Over the past few years, Hamburg’s Bureau B label has released an astonishing treasure trove of music. Reissues of long out of print kraut classics, including much of the enormous back catalogue of the Cluster family, now sit alongside brand new work by many of the people from the German scene, old and new, including recent releases from Faust and Kreidler. The label now returns to the Cluster camp for us to catch up with just what Moebius and Roedelius have been up to since they last disbanded the duo a couple of years back.Well, it seems the answer to that is, they’ve been forming more duos. For Stunden, Hans-Joachim Roedelius gets together with To Rococo Rot’s Stefan Schneider to record a series of miniatures. Roedelius’ calm melodic piano figures are enveloped in Schneider’s inventive electronic textures, ebbing and flowing around them. Some pieces feature rhythmic underpinning and string instruments while others drift gently, each contrasting with the previous piece. Given the common DNA, Stunden seems a clear descendent of Cluster’s groundbreaking Zuckerzeit.
Roedelius also teams up again with Onnen Bock as Qluster to bring us a live album, Rufen following on from last year’s Fragen. Using only old analogue synthesisers like the Korg MS20, Ensoniq TS10 and Roland Jupiter 4, the duo create a serene floating pool of sound that steers well clear of ambient new age indolence. At times ethereal, at others gratingly dissonant, constantly pulsing and changing, but never merely pleasantly decorative, these four lengthy sections are full of sonic invention.impossible to tell who is responsible for what as amorphous electronic textures drift in and out of each other’s orbit, sometimes coalescing, sometimes clashing, but always engaging. Each of the thirteen tracks is unique, yet all seem to be constructed entirely out slightly unfamiliar sounds, a testament to both men’s unique skills in sound design.
Bureau B seem to be determined to leave us in no doubt that when it comes to cutting edge electronica, there’s still nobody to beat the old guys from Germany. Anyone seriously interested in the genre needs to pick up this trio of releases. I for one can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
To Rococo Rot