Qluster | Elemente
Bureau B (LP+CD/CD)
Out just today is the latest from the most recent iteration of the “-luster continuum” (ranging back to the early 70s), as in early incarnations such as Kluster, then Cluster (you may recall their collab with Brian Eno) and since 2011 it’s been Qluster. Gone are legendary sonic craftsmen Conny Plank (1940-1987), Dieter Moebius (1944-2015), Conrad Schnitzler (1937-2011) and other collaborators. Making up this evolved trio are mainstay Hans-Joachim Roedelius, still going strong at eighty-four, as well as the newest generation of Onnen Bock and Armin Metz, both men half his age. Here Elemente is made up of eight new improvised tracks, all on analog-based instruments: Farfisa, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, effects, sequencers and other rhythm machines.
Their distinctive sound encompasses all the years put in, and as such comes off timelessly but contemporary, like a mystical ambient channeling of over four decades. Perpetuum is a prime example, as you usher into this world modern electronics have this gentle caress harkening to the dawn of prog rock electronica. It’s an empowered pulsing rhythm that makes this their best effort yet, even though I was partial to both Echtzeit and Antworten, this record seems to be a far more seasoned sound, one that is as buoyant as it is possibly reductive. Though they use elongated drones as the base for the variable and intricate collage here, there are still moments when you can detect the players hand in the elegant sonic mix.
BREATHLESS PRECISION: More energetic than meditative, tracks like Zeno and Xymelan are infused with stops and starts and dramatic effects that are always conscious of their overall lustre. Yes, as I listen I realize how seductive the fibrous chords are, and how they manage to occupy this space that has a curved presence. It may finally reveal the true meaning of ‘totally tubular’. The sound bounces and echoes ever so slightly, leaving you feeling as though you have just been tickles head to toe – that ‘pins + needles’ sensation.
There are straight-ahead flowy ambient pieces like Weite and the wiggly Symbia, but it is Tatum that nabs my attention. Though it borrows from the past, it’s more in the light of retrospective than in obfuscation. It does this by adding a few bpms and filtering out the heaviness of the past, and in doing so they develop an exquisite hybrid. I’d love to hear this track reinterpreted by remixers, though it may be un-scalable. If the new Hyperloops of the world had a soundtrack as you shoot through an air pressured tunnel, this should be it. Not since Expo 2000 have I heard something so futuristic and tight. It will transport you. And at about six minutes in it becomes quiet with only minimal synths flailing in the background as if you are at some sort of midpoint stoppage. Slowly it winds back up and fuses into a watery morphing jam, all at low range.
Lindlow opens with wavering minimalism, like smoke rings floating into nothingness. As the track opens there are small, ornate melodies that begin to bloom. And finally a pensive brightness emits on Infinitum, the closer here. At first a sleepy and moderately somber affair that breaks out into a cascade of glistening tonalities. If you imagine gliding on thin air you might just believe it for these seven well laid minutes. And however hokey that may sound, anyone whose been in an airplane above the clouds, or high atop a mountain peak and looked down knows what exactly I’m talking about. This is a complete stunner – take the trip!