Monday, April 10, 2017

Harmonia - 2007 - Live 1974

Live 1974

01. Schaumberg (10:45)
02. Veteranissimo (17:26)
03. Arabesque (5:20)
04. Holta Polta (15:01)
05. Ueber Ottenstein (9:30)

- Michael Rother / guitar, electric percussion, piano & organ
- Hans-Joachim-Roedeius / electronic organ & piano
- Dieter Moebius / synthesizer & electronic percussion

Releases information
Recorded : Live in concert 23rd March 1974 Penny Station in Griessen,Germany

If you know those old electronic rhythm devices such as you´d find on old organs - that snuffle and chug like a puffing steam train, then look no further if you want to know how this sounds applied to music.

Harmonia was a German trio consisting of Michael Rother off legendary Krautrock band NEU! and the 2 electronic wizards from Cluster Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. One could almost call this a super group, if these guys were better known to the world outside of Germany and the few Krautrock connoisseurs out there.

As the title suggests this record was cut in 1974, and luckily so because all 3 musicians here was at the very top of their game. None of these tracks feature anywhere else in their discography (at least to my knowledge), which means that you get 5 sparkling new tracks. On top of this, the sound quality of this release happens to be vibrant and warm, and by the flick of the switch - with eyes closed - ready for a mind movie, you´re transported back in time to this tasty and imaginative gig. This is serious headphone music, and it helps big time if you can picture the Penny Station in Griessen Germany filled with long haired freaks and folks sitting on their jackets smoking, drinking, tripping doing their very best to escape the earthly bounds of the floor.

All of these tracks sound improvised with blowing ambient synth landscapes that consistently prowls the airwaves like soft and delicate wolverines in flight. Together with Michael Rother´s spacey and lingering guitar work, the music takes on an effervescent characteristic, that makes the music soar and glide in and out of psychedelic terrains and electronic currents.

It is a boat ride just as much as it is a train journey, - a realistic musical adaptation of a trip through the swooping autobahn on a huge robotic vessel. The music is cradling and motorik laden, but still a long way from being gentle and sedate. It feels determined like a commercial ferry ploughing through the streets headed for its home harbour. Just like German engineering the rhythm boxes showers this release in a very conform coating, but that only ads to the mystery, as to why this album sounds so free.

If you enjoy your music psychedelic, chugging, minimalistic, improvised and hypnotic, then you could do worse than this fine record, which is a fine example of a journey well spent on your bottom. Your head on the other hand has been places, where objects move like echoing slow lightnings through the skies, and your senses feel heightened and crisp like a metaphysical conductor licking the rail road tracks in sheer exuberance.

Despite their short existence, Harmonia was a supergroup of the German Krautrock era whose influence is still felt over 30 years later. The band consisted of former Kraftwerk and NEU! member Michael Rother alongside the members of Cluster (Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius). Together, these three musicians set out to create hypnotic rhythmic minimalist improvisations that would become the blueprint for techno and rave music decades later. With interest in Harmonia's music rising to the surface once again as well as a recent reunion concert held in their homeland, the band has dusted off an excellent unreleased live recording from March 1974. Despite it being close to 34 years old, the sound quality of this hour long performance is stellar and shows just what the band was capable of doing before a live audience. The emphasis throughout this concert is primarily on rhythm and improvisation with a primitive drum machine up front and center . For the uninitiated, the majority of this CD may sound like a record continuously skipping but for those who are fans of Harmonia and the members respective bands (Neu! and Cluster), this is an absolute treasure and a must. Rother's guitar work throughout this CD is amazing as is the quirky keyboard and synth lines coming from the fingers of Moebius and Roedelius. Also, there isn't one bit of applause to be heard between each piece performed (although there is some chatter heard in the background on some tracks) - a testament of an attentive and focused audience. With this said, Harmonia's Live 1974 disc is an historic new classic from this legendary band. This disc combined with their two studio discs (as well as their short-lived collaboration with Brian Eno) makes for an excellent open-minded listening experience. While the music itself is from 1974, it is still full of freshness and newness as if it were played yesterday. So, without any further delay, I highly recommend this CD. It's a classic piece of German Krautrock and electronic music from the height of the era.



    1. Thanks for all the tasty Cluster! Roedelius recently performed here; it was an incredible gig. He is so sweet, kind, and tolerant. His music is a reflection of his soul.