Cluster Curiosum

By the dawn of the '80s, Cluster had hit more than a few high watermarks in their long and storied career. Along with laying the foundation for the "kosmische" sound, the legendary duo of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius had already recorded a string of Krautrock classics, made a handful of albums with Brian Eno and helped inspire a whole generation to trade their guitars for synthesizers. Unfortunately, when Sky Records originally released Cluster's sixth proper studio album, Curiosum, it became clear the band's best days as a duo were behind them. No longer indulging in the primal, 20-minute-plus synth exercises of their early '70s work, Moebius and Roedelius's cosmic exercises now came in more concise packages. However, in the case of Curiosum, those lacked the graceful melodies and hypnotic analog drum patterns that made albums like 1974's Zuckerzeit and 1976's Sowiesoso so essential. This isn't to say the wheezing, wobbling, almost childlike Curiosum isn't without its charms; it's just that this scattered collection of songs fails to reach the unbelievably high bar Cluster set only a few years earlier. And perhaps Moebius and Roedelius knew this, as Cluster began a nine-year hiatus shortly after Curiosum's release. (Bureau B)