Review Summary: creepy ambient music
Krautrock is a very broad genre of music that can essentially be split up into two different sections. There’s the sludgy, greasy, riff propelled groups such as Amon Duul and Can while bands such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze relied on synth laden, repetitive sounds. Collaborating with artists such as Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, Cluster obviously fall under the more amtospheric/ambient side of the genre and although they have received virtually no acclaim they are equally as important as bands such as Can or Tangerine Dream.
Just listening to the first few moments of the albums opening number, “Plas” you can tell that this album is going to be trip. The song starts off with a low pitched, motorized kind of sound that is built around with haunting keyboard swirls and warped guitar effects. Cluster II
was recorded in 1970 yet “Plas”has such a futuristic atmosphere, it sounds as if it was recorded underwater. At first Cluster II
can be difficult because the music is purely based off repetitive drone collages and alien keyboard soundscapes yet after repeated listens the listener will realize how trance-inducing this music really is.
Another interesting aspect about this German duo is how they incorporate guitars into their music and are still able to pull off such a muted, insane sound. “Im Suden” is propelled by a skeletal guitar riff that eventually evolves into sublime interplay between Dieter Moebius’s repeated guitar riff and Hans-Joachim Roedelius’s deep, haunting keyboard surges. Lasting up to twelve minutes in length “Im Suden” is a perfect blend of ghastly electronics and repetitive guitar riffing.
Although many ambient groups add a couple of cheesy synths over one another and repeat this process for every song they write Cluster come up with many unique and truly bizarre sounds while still maintaining an ambient sound. “Georgel” makes the listener feel like he is trapped inside of a submarine 300 miles below the ocean; these keyboard drones are so haunting when accompanied by crunching guitar chords that it’s nearly impossible to not be hypnotized. “Live in der Fabrik” is a fourteen minute epic driven by countless droning sounds. The music changes so subtly and quickly that it’s hard to keep up with the spacey keyboard sparkles and muted guitar reverb without getting lost along the way.
has been released for nearly 40 years and it sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday. Unfortunately this duo never made it big even in the limited realm of krautrock enthusiasts. Keep in mind Cluster II
can be a challenging listen since all of these songs are built off of repetitive, frightful keyboard drones. With that said anybody with an interest in electronically produced music should give this album a listen as it a hypnotically satisfying record released countless years ahead of its time.