MEMOS FROM A MUSIC FIEND

BY ALEJANDRO MAGAÑA

Cluster II, 1972

Cluster: II

1972

I went to great pains when I was younger to somehow convey the sensitivities that addled my precocious mind. I was asthmatic and prone to headaches and still have a fear of heights, and between that and some of my physical shortcomings I was never gonna be a sports star like some of my friends or even become a badass skater. When I hung out with friends at skate sessions I was more likely to have my nose in a novel or volume of poetry or be writing angsty shit in a lined composition notebook. But I was not anti-social, nor was I seen or regarded as some awkward sociopath; on the contrary, I had, and still have, plenty of friends and a great family, and now a very cool wife and kid who love me. I always tell folks, a little charisma or charm goes a long way. I am not alone.

The thing is, I’ve discovered over time that as much as I love people, as much as I have good folks around me and a fine support system, and as much as I’ve had confidence to face things in front of people, or had to communicate to a variety of people, I’m an introvert. I’m ok alone. I recharge alone.

So here I am, still woozy, but better than yesterday, lightheaded when I stand for too long, hopefully on the outer edge of a bout with vertigo, and I’m thinking of sounds analogous to where my head is. Enter Cluster’s second record, a continuation of the duo of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius’ electronic experiments with analog synthesizers, audio generators, and processed guitar and keyboard. The sounds are indeed ‘spacey’ or evocative of space in a very real physical way, the musical unfurling of atmosphere and the firmament of stars. (When trying to ‘google’ this record the first content that was offered was a wikipedia of ‘Cluster’ spacecraft, “a constellation of four European Space Agency spacecraft which were launched on the maiden flight of the Ariane 5 rocket, (in 1966) flight 501, and subsequently lost when that rocket failed to achieve orbit.”)

This record set itself apart from earlier offerings by the group, and other early electronic albums, because of the shortness of some tracks, a couple run just around the three-minute mark, and the fact that every track is titled, rather than, say, just one uninterrupted side-long wank fest titled ‘Composition  pt.1’ or some shit. The aural space that develops in these tracks, though made by a duo, are spaces of solitude. A welcome solitude to these ears. Sure, like a lot of experimental music they seem to interrogate the idea of what music is, but they also seem to find comfort in the amorphousness of their sound, the subtle life that pulses in this space. As such, they are a precursor to ambient music because it’s easy to get lost in this space. I’ve taken dramamine, and even though the label says, “less drowsy,” I feel as though when I shut my eyes I’ll be launched to space forever. I think I’m ready for the journey. Momentarily, of course. I hope I come back recharged.

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