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Harmonia - Harmonia 76: Tracks & Traces CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.19 | 31 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars This first posthumous release of Harmonia is a real curiosity, since it takes the original trio and rubs them with Brian Eno, another electronic "touché-à-tout", and this record is the sound of their clashing together. Recorded in 76 (this is a bit of a surprise to me: I had no idea Harmonia lasted this long), it comes in the m(most likely) closing days of the group, even if the back cover of the album claims this was the first meeting of Eno and Harmonia. Released under an interesting Roedelius painting artwork, it was recorded in the Harmonia studio in an undisclosed 76 date, the release date being 96.

Musically, this doesn't sound like the light and superb debut album, but more like the death throes of the group, or at least the most difficult time of a diarrhoea. Actually many of the tracks on this album are experimental, the same way Popol Vuh or the pink-era Tangerine Dream was, but this was 5 years before this album's recording date. Maybe this is part of the reason why the album was not released at the time: it would've sounded anachronistically out-of-date back then, something that such musicians simply couldn't afford, since they were at the peak of the electronic avant-garde. If Harmonia had been the clash of Moebius & Roedelius' experimental Cluster sound with Rother's metronomic Neu sound, it only lmooks like the trio gets completely blocked by Eno's aerial and ambient sounds. There are times where the foursome does manage a little something enchanting (the track Almost) but somehow they can't seem able to elevate it to something that would equal the group's first album. Elsewhere there are some vocals sung by Brian and the lyrics are from him, but it's nothing memorable. Apparently this first meeting will be the only one under the Harmonia name and Eno will work with the Cluster pair for another three albums into the late 70's, but without Rother.

An unlikely release that I've only discovered a decade later as I'm revisiting the Kluster-Harmonia oeuvre, one that gives a little more depth to the group's works (along with a live album of much more recent release), but overall it will not affect the project's overall impact on the electro-pop music to come, which their cross-country rivals Kraftwerk will soldier on. No Harmonia unconditional fan should miss this album, but lesser enthusiasts like me, will be happy to have heard the album and once understood its content, then lay it to rest for a few decades.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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