Cluster Sowiesoso

In many ways, 1976's Sowiesoso stands as the last truly great Cluster album. Picking back up on the more melodic and tranquil kosmische sounds of its 1974 predecessor, Zuckerzeit, Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius effectively expanded on their increasingly harmonious, and in Sowiesoso's case, pastoral direction. In fact, Sowiesoso may stand as one of the first electronic albums that succeeded in combining warm, organic, natural sounds with the seemingly cold, artificial elements of electronic music, a dilemma future generations would repeatedly struggle with. It seemed Cluster wanted to abandon their peers' desire to make "future music," and traded bustling metropolises and speeding autobahns for a new private sanctuary, which in this case was a home studio in the idyllic German forests of Forst. The result was a minimalist, bare-bones album that's in no hurry to get anywhere fast, leisurely delivering beat-less electro-acoustic mantras like "Zum Wohl" and "In Ewigkeit," a stunning closer that would go on to serve as a template for countless early Air tracks. Yes, the record works its way into you slowly, but Sowiesoso proves it's more than worthy of this reissue. (Bureau B)