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11 Jun 2016

Cluster “Trikolon” 1969 Live Germany Prog Rock Kraut Rock

Cluster “Trikolon” 1969 Live Germany Prog Rock Kraut Rock

full album

Some months ago I received the suggestion of TRIKOLON for Symphonic, so immediately searched, found and bought the CD, I must say it was worth the effort (A bit expensive though) because the album is outstanding.
With great sorrow and despite the clear Bach and Mozart influence we had to say no to the addition, because it was closer to Kraut or Psychedelia than to Symphonic, but immediately sent it to another team. After some months being checked for different sub-genres, I was authorized to add it to Krautrock and immediately started a review.
The first thing I have to say is that their only album named Cluster is simply delightful, the band commanded by the “insane” keyboardist “Henrik Schaper”, combine efficiently the frenetic exploration of Psychedelia with “Classical” Music (mainly Bach) and some Jazz, to create a fantastic combination of elaborate songwriting and jamming.
The album is opened by the dramatic  Search for the Sun, a rhythmic song with Schaper in the vocals (more or less in the range of Mick Jagger)  and Psych oriented keyboards, but nothing would be complete without the work of Rettberg (bass) and that human metronome called Ralf Scmieding in the drums. For the casual listener it may seem like pure jamming (yes, there’s a lot of this also), but if you  pay attention the elaborate structure is evident, and if we add the spectacular organ (with touches of Bach), we are before a 14:33 minutes epic that goes far beyond Psychedelia.
After this first track I was expecting no changes in the rest of he album, but  Trumpet for Example proved I was mistaken, because Schaper and his hallucinating trumpet takes us into Jazz Fusion territory, but again well blended with frenetic Psyche passages that keep the listener at the edge of the sit. It’s necessary to mention Scmieding, who proves he’s not just a good drummer that can keep the time perfectly, but a versatile musician who is able to contribute with any style genre or mood that the band decides to play.
In Hendrik’s Easy Groove, Schaper takes us deep into Jazz fusion, because this piano track seems like a tribute to great musicians as Duke Ellington, but always going a step beyond. This time we are talking about pure jamming by an obviously virtuoso keyboardist.
Blue Rondo is obviously based in Mozart’s famous piece and Dave Brubeck’s adaptation, but also in Keith Emerson’s work with “The Nice” (without the annoying abuse of the Moog). Again the rhythm section is impeccable but as usual Schaper is the star of the band. As a special note, this version includes elements of Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turk, unlike THE NICE’s version which only pays tribute to   Blue Rondo by Brubeck.
My edition has a bonus track called Fugue, a 22.22 minutes eclectic version of Toccata & Fugue in D Minor by Johan Sebastian Bach, a piece that may sound a bit rough today, but lets remember this is a self financed live album, and the band couldn’t afford the best recording techniques or production, so it’s amazing that it could be rescued in CD format after more than  three decades and  despite all the problems they had to face. Absolutely breathtaking interpretation.
Before I rate the album I must say that the beauty of Cluster relies not only in the virtuosity of the musicians and excellent musical pieces, but also in the fact that it’s the only testimony that this obscure band left for posterity, so in my opinion we are talking about an excellent addition for any Prog collection, and a must have for fans of early Prog that deserves no less than 4 solid stars…….
That Trikolon’s sole album exists at all is the result of a sheer force of will. This live concert was privately released in a tiny run of 150 copies, so that an original album today is nothing short of a small fortune. This kind of musical entrepreneurship just wasn’t done in 1969 Germany.

I bring this up, because it would be easy to criticize the album in retrospect. Rocked out versions of classical music are yawn-inducing today, but I would imagine it was quite enlightening to the audience that had gathered for this show. And keyboardist Hendrik Schaper puts on quite the performance for those who did attend on this fortuitous night.

Opening track, Brian Auger’s ‘In Search of the Sun’ (from Streetnoise), is extended beyond recognition here. This track features the only vocals on the album, and it surprisingly sounds like Eric Burdon and The Animals. Schaper actually declares the lyrics rather than singing them, just like Burdon would. On 'Trumpet for Example’ the ever talented Schaper blows a few notes on his horn, and then gets back to banging on the organ until silly. “Hendrik’s Easy Groove’ is indeed a piano recital, and while I’m sure it was quite fun for the audience this one night, it proves to be quite a dull listen for everyone else. Perhaps his mother would have been proud however. Too bad it wasn’t "Hendrix’s Easy Groove” with an accompanying 11 minute wah wah guitar solo, while the stringed instrument is burning an inferno in front. Ah well. From here on out, it’s Rockin’ the Classics, where Schaper goes ballistic on his poor organ of older vintage, beating the living crap out of it. 22 minute bonus track 'Fuge’ continues in a similar manner, where all of the trikolon get in on the frenetic action.

So imagine Soft Machine circa “III” playing the music of The Nice, and you’d have an idea where Trikolon land. Historically a phenomenon, though modern audiences may get bored. A good one for the collection, though it won’t get played often…….
This album is all about the impressive talents of the keyboard player, Hendrik Schaper. In fact the album might as well be classified a solo album, so dominant he is. In the rock parts he displays his skills on the organ, which sounds like a Farfisa (? - similar to The Doors’ Ray Manzarek). It’s a pity he didn’t have a Hammond to hand because the results would have been majestic. At other times he is on piano, with one long track being a solo piece where he encompasses classical with Jazz, incorporating very well known Dave Brubeck numbers. He truly is / was a wonderful talent and without doubt had both a classical and Jazz background. The recording is quite low-fi, so it would be difficult, not to say, unfair to really judge them on this live recording. The rock tracks are long Jazzy organ work-outs which also use Jazz motifs.

The other members are mostly just there to make up the numbers although there is a bass solo, which shows some ability, in the bonus track “Fuge” . Sections of this final and long (22 minute) track are made up of segments of Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and it may even be played in its entirety (I could check but I’m too lazy to A-B it). The obligatory drum solo is, as usual, forgettable and unnecessary (well to me at any rate) but at least it’s mercifully short. Schaper plays both organ and electric piano on “Fuge”

Great album, especially for the keyboard connoisseur and I’d have loved to hear a studio album. ……..
Typically thorough reissue on Garden of Delights of the exceedingly rare (only 150 made) self-released 1969 album by a trio of organ/piano/trumpet/vocals, bass and drums. Obviously very influenced by The Nice and perhaps to a lesser extent early Soft Machine, this album was recorded live to stereo tape and has a really raw feel to it. The band later metamorphosed into the equally obscure Sixty Nine (a drum and keyboards duo). Includes a thorough band history, many rare photos and even a bonus track. [Garden of Delights) ……

Line-up / Musicians
- Hendrik Schaper / Keyboards, trumpet, vocals
- Rolf Rettberg / Bass
- Ralf Schmieding / Drums

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. In Search for the Sun (14:31)
2. Trumpet for Example (7:22)
3. Hendrik’s Easy Groove (11:05)
4. Blue Rondo (10:30

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..