Odd as it may seem for a guitar-toting wordsmith to release a collaborative album of electronica in which he never opens his mouth or so much as brushes past a guitar, Lloyd Cole actually has a bit of form in this respect. The Jimmy Carr of book-smart bedsitterdom released the electronic instrumental album Plastic Wood in 2001, and this came to the attention of Cluster co-founder Hans- Joachim Roedelius. In due course, a collaboration was mooted, which has taken a decade-and-a-bit to bear fruit.
Whether or not long-haul Commotions fans will be left scratching their heads is hardly the point: Selected Studies Vol 1 is an entirely successful undertaking on its own terms, enriched by the quiet absorption of congruent confederates who intuitively understand that all manner of gods and devils are in the detail. The small, fine-spun melodies of Lullerby, Pastoral and Virginie L resonate with a warmth that rarely figures in electronic music; Still Life With Kannyu recalls the becalmed Cluster of Soweiso; and TangoLargo will be soundtracking footage of a forest canopy before the year is out. Conversely, HIQS is a gently abrasive throwback to the days when Cluster were still spelled with a K, and Wandelbar is an inscrutable machine-hum, surging in nauseous waves.