Some bands sell their souls to the devil, Kluster sold theirs to the church. This is probably another of those albums best enjoyed by those of us who speak little German. You see, Kluster were only able to get this and their previous record released by using a Christian label, the deal being that one side would have a religious voiceover.
It must have been a pretty liberal church, though, because those Kluster boys are banging away at the limits of sound in the background on ‘Electric Music and Text’. The authoritative voice sitting right on top of the mix with the strange, atonal electronics in the background.
Cluster fans coming here to check out the early works of Moebius and Roedelius may be a little underwhelmed at first but fans of Conrad Schnitzler will find themselves in the right place right away.
They work up an isolated cacophony of what sounds like a dieing robot flute player, a lunatic sawing at a cello and humming electrics. When it fades down to ghostly echoes and the voice returns, he has an air of told you so about him. Perhaps the band had been asked to literally raise Hell?
Then comes a wave of deep echoes that foreshadow ‘Cluster II’ but with the Schnitzler abrasiveness. However, the voice returns and by now he is really starting to sound hacked off about something. Perhaps he is cross about people who spoil great avant garde records with their pompous prattle?
Over on the second side, you get “Kluster 4” which features some of the most depraved, insane, devilish flute playing ever. It sounds like they’re on flute, guitar and percussion and abusing all three mightily. The guitar sounds like it’s being wrestled with by a gorilla on ketamine, the “percussion” is someone chucking about blocks of wood and then adding so much reverb and effects that makes it sound like a robot throwing up its own innards. It is, of course, bloody great fun.
The track then descends into ghostly echoes and tappings, like a seance gone wrong. There are foreshadowings of the abstract industrial sound of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” soundtrack, especially towards the climax of almost mechanical dissonance.
Its hard to imagine people ever doing acid to this album and coming out unscathed. This is what sets Conrad Schnitzler’s discography apart from most of what we call “krautrock”. This is not mellow ambient music or trippy electronics. This is brave, fearless experimentalism. Not to say that this is difficult, joyless music – I get a lot out of it – but just to make clear that listening to Cluster or the second half of ‘Tago Mago’ in no way prepares you for this. This is the hard stuff.