Cluster – Sowiesoso (Water)

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Long unavailable, this krautrock classic has recently been reissued by San Francisco label Water. I originally bought this album as a vinyl LP back in the 1980s. I loved it then and I still love it now – the beautiful combination of lush cinematic melodies and pastoral electronica remains unmatched.

Kluster was originally a trio formed in 1969, consisting of German musicians Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler. They released two LPs of free improvisation and electronics, before Schnitzler left (for a solo career of prodigious activity) and Kluster became Cluster.

Sowiesoso was Cluster’s fourth album, originally released in 1976. By this time, Cluster’s improvisations were being channelled into coherent musical structures with recognisable rhythms and melodies. The title track rides in on a burbling bass synth rhythm – insistent organ chords are joined by sweeping synth lines, subtle electronic bleeps and whirrs fade in and out, and an arpeggiating electric guitar joins in before the final fade. ‘Halwa’ features a weird Middle Eastern melody. The low-key sounds of ‘Dem Wanderer’ are mixed with synthesised bird chirrups. ‘Umleitung’ begins with an octaving bass line, over which ricochets a jagged piano motif – which culminates in absurd biscuit-box percussion and our heroes yelling drunkenly in the background like two inebriated Bavarian goatherds – which is an apt comparison, given the bucolic imagery of the album cover.

This is beautiful, life-enhancing music. Get it now, before it goes out of print for another twenty years.

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