Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cluster - Qua (2009)

Man, I was gutted by the death of Dieter Moebius last summer - maybe even more than Bowie's passing in January of this year.  Having loved Cluster, Harmonia and everything in between for so many years, I'd been wondering if there would ever be another Cluster album after Qua in 2009.  Sadly, this album now stands as the final bookend to Moebius' forty-year on-off collaboration with Hans-Joachim Roedelius - but it's a good one; a more than acceptable signoff for a truly unique duo.

The most surprising thing about Qua when it came out was the wealth of material it looked like we were getting - 17 tracks, from a band who'd previously averaged something like six or seven per album.  Largely composed of minatures that hang loosely together like a sketchbook - "a multicoloured picture book" in Asmus Tietchens' sleevenote - the beauty of Qua is in the small details.  The missing beat in the rhythm track of No Ernel, resulting in an odd-legged time signature (can't remember enough of my music theory exams to know what it is), or the recording of a squeaky door in the perfectly named Putoil.

The longest track here is the six-minute Gissander, built around melancholic bell chimes, but my absolute favourite is Ymstrob - just a minute and a half of plaintive synth burble and fragments of brass.  And yes, there's mild amusement value in the fact that the full tracklisting of Qua reads like an Autechre album - but we're miles away from any forbidding metallic glitchscapes here, just little drops of sheer gorgeousness.

Alternate cover


  1. Love Cluster, Kluster, Roedelius, Moebius & especially the work of the great Conrad Schnitzler. German electronic music encompasses so much more than just Kraftwerk & Tangerine Dream. Thanks very much.

    1. more of all of those to come in due course!