cluster Qua (LP, £19.95)label: Bureau B
The last studio album by the legendary krautronic duo (Dieter Moebius/Hans-Joachim Roedelius), recorded 2009 in Ohio by Tim Story. Seventeen miniature worlds, some icy, some warm, all infused with that Cluster elusiveness and unpredictability. Playful, dark, funny, human, Qua captures that deceptive Cluster heartbeat - unmistakably modern but utterly timeless. Excerpt from the liner notes by the producer: "My role, as I imagined it, was to emulate Conny Plank, the great Cluster producer and a hero I'd never had a chance to meet. An impossible burden of course, so I simply tried to make the recording process as invisible as possible, offer as many interesting sonic options as I could, and give Cluster the chance to be Cluster - to express that deep and unique dialogue that only Moebi and Achim fully understand. Moebi had brought along some of his wonderfully quirky loops, but the rest was simply an embrace of the technology and toys that they found in the studio. Old drum machines, a gaudy orange Farfisa (solos on which Achim would always seem to center around the one temperamentally unreliable note), cutting edge keyboards and processors, a cheap Yamaha Omnichord. The results were, to my ears at least, stunning. Seventeen miniature worlds, some icy, some warm, all infused with that Cluster elusiveness and unpredictability. Playful, dark, funny, human, Qua captures that deceptive Cluster heartbeat - unmistakably modern but utterly timeless. Adorned later with Moebi's slyly nonsensical titles (Putoil for example, which features a "solo" made from Moebi's recording of our squeaky bathroom door), and his cheerfully Dada cover, Qua's evolution was a true privilege to witness. Achim told me recently that he considers Qua the perfect swansong for Cluster. At the time, though, the ambum's freshness and open-ended creativity seemed like simply another alluring dispatch from a conversation that would pick up again many more times, as it had for four decades. But Moebi's passing in 2015 gives Qua a finality that contradicts the music's transitory, slippery otherworldliness. The album's closing track Imtrerion, with Moebi's deeply stirring loop embellished ever so gracefully with Achim's spare accompaniment, never fails to choke me up."
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