CLUSTER & ENO Cluster & Eno (Water)

The cover sums up this 1977 collaboration between Professor Eno and German duo Cluster perfectly: it’s a photograph of a microphone set up on a stand outdoors, recording the sound of the gathering dusk.

“Cluster & Eno” isn’t staggeringly different from the contemporaneous work Eno was assembling under his own name; in fact, Cluster appear on the same year’s “Before And After Science”. There are arguably two key differences: where the Eno of “Another Green World” would’ve clipped the wings of these instrumentals after a minute or two, here they’re 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 you’d 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 “Wehrmut”’s reverberant piano notes are very reminiscent of Bowie’s 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

Brian Eno

Roxy Music