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Harmonia - Musik Von CD (album) cover

MUSIK VON

Harmonia

 

Progressive Electronic

3.94 | 51 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Consisting of two parts CLUSTER(Hans-Joachim Rodelius and Dieter Moebius)and one part NEU!(Michael Rother), HARMONIA emerged during 1973 with one of the genre's most colourful and recognisable sleeves. And never has an album cover been so different from the music it represents yet somehow been so justifiable.

MUSIK VON HARMONIA sports a brash, bold, comic-book art drawing of a simple bottle of detergent with the bands name encased in a spiky yellow explosion of a speech bubble. The bubble is featured on the electric blue-coloured detergent bottle's lower half with the names of the musicians sit ting above the band motif in smaller, sparser letters whilst behind the central image strange, ornate flames flicker and loom in the darkness.

Is it a joke? An acerbic attack on the erosive cultural capabilities of bland pop? Or is it a serious statement regarding the disposable nature of modern music? Or maybe a mix of all the above? Whatever the meaning, the crisp, hypnotic electronic rhythms are immediate. The juxtaposition of a mundane household item and the strange, beautiful, emotive cosmic sounds of this three-piece is both jarring and yet utterly correct. The brave, bright colouring signals that, yes, this is a simple bottle of detergent, but inside there is something unexpected, something much complex and fascinating. The reference point is obviously Warhol in his more jocular, mainstream-courting moments, framing the mixture of the mundane with the extraordinary and the bizarre. The music itself is classic Krautrock. Electro-grooves, motorik drumming, tribal beats, fizzing keyboards, primitive technology and psychedelic sonic textures all rolled up into a blissful spaced-out mixture of instrumental avant-garde ambience.

From the fragile synth-backed groove of WATUSSI to the guitar-flecked, sun-dappled meditations of DINO, MUSIK VON HARMONIA ebbs and flows naturally and effortlessly, eschewing accepted musical structures for experimental new excursions into lengthy, ad- libbed electronic jams. Darker pieces, such as the ominous OHRWURM, maybe delve too deep into the distorted sound-of-electrics experiments once produced by innovative genre- mates CLUSTER ditching melodies in favour of a discordant brew of mysteriously archaic neo-futuristic soundscapes. But the overall feel of the album is both mellow and upbeat, with layers of keyboards and guitars adding a warm glow to proceedings. Unfortunately, despite the ornate beauty of their work, Harmonia's career was a sadly truncated one, with just three studio albums and one live effort making up their entire back catalogue. MUSIK VON HARMONIA is the pick of the bunch, its influences instantly identifiable in a whole host of latter-day pop, dance and rock records. DELUXE, although similar in style, is a less whimsical offering which drenches everything in a thick, glutinous array of dreamy synthesizers that dispenses with the bands darker, more experimental tendencies, thus rendering it in a more simplistic and less challenging light.

LIVE 1974, however, is a wonderful account of the bands live setup as well as a rare example of genuinely well-recorded live electronic Krautrock. It is here that the band stretch and meld many of the pieces featured on MUSIK VON HARMONIA and DELUXE into long, winding experimental epics that bathe the listener in a golden glow of strange, sensual electronic sounds. It is also here that we find Harmonia performing in prime condition, twisting original ideas into wonderful sonic textures and platforms; expressing new ideas without fearing the consequences, bringing forth exceptional music of the like that has rarely been attempted and conjuring up beautiful organic sounds from strange, electronic devices?Harmonia's career was brief, but, as time is beginning to tell, it was also singularly brilliant. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2009

stefro | 5/5 |

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