Essential New Music: Cluster’s “1971-1981”


Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, two German dudes—Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius—spurred an artistic movement that’s commanded a long-reaching effect on contemporary (née electronic) soundcraft. Collectively known as Cluster, Messrs. Moebius and Roedelius generated a proto-ambient, early avant-garde electronica of Germanic persuasion that was both groundbreaking and influential. This archival nine-disc boxed set focuses on their first—and most vital—decade. At the center of their quiet storm, the two men were aided and abetted by the likes of visionary engineer Conny Plank, oblique sonic strategist Brian Eno, krautrock-ist luminaries Peter Bauman and Michael Rother, as well as an analog drum machine. Including essential ’70s albums like Zuckerzeit, Sowiesoso and two classic Eno collaborations, this killer collection shows Cluster refining its minimalist, electro-acoustic, programmed, studio-pop improvisations in urban and rural environs. There’s even a bonus disc of cool live performances from the era.

—Mitch Myers