Monday, February 15, 2010


So this is actually the 1980 reissue of Cluster's first album. My defence for owning this particular beast? The sleeve of the original is massively shit. It looks like bad robot art. I mean not to say this is much better but it does have a certain DIY aesthetic that is an improvement on the first press. I picked this up in the US when I was going what I call 'Ebay crazy'. It was around the time that the GBP and the US Dollar were going two for one and despite being paid in US Dollars I talked myself into believing that everything everywhere in the US was in fact half price.

As a concequence I worked through a hefty wants list and ticked off pretty much everything on it during the three month period that my wife was still living back in England. To this day that tax Dutch tax rebate I was squandering went on 'Unforseen relocating costs' and not a mint copy of Amon Duul's 'Disasters' and the like. I shall now try and tear myself away from reminiscing about my years of financial idiocy long enough to say a few words about Cluster's first outing...

There wasn't a lot of this kind of business about in 1971 and with good reason. The world was still quite rightly dominated by rock dinosaurs, stadium bands and proto-glam. The singer song writer reigned supreme. So imagine then that you release an album without a.) any actual singing and b.) any discernable song writing. Yeah, that's not really going to pay the bills now is it?

Cluster '71 is not a bad album by a long chalk but it does make you ask where ambient krautrock ends and bottles full of carbonated water being shook up and opened in time to car alarms going off in the distance begin? Is that a hedge strimmer? Not to say it doesn't work, it has a lot in common with Throbbing Gristle's 'Heathen Earth', in fact it's almost like its much quieter older sister.

In places this record barely whispers and were my copy anything less than shiney and new looking it would be little more than a soundtrack to a log-fire crumpet toasting.

Example: Side 1 actually finished about three minutes ago but I thought the dull thud and click of the run-off groove was part of the final track.

And now to ask that thousand dollar question, do I need it? No, absolutely not. Chances of me listening to it again before the dawn of the next dacade? Very slim. But equally, chances of me getting rid of it? Absolute zero. Not seen another on of these in ages. And that my friend makes me a very complex kind of wanker indeed. Am I keeping it for bragging rights? It's not even a first issue. Do I truly believe it is a magical window to another world? It's unlikely. Why then? Why not just put it in that trade pile? Well, because it's nice isn't it.

There you have it folks. Cluster 71. Uneventful but nice. You're right, doesn't exactly scream 'Go out and buy me!' does it?

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