Harmonia - Live 1974 (Vinyl)

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Harmonia was a West German musical "supergroup" formed in 1973 as a collaboration between members of two prominent krautrocl bands: Clusters Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius joined by Neu! guitarist Michael Rother. Living and recording in the rural village of Forst, the trio released two albums—Musik Von Harmonia (1974) and Deluxe (1975)—to limited sales before dissolving in 1976. This album is the only fully live album released by the group. It was recorded live in concert on 23 March 1974 at Penny Station in Griessem, Germany. Its release sparked enough interest in the group to convince them to reform in order to promote the album.

I pose this question because it has been concluded by others elsewhere. Well, the sound is very good - primitive stereo with good definition, particularly on Michael Rother's guitar-playing that is quite amazing in its economy and manicured noisiness on the lock-groove opener, "Schamburg". This certainly belies the myth that, in the group Neu!, Klaus Dinger was more the "punk" guitarist while Michael Rother played nice tunes. At times, such as the curiously mistitled "Arabesque" (hardly Debussy in this version), Rother plays layers of sound with that curiously muted, mixed down guitar "thrash" that reminds one of Fripp on "No Pussyfooting" over the top of repeating keyboard patterns. Even stranger, "Holta-Polta" uses an unhinged drum machine and two lines of keyboards to create an effect so prescient of the "trance" sound that was to be nearly 20 years later that you can only marvel at Harmonia's wonderful "fan only" self-indulgence. Once you've acclimatised to Harmonia's sound world, the final track, Uber Ottenstein, is a gently hypnotic wonder that would have fitted well on side 1 of Neu 75 or towards the end of Harmonia's second album. The only thing missing is a mix by the late, lamented Conrad Plank.

Not for the faint-hearted but definitely an unreleased gem and pleasing to see that it has the power to baffle people into thinking it is "directionless" - isn't it nice to amble sometimes? I don't know what people would have made of it in 1974 (remember those underwhelmed/ baffled reviews of "Another Green World" or "Index of Metals" on Evening Star in the 1975 music press?)but it's a joy to hear Rother playing even better than with Neu! (which is really saying something) and the album as a whole more than equalling their 2 studio albums. Remember them this way.

By: JBlades

A1 Schaumburg
A2 Veteranissimo
B1 Arabesque
B2 Holta-Polta
B3 Ueber Ottenstein

Gronland Records.