Kluster B - 'b' (album)
We’ve written about Swedish quintet Kluster B, ‘the Artist formally known as Kluster’, a few times since we came across them just over 2 years ago. Their new album, simply entitled 'b', was released last month and it’s a fascinating mix of warped but accessible indie pop tracks, along with those which will take longer to comprehend.
It’s clearly been a challenging year for the band since the release of their debut album ‘Civic’, which was released in 2018. Separated from each other in both geography and in emotional support, the band underwent what was described as a ‘crisis’, and the torment that they went through shaped the recording of ‘b’. At the same time the band went through a slight renaming process, thus becoming ‘Kluster B’.
Musically ‘Kluster B’ are a curious mix of sounds, but the members all have a background and formal training in Jazz. Overall you’ll hear pop, punk, rock (inc maths rock perhaps) , jazz and indie styles all fused together, with the jazz element giving them a natural freedom to do as they want in their tracks.
The mix I mentioned earlier between the ‘accessible’ and the more challenging tracks can be demonstrated quite easily by openers ‘Counterpoint’ and ‘Graveyard’. ‘Counterpoint’ took an age to adjust to, discordant, no attempt really to define a conventional structure and melody. Apparently written as ‘’a wish for ones human shortcomings to be accepted.’’ vocalist Linnea Hall’s repeated questioning of ‘What the hell is going on’ will be some peoples initial thoughts about the track if they're not expecting it.
Yet contrast that with ‘Graveyard’, where everything makes immediate perfect sense – for sure the time signatures are difficult to comprehend, the song bounces between different sections, but I love the unconventional element, indie pop but all skewed and wonky, and the most sublime transition at just over 1 minute 40 seconds.
I like Linnea Hall’s translucent vocals in ‘Unicorn’, but’ in ‘Backseat Liberty’ the vocal duties are switched, and after a strong opening the tuneless chorus does slightly grate on my ears – although clearly the lyrics are pointed and worth listening to. Instrumental track ‘Wicked’ is far more interesting with a shimmering mix of complex sounds fused together, spiralling and changing shape very slightly in the style of Steve Reich and others. ‘The Duel’ does appeal after multiple listens, It sounds like they’re doing their own unique take on 90’s shoegaze – I love the fragments of tune interspersed with the huge pot of complex instrumentals, that eventually opens up into an anthemic chorus. It’s as if Lush have been put through a blender.
‘Hold’ leaves me cold and slightly frustrated, but ‘Eruptor’ captures my attention right from the captivating guitar sound at the start, with the vocals having a power that I wasn’t expecting, and which somehow keeps me interested throughout the 7 minutes of noise, even after multiple listens. And they end with the irresistible ‘Love Must Conquer’, because of course they can write a simpler catchy indie pop song whenever they want, they just choose to confound most of us with their musical wizardry and free-flowing experimentation.
Kluster B remind me of a fair few of the UK bands that are based in the Bristol region, not as ‘heavy’ as the likes of Soeur and Memory of Elephants but with a similar ethos and level of musical talent. There is definitely a ‘market’ for this type of music, as the fantastic Arc Tangent festival demonstrates, but I can’t deny also that a few tracks still go over my head, even after a month of listening - I like them very much, and get frustrated with myself for not liking them even more. But even taking this into account, ‘b’ is a pretty phenomenal release, with a creativity and free flowing spirit that leaves me in awe. Undoubtedly an album I will keep coming back to over and over due to its complexity, it also has individual ‘easy listening’ tracks that could be on any indie lovers playlist – I really hope everyone will give it a fair listen.
Nordic Music Review 7.5/10
You can buy the Kluster B album on vinyl on Bandcamp, and you can also find them on Facebook and Instagram. You can also find them on the brand new NMR Indie playlist here - please support them (and us!) by following it.