Old Land

Cluster & Eno

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Old Land Review

by David Ross Smith

An excellent compilation album, Old Land is comprised of tracks from Cluster and Eno's two major collaborations: Cluster and Eno (1977) and After the Heat (1978). All of Eno's vocal tracks are here: "The Belldog," "Tzima N'arki," and the dark, industrial "Broken Head." On "The Belldog," Eno's voice never sounded better, and the quirky "Tzima N'arki" brings to mind Lennon's experiments on "Tomorrow Never Knows" (Revolver). Eno's backward vocal track sounds like a surreal or foreign language. When coupled with layers of backward instrumental tracks, the music takes on a rather creepy quality.

Much of the music on Old Land creates feelings of moodiness and tension. "Wermut" is a somewhat somber synth/piano composition, while "Steinsame" is mournful and dirge-like; dark clouds of sadness loom heavily over this piece. "Schone Hande" and "Fur Luise" are successful in their ability to evoke atmospheric nature scenes. Geese, vocalizing, fly over a mist-covered lake in early morning in "Schonde Hande"; and in "Fur Luise," an owl coos warmly, softly in the evening through short, synthetic waves of sound. In contrast, the "Base and Apex" atmospherics lean toward synthetic, funky basslines and percussion.

Michael Weisser provides the cover photo, one in a series of similar photos he created for two other Cluster/Eno compilations: Begegnungen and Begegnungen II. The West German Sky Records label issued these two in 1984. They consist of several Eno/Cluster compositions from their first two collaborations (see above), plus many choice cuts of previously released solo material and tracks by various combinations of musicians: Roedelius, Moebius, Moebius and Roedelius, Moebius and Plank, and Moebius Plank Neumeier. Sky released Old Land a year later, thereby providing a trio of superb compilations for fans not interested in purchasing all of the original releases.

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