sex as a foreign language

awkward aural adventures

Throwback : Cluster & Chromehoof

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Entering Rich Mix to see German electro-psychsters Cluster is an adventure in itself. The event is held on the fourth floor so we are ushered into lifts and emerge into a darkened, throbbing room that ebbs and flows with pulsing electro and scattershot blastbeats. This is Throwback and tonight we are in for a treat. The unique series of gigs is designed to show the original grandmasters live and then their sonic offspring by bringing together those from the cutting edge of a scene and those charged with starting it. Which is how we end up hidden on the fourth floor of Rich Mix looking forward to a rare live set from seminal German minimalists Cluster and the arch avant London orchestra Chrome Hoof.  Let’s get it on.

The trouble with minimalist, ambient or instrumental music is that it’s very hit and miss in the live arena – the nature of the beast means your experience is dictated by who you are standing next to. So when watching Cluster there are three movements to my experience…appreciative solemnity and utter absorbtion, wasted frat kids weekend plans and constant texting, and irrationally hot but looking an awful lot like fratboy might have slipped her some rohypnol, can’t stop touching everyone girl. Naturally only one of these benefits the music, the others causing vast concern and apoplectic rage.  But I digress…

For those of you wondering Cluster are German duo Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius who have been making music together since 1971. Oft placed at the forefront of the Krautrock movement, Julian Cope has three of their albums in his top 50 all time krautrock albums, though they would choose to distance themselves from such limited tagging.

Tonight they take to the stage slowly, with little fanfare, feeling their way into the venue, flurries of white noise, and understated keys from Roedelius fill the air as the band begin to construct their set. In the backdrop plays a video of a mountain top abode, the wind rustling branches of surrounding trees.

About 15 minutes in as the bleak, avant symphony begins to build a figure emerges from the building, walking aimlessly around the grounds, in and out of shot. It works well as a backdrop for the music filling the halls. Seemingly dissonant actions combining to form a greater purpose. If there’s a criticism it’s that they take a long time to build the set. It’s fully 30 minutes before they really begin to flex their muscles and by then they have lost the likes of fratboy.

Without doubt though the highlight of the evening is when the two grandmasters are joined by London based avant orchestra Chrome Hoof for a 15 minute jam. It’s like a brick to the face. A beat sodden, vibrating brick, that forces you to move whether you like it or not. Visually Chrome Hoof are a medieval feast, clad in silver hooded robes like a glam Sunn O))). It’s a devastating 15minutes. The older statesmen seemingly invigorated by the association and produce their best music of the night.

Then it’s back into the lift, squashed against the mirror and stuffed under some tall mans armpit…said tall man turning out to be Tall Klaxon TM. The consensus? Cluster were a bit average, but Cluster and Chromehoof was a sensational, glorious… well… clusterfuck!


Written by Jonathan

April 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

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