Goodness knows I’ve been aware of Hans-Joachim Roedelius since around 1981, the time I became aware of 1977’s “Cluster + Eno” album. I noted Roedelius’ name and filed it away for future reference. When I chanced upon some of his recordings last year in Bureau B pressings at the Harvest Records Anniversary sale, I felt the time was ripe to buy any and all of them. I fully enjoyed each and every title that I bought. In fact, I grew despondent that I hadn’t made the effort to see Roedelius when he was in town in 2011 at the Grey Eagle and Moogfest over the course of a month! He was certainly an artist that I should have made the effort to see on principle. Looking back, I think it was a financial issue that stayed my hand.
#26 • Qluster: Lauschen GER CD 
Well, it finally happened. I listened to a Bureau B release that didn’t move me. Which is shocking, since every Roedelius album I’ve bought thus far has been quite enjoyable. But this album has vexed me. The disc seems to have been recorded live as possibly an improvisation at the CTM • Zodiak Festival in Berlin in February 2, 2012. Roedelius and Onnen Bock, who normally form Qluster, were joined here by Armin Metz on synths. But the nature of the improv meant that the performance is an organic whole that spends its first third of its running time, failing to coalesce music out of the burbling, seemingly random chirps and sibilances that sound for all the world like noises made by transformers and relays in a room full of machines left on by themselves while the tape was running.
The fact that little of this crosses the db threshold of background noise unless you play it really loud, doesn’t help. In fact, turning it up loud, only makes it sound irritating. It sounds to these ears like this was a “you had to be there” experience where the environmental vibe at the live event would have much sway in one’s enjoyment of the results. “Urania” sounds like the scuttling of rats along a drainpipe as industrial machines hum in the background. By the time of “Erato” is begins to converge into something more musical, my mood had soured and not even the appearance of rhythms could improve my mood. By the time that the music peaked on “Melpomene” it was a case of “too little, too late” for me.
This album had failed the “An Index Of Metals” test. That composition, a 28 minute long album side to Fripp + Eno’s “Evening Star” has long been my standard of mettle testing. Resembling a three minute ambient piece time-stretched almost by a factor of ten, the progression of what we call “music” takes place at so subtle a pace, that listening to any 60 seconds of the track, sounds like white noise. And yet, after years of experience, I have made my peace with “An Index Of Metals.” I can now play “Evening Star” all of the way through on a regular basis. As I near the age of 50, there might be room for only one such event in my musical life, so I’ll have to let this one go to more receptive ears. The album is called “Lauschen” [“listen”] but I just can’t.
– 30 –