The most important and consistently underrated space-rock unit of the '70s, Cluster (originally Kluster) was formed by Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Conrad Schnitzler as an improv group that used everything from synthesizers to alarm clocks and kitchen utensils in their performances. Continuing on as a duo, Moebius and Roedelius eventually recorded many landmark LPs - separately, as a duo, and with all manner of guest artists from Brian Eno to Conny Plank to Neu!'s Michael Rother - in the field of German space music, often termed kosmische. Cluster also continued to explore ambient music into the '90s, long after their contemporaries had drifted into tamer new age music or ceased recording altogether.
Zuckerzeit (Sugar Time) is a well titled release; after the stark and (at times) testing Cluster II, this is an altogether sweeter affair. The music here is much denser, with more colour and a much greater degree of poppiness, all lending the album a pleasingly light and upbeat feel. One very obvious difference to Cluster II is the extensive use of drum machines, meaning that where tracks had previously consisted of layers of synthesizer noise, they now have a definite rhythm, seeming to free the melodic side of the band. Actually, Zuckerzeit is an album put together by two separate artists operating under a collective title, with Moebius and Roedelius each contributing five tracks and while this kind of behaviour rarely produces a unified outcome, here the album holds together nicely. Although Cluster are less well known than the likes of Kraftwerk, this material deserves to be considered as being as influential and important in the development of electronic music. This is powerful and creative music and for anyone looking to venture into the less Rock side of Krautrock, or into groundbreaking electronic music, it s a very fine place to start.