Kluster had its origin in the famous Zodiac Arts club in Berlin that only existed for about nine months in 1969. Nevertheless this club was very fertile for the underground movement that would later be known as krautrock and Berlin School. Conrad Schnitzler was shortly a member of Tangerine Dream, together with Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze during the release of Electronic Meditation (1970, see review). After he left, Schnitzler formed Kluster together with Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius.
Since Conrad Schnitzler passed away on August 4th 2011, the German record company Bureau B has re-released some of his early albums under exclusive license from his widow Gisela Schnitzler. The Kluster album Eruption (1971) is sometimes listed as Schnitzler's first solo album Schwarz. The first two Kluster albums Klopfzeichen (1971) and Zwei Osterei (1971) were issued by Schwann Verlag, who had signed them for two records. They weren't so pleased with the result, so they didn't extend the contract. For releasing Eruption, the third album, they had no record deal and both Moebius and Roedelius didn't have the money or the will to pay, so Schnitzler ended up paying alone for pressing two-hundred LP's and issued it as a solo work. But in fact Eruption is a Kluster album and this reissue gives credit to Moebius and Roedelius for their musical contribution.
On stage Kluster were a trio, but in the studio the sound engineer was a full-time member. On the first two albums they worked with Conny Plank, who would also be participating on most of the later Cluster albums. However, for Eruption Plank was not available so Klaus Freudigmann replaced him. One of the ideas that might have come from Freudigmann was the use of overdubs. A significant portion of the recordings came from the last live show in Göttingen in 1971. Due to their extensive touring the trio were much more experienced in the use of their instruments and equipment as well as operating as a band. The main instruments they used were the cello, electric guitar and organ, heavily processed through electronic effects. At the time they didn't have yet access to synthesizers. The first two albums were rather chaotic and fragmented, but on Eruption they had learned to slowly build to a climax.
Eruption appeared to be the last album of Kluster. After the recordings Schnitzler left. Moebius and Roedelius continued as Cluster − with a C instead of a K. Schnitzler and Freudigmann continued for a while as a band called Eruption − not to be confused with the English disco group well-known for I Can't Stand The Rain − collaborating with other musicians and sometimes even inviting people from the audience to join in. Beside Freudigmann and Schnitzler, Eruption featured at some point Dieter Serfas (Embryo), Lutz Ulbrich (Agitation Free, Ashra Tempel), Michael Günther, Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream, Ashra Tempel), Manuel Göttsching (Ashra Tempel) and Hartmut Enke (Ashra Tempel). In 1972 Schnitzler went completely solo and would hardly perform live anymore.
Eruption isn't an easy album to listen to. The music is rather abstract and was of course limited by the technological possibilities at the time. But at the same time it's the result of three individuals collaborating and exploring the boundaries of music and technology. It's a step forward in their early careers and it's also a landmark in the early krautrock movement.
*** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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