cluster & joshi farnbauer Live In Vienna 1980 (CD, £14.75)label: Bureau B
Originally released on cassette in 1980. The first live recording by Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, recorded 1980 in Vienna. The only collaboration with the Austrian musician Joshi Farnbauer who played drums and percussion – and a sonic throwback to their early years. First time on vinyl! Presented with two separate stacks of Cluster recordings – one comprised of their studio work, the other of live performances – an innocent listener might conclude they are the efforts of two completely different artists. This would understandably have been the case in 1980, when the structured, tuneful miniatures of 1979’s Grosses Wasser and 1981’s Curiosum were unlikely bookends to the sprawling electroacoustic abstractions of Live in Vienna. But as fans of the idiosyncratic duo already knew, Cluster’s trajectory was always a restless one – more about disruption than gentle evolution. As Live in Vienna’s sound engineer Eric Spitzer-Marlyn remembers, Cluster’s 1980 performance at the Wiener Festwochen Alternativ would have been called a “happening” in prior years. Growing out of the Actionism movement of the 60’s, the festival was more performance art than music concert. Disdaining the tired, commodified art of the establishment, it was a sound marked by brash, improvised, avant garde techniques. Eric also remembers it was LOUD. For those who had grown up with Cluster’s accessible 70’s work with Eno and Plank, and their collaboration with Michael Rother in Harmonia, Live in Vienna’s slow-growing swaths of electronics and noise must have represented a bit of a shock. But it was really more a throwback to Cluster’s earliest years, when they performed dense electronic ‘jams’ with Conrad Schnitzler as Kluster. The addition in Vienna of Joshi Farnbauer, a friend and fellow artist who played percussion and explored the sound possibilities of his own sculptures, also mirrored the fluid and spontaneous configurations that characterised those times. As chance would have it, they never met up with Joshi again.
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