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Kluster – Klopfzeichen/Zwei Osterei

Bureau B

Those good people over at Bureau B have been delving into the archives to bring us two classic slices of pre-Cluster goodness. Well before ‘71 and Zuckerzeit, these two albums, originally released in micro editions of 300 copies, demonstrate an avant-garde spirit that was and still is, a pleasure to absorb. Very much a ‘kicking k’ before the soothing ‘c’, these recordings still rival many of today’s newcomers with their pantheon of noise toys and effects pedals. A unique vision that’s not dissipated at all in over forty years.

The beautifully bleak innards of a piano start the first Kluster offering Klopfzeichen. That black cover fitting well with the repeating bony timbres… glassy obsidian and soft powdery concussions flung round them. A Germanic female voices over, her harsh syllables echoing through, riding a clatter of percussive irregularities. Not knowing much German is probably helping here, as by all accounts the spoken bits are apparently overtly religious (both these records were church-sponsored’ incredibly enough) and seen by many to blight the originality pouring through the speakers. To me, they seem to blend rather well with the triangular fallout of Schnitzler, Roedelius and Moebius, providing very little distraction from those sprays of arterial detune, especially when baked in plenty of reverb; Conny Plank no doubt smoothing the evangelistic edges.

I love the way there’s a whole heap of conventional instrumentation going down here, cello/cymbal/guitar/woodwind: but you seem to be listening to them with new ears. An abstract vocab of textural reflection, striving for its own syntax. Like Neubauten would do a decade later, these three were unlearning the past to great effect, re-inventing futures from anything that was to hand. Bow droned cloaks of apocalypse unfolding, leaking chaotically. That flute all high registering snake breath , machine fed and bounced about… chasm-crushed into alien guitar ethers and pick-up pop corns… anxiety – annex – arthaus . The second side beams out, unsullied by narration … an unease of gnostic moan and ziggurat serrations, ‘gimp like,’ aqua-lunged hiss to cheese wire plucks… amped megaliths with mirror-warped guitar… an historical document never sounded this alive, this hungry.

The second installment, Zwei Osterei looks a bit disco in its bright pink cover, adopts a male narrator – commanding, bombastic even; like the voice of God from some 50’s biblical epic, (but in German). It reminds me of the monochromed angels in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.

The soundtrack behind starts out in a fry up of metallic grasshoppers and dronic fayre… Ups the ante in an array of industrialised hypnosis. Conrad Schnitzler finding his feet in the repeats/abrasion… those percussive teeth and killer jabs of classical rethought, sawing though idealised assumption, spewing out the atonal goods – a cello choke of diving Stukas beckoning in the second side. Raw modulations leading to an incredible flute haze, a sickness of triple exposures, slipping into each other, whip licked in electro ziz. Those clanking metallic elements, a haunted laundry dryer intent on swallowing up the world, later replaced by pulsing chords and a noisy bouquet of gloriously twisted shapes and primitive connective tissue. Shrill feedback to distant horn calls… boxing mattresses… shifting metal… percussive punishments and guitar grotesques, collapsing into a dronal come down…I can just imagine the disarray they left that early 70s studio in…

An inspiration that will continue for a long time to come; highly recommended.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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