CLUSTER & ENO Cluster & Eno (Water)
The cover sums up this 1977 collaboration between Professor Eno and German duo Cluster perfectly: its a photograph of a microphone set up on a stand outdoors, recording the sound of the gathering dusk.
Cluster & Eno isnt staggeringly different from the contemporaneous work Eno was assembling under his own name; in fact, Cluster appear on the same years Before And After Science. There are arguably two key differences: where the Eno of Another Green World wouldve clipped the wings of these instrumentals after a minute or two, here theyre allowed to loop and ripple a while longer. Keeping the hands from the faders imbues the material with a little more architectural substance, something that Eno was attempting to pare away from his own music at the time. These Cluster collaborations seem more anchored; not necessarily better or worse, just different. They also enjoy a broader sonic palette than youd find on any one Eno album, switching from tribal tango (Selange) to synthetic bird calls (Die Bunge) to Eastern sitar drones and percussion that sounds like pebbles being lobbed in a pool (One) in the space of a few tracks.
Schöne Hände shimmers, glistens and flickers, the fuzzy warbles of Steinsame are strongly evocative of Popol Vuh, and Wehrmuts reverberant piano notes are very reminiscent of Bowies Berlin years (the second side of Heroes, specifically). Für Luise ends this brief album softly, as in a morning sunrise.
Being a Water reissue, Cluster & Eno is immaculately presented. There are no extra tracks, but new booklet notes are included, and the booklet itself is a deliciously tactile, glossy item.
Harold Budd/Brian Eno