not their equipment, but rather their intuition and the option to decide at any point what was supposed to happen in the next few moments. The fact that they were always ready to run the risk of musical failure is something that cannot be respected highly enough. So, Cluster proceeded in a different way not only from a musical point of view, but also displayed a completely new attitude. Moebius and Roedelius never submitted to their machines but let their personalities as heart and soul musicians be heard at all times to create ‘electronic music with a human face’. Conrad Plank, the ingenious sonic magician, who regularly hosted Cluster, Harmonia and others in his studio, displayed so much enthusiasm and inspiration in helping put these new ideas into practice. Bravely and without fear, Cluster had ventured out on a journey without knowing where it would lead them, stepping into fascinating, virgin territory…” –Asmus Tietchens