Cluster & Eno has been credited by some as inventing the ambient genre. While that claim is debatable, one thing is certain: This is one of the finest ambient records ever.
Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius had been recording together as Cluster since 1968, and counted Brian Eno among their fans. After recording “Heroes” with David Bowie in Berlin, Eno paid a visit to Cluster’s studio in Forst, Germany.
Over the course of three weeks, Cluster and Eno were joined by Asmus Tietchens and Holger Czukay of Can to record 19 tracks. Nine of these were selected for Cluster & Eno, which was released in 1977 by Sky Records. The remaining ten came out the following year as an album titled After The Fire.
It is obvious that great care was taken in programming the original LP. It opens with some incandescent piano work on “Ho Renomo,” and flows steadily through a variety of ever increasing tempos. “Steinsame” is an early highlight, containing some amazing guitar textures.
The tempo increases a bit towards the end of the record with tracks such as “Selange,” and “Die Bunge.” These tracks lead up to the amazing “One,” definitely the ringer here. Adding sitar, tabla, and tamboura to the lush keyboard bed of sound could have been a major mistake. But it works beyond all expectation. “One” is an incredible piece of music.
The final track, "Für Luise" is a requiem of sorts for this journey, and features a lovely piano meditation.
There is a reason Cluster & Eno is so highly regarded by fans of ambient music. It would be a good 15 years before bands such as The Heavenly Music Corporation and Pelican Daughters would expand on these concepts for the chill out rooms.
Those bands created some great music to be sure. But for this reviewer, nobody has topped the original. Cluster & Eno is simply a fabulous record.