Dusted Reviews

Cluster and Eno - Cluster and Eno

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Cluster and Eno

Album: Cluster and Eno

Label: Water

Review date: Sep. 22, 2005

Brian Eno’s seminal experimentations as a composer and producer in the mid-to-late 1970s were marked by a sense of tension and release between the poles of edgy urban hipness and calm, bucolic beauty. (He was to bring both into some kind of balance on projects like David Bowie’s Low and his own Before and After Science.) So it was no surprise that he would hook up with adventurous German synth pastoralists Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius-- Cluster-- and join in their mostly gentle experiments with the human/machine interface, at Conny Plank’s legendary studio in Germany.

Cluster and Eno, from 1977, was the first collaboration between Eno and the duo. The jacket photos set up the record’s intent nicely: a microphone aimed at a blue sky scrimmed with clouds; a shot of the musicians: Eno looking urbane in stylish jacket, Moebius and Roedelius, unshorn and unshaven, garbed like farmers just in from the fields.

The basic Cluster modus operandi seemed to be one of building complex and evocative sounds on analog synthesizers, then creating interlocking parts that allowed the sounds to bloom and take motion, thus making for auditory landscape art that could drift and flow while remaining rooted in repeating patterns and the tactile quality of combined timbre and envelope. Acoustic instruments--piano in particular-- enriched the palette of tonal colors. It was a perfect space for Eno to delve more deeply into the sort of foggy sound-event pieces that he had woven into his 1975 masterpiece Another Green World. And Cluster helped bring a warmth to Eno’s instrumental explorations that had mostly been missing up to that point: a tint of lush, humanistic romanticism to color the sine waves and the humming of electronic circuits. (“Fur Luise”, for example, with its lovely and ambiguous triadic harmonic motion and rich tonal luster, could pass as an early sketch for the shimmering and shadowy Eno collaborations with Daniel Lanois that would follow a year or two later.)

This record is much more than an Eno album, however. Check out “One”, with its tamboura drone, chattering kalimbas, eerie synth growls and moans, and mysterious scraping noises: it’s a rich world of sound that offers some kind of narrative, albeit a narrative that might change with each listening. On “Die Bunge,” a fantasy night-forest of conversing synthi-beasts and shadows eventually coalesces into a strange transistorized reggae beat-box- and- bass groove. These are the sort of sonic adventures that Cluster often brought to life.

Overall, the music on Cluster and Eno seems to reflect perceptions of-- and connections with-- nature: water and sky; landscape and countryside. Most importantly, this somewhat unassuming record offers a warm look back into a brave new era, when analog sythesizers and human pop musicians got together to explore the manifold and fecund possibilities of their interactions.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

Read More

View all articles by Kevin Macneil Brown

Find out more about Water

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.