Qluster – Fragen

Qluster - Fragen

It’s hard to think of many musicians with a 40+ year career sustaining inspirational creativity whilst retaining much of their original modus operandi, but Hans-Joachim Roedelius is certainly one of those gifted few. A genuine grandee amongst Germany’s pioneering and close-knit experimental musical community since the late-‘60s, the septuagenarian has earned his well-respected status several times over with groups such as Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia as well as through collaborations with the likes of Brian Eno and Kraftwerk/Neu! veteran Michael Rother. Returning now with a new outfit that partners him with tricenarian Onnen Beck – after long-term Cluster comrade Dieter Moebius opted for musical separation in 2010 – this debut as Qluster finds Roedelius in exemplary and age-defying artistic good health.

One of a supposed trilogy, Fragen is a seven-part suite of atmospheric yet far from translucent analogue synthesiser mediations blessed with warmth, gravitas, intelligence and intuition. Although reportedly improvised and strictly constructed with pre-digital methodology, the record doesn’t totally lack sculptured structure or possess overly-cynical retro ticks. Instead, this is a long-player of enduring resonance that could have been made at any time within the last four decades and should still command attention during the next four and beyond.

Opener “Los Geht’s” sets the scene mesmerically from the start, with balmy pulses meshing with a steady organ-like motif whilst electronic fizz washes over the combined surface. Further in, the ensuing “Auf der Alm” glides from chirruping ghosts in the machines to near-symphonic uplift; the more minimalistic “Zartbitter” and the lengthy but engrossing “Wurzelwelt” re-conceive the imagined-future sounds found along the long corridors of deep space vessels in ‘70s sci-fi films. Towards the collection’s close a slightly less spartan essence seeps into the wires, giving us the deserted carnival eeriness of “Fuenf nach eins,” the pastorally-shaded “Haste Toene” and the well-measured ripples of discordance that stir gently through “Josef Z.”

Perversely though, track-by-track analysis seems to shift on each spin, suggesting that Fragen has a fluid personality that is best for total immersion on numerous occasions in a variety moods, which only adds to its transferable yet uncompromised artistic value. In an era of tumult and haste, this is a soothing oasis of noble calm. Bring on the next two…

Bureau B