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4 stars A wonderful album that manages to sound a little like Cluster (no surprise, with Moebius and Roedelius on hand), Neu! (member Michael Rother is on board), and even Kraftwerk and Can (hey, it's Germany, after all). It's interesting to hear musicians with a predominantly instrumental background throw some vocals into the mix, along with a sense of humor. I'd have to say that the participants were at their respective creative peaks right about this time. Michael Rother's first few solo albums and Moebius and Plank's "Rastakraut Pasta" and "Material" came out about the same time, and all are among my favorite Krautrock releases. Interesting textures, rhythms and melodies abound, and the sound quality is clear and crisp, unlike Harmonia's debut and some of Cluster's albums.
Report this review (#43862)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was first very impatient to listen to this album. Unfortunately after several listenings I've found a certain deception. "Deluxe" is claimed to be Harmonia's absolutely best effort, well, what can I say? I mainly see it as a vague collection of electronic pre-ambient collages, including a poor pop, commercial orientation into it. The main title is an energic but "cheap" electronic manifestation with simplistic melodies and vocals. "Walky takly" is a cohesive ambient electronic "trip" with an obsessional rhythm and some gentle, floating electric guitar parts made by Michael Rother. This composition has a nice "evasion" felt that can remindS some Rother's materials in solo. The synth parts are terribly "kitsch" and sounds near to Roedelius' minimal-electronic works in solo. "Monza" is the rockiest tune of the album, mixing arch guitar sounds to the machines. Not bad. "Notre Dame" is a poor melodic electro attempt. "Gollum" is a typical ambient, floating piece with spacious synth lines and enchanting, delicate atmospheres. A rather sunny and aestival minimal-abstract electronic work...the atmosphere tends to be pleasant, easy to digest after all. In the spirit I prefer by far the weird, textural & dark improvised imagery of "musik von". A nice and recommended listening for fans of Eno & Cluster collective work.
Report this review (#80608)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars A some sort of a classic pre-Ambient album from the 70's German electronic scene, featuring the (yet to be-) CLUSTER duo Roedelius & Moebius, who later caught Brian ENO's interest and worked with him. There must have been influence going both ways between them; one can hear some ENO-ish atmosphere even in the intendedly monotonous vocals on two tracks. Harmonia's third member was multi-instrumentalist Michael Rother, and for this album they invited GURU GURU drummer Mani Neumeier.

The nature of this music is floating, atmospheric, poppy, naiive, sunny and hilarious. Listened today, it sounds rather dated and somehow toyish, or "cheap", in synths. I guess that those who listened to it - or the music of this scene in general - already three decades ago, will enjoy this with warm nostalgia. But for newcomers I don't think it makes a big impression. Maybe the best tracks are in the end, the ones with shorter length. 'Kekse' (does it mean Biscuits perhaps?) ends nicely with sounds from a duck pond and a charming piano melody.

For the connoisseurs this album probably has a notable value, but two stars will be enough from me.

Report this review (#134008)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Second (and last) Harmonia album and released in 75 on the green Brain label, Harmonia represents the living passerelle between Cluster and Kraftwerk. It's indeed hard to believe these three projects did not "compete" in some way, shape or form, because their respective electro-pop is not only fairly close to each other, but also influenced the music scene a half-decade later in the early 80's during the new wave era.

As said above, this album is sometimes closer Kraftwrk (and involuntarily Vangelis in the title track) in the two lengthy tracks on the A-side of the album. Although there is mych repetitive and a certain form of minimalism, these two tracks are probably the highlight of the album. Indeed, on the flipside, the three shorter tracks are a combination of Vangelis meets Tangerine Dream on sleeping tablets and don't bring much interesting except that again, they're a few years ahead of the pack. But definitely more interesting is that Harmonia's Can and Neu! influences are also perceptible , for example in Monza (the racetrack), the longer (7-mins) track of the flipside is rawer and more aggressive.

This album has been re-issued by Brain in a brilliant digipak with pictures of their studio-in-a-mansion and a few more pics of the original back sleeve with the tacky parasol, but also plenty of texts about the group.

Report this review (#204172)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is HARMONIA's second album and they've added the legendary Mani Neumeie (GURU GURU) on drums. We still have the duo (Moebius & Roedelius) from CLUSTER as well as Michael Rother from NEU !. I'm a big fan of the three bands represented here, but this is quite different from them all. I'll quote the liner notes. "What they were creating was unheard of music that remained unparalleled, something which they owed to their own special way of combining acoustic, electronic and electro-acoustic instruments,to the imaginative and sometimes some sort of transcendent way of using their studio equipment as well as to the natural discipline they used to display during the recordings.There was no cosmic wafting, but cool and sober electronics, no brutal rhythms but easy going drums and flowing patterns. Roedelius's dreamy keyboards tunes, Moebius's skilful use of the synthesizers and the Nagoya harp and Rother's unmistakable guitar sound were virtues that could hardly merge in a better way than they did on this HARMONIA album".

The compositions on this album were more complex than they were on the debut yet there is this charm about this recording that can't be missed. "Deluxe (Immer Wieder)" is such a great track. It just sounds so good early on with those spacey sounds then we get sort of a mechanical sounding beat as vocals come in. Guitar sounds come and go. This is catchy until after 4 minutes when it settles right down. Vocals are back 8 minutes in after a long break. "Walky-Talky" is led by what sounds like percussion, drums and various electronics.

"Monza (Rauf Und Runter)" is spacey to open. It stops after 1 1/2 minutes then the guitar sound signals a change as a catchy beat with vocals comes in. This is fun. "Notre Dame" opens with organ sounds as a beat joins in. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes and turns spacey. Contrasts continue. "Gollum" sounds silly to open but the melancholic synths a minute in and later after 2 minutes are very good. "Kekse" sounds so simple for the first 4 1/2 minutes then it changes for the final minute to an experimental soundscape.

I do know people who rave about this release despite the poor ratings on this site, and I have to join in on their praise.

Report this review (#219699)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars The process of recording Neu! 75 was characterised by sharp disagreements over musical direction. These seem to have left a bad taste in Michael Rother's mouth which persisted to the recording of this second Harmonium album, which adds Mani Neumeier from Guru Guru to provide compelling motorik drumming but fails to provide him (or any of the other instrumentalists) with any really compelling compositions to get their teeth into. Failing to reach the standards of its predecessor, the album at points (particularly when the vocals creep in) reminds me of an inferior attempt at the sort of ambient rock that Brian Eno had perfected on Another Green World at around the same time. Not the finest hour of Cluster, Rother, or Neumeier to be honest.
Report this review (#545895)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars How can an album like Harmonia Deluxe, which I consider one of the ultimate Krautrock album, be classified in Progressive Electronic, is beyond me !?! For me, there is 2 type of Krautrock, one organic, like Can, Popol Vuh & Amon Düül and the other, electronic like Clauster, Neu! & this band, Harmonia.

Harmonia is a collaboration between 3 of Krautrock most important creator, Moebius(Clauster), Roedelius(Clauster) & Rother(Neu!). Unfortunately, they made only 2 album, Musik Von Harmonia(1974) & Deluxe(1975) there is a 3 one but not release long after the band was over. It's a shame because the 2 album made by Harmonia are amongst the best album made in Germany during the 70's.

It seems like I'm in the minority of people who really like this album, I like Deluxe so much that I can listen to it in loop for hours without being tired of listening to the same music over and over. The first time I heard it was a very cheap MP3 version that a friend of mine got me from the internet. I didn't like it and was very disappointed because I really like their first one and also, I'm a big, big fan of Krautrock. Since I disapprove illegal downloading and have a enormous CD collection, I had to have that one legal, even if I didn't like it that much. I had their first one so I had to have the second one, for my Krautrock collection. I finally found the remaster version at the HMV in downtown Montréal. Not the place to find a rare album like that ;)

I'm glad I bought it because? It's amazing what a CD with a good sound can change your perception of music your already know and didn't really getting it. I finally got it, it's a cross between the best part of Autoban by Kratfwerk, Hallogallo by Neu! and anything by Clauster. I was looking for an album like that ever since I became a fan of the album Autoban by Kraftwerk and found that their other album, has good as they might be, are more techno than anything. Since my discovery of Krautrock, I knew I was gonna find it, the album. In fact, I found 2, one is Can Future Days and the other, Deluxe by Harmonia. I was surprise to find that it's not as popular of an album in PA that I tough it would be, so I may be in the minority here but, If you like electronic Krautrock, you should try it, you might never know, It could be a winner like it did to me. So I gladly rating it 5 stars, Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music, at least for me it is.

Report this review (#1251374)
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars The 2/3 Cluster, 1/3 Neu! supergroup HARMONIA released their Kosmische Kraut followup to their debut "Von Musik" only a year later and was recorded in the secluded forests near Forst, Germany. DELUXE took all the ambient charm of the debut and added a few new elements to the mix which included a real drummer to take the place of the rather mechanical analogue rhythm machine that had been implemented in the past. The band invited Guru Guru founder Mani Neumeier to use his unique vetted motorik style of percussive drive which added a whole new element to the mix creating a much more rocking sound compared to the ambient dreamy debut. Also new to the sound was the use of vocals on a few tracks with both Roedelius and Rother adding their different musical utterings to add a new texture to the band's carefully crafted rhythmic parade of electronic sounds. In short, DELUXE is an improvement in virtually every aspect with the main emphasis on catchy dreamy keyboard oriented melodies crafted by Roedelius that are shrouded in a misty brume of electronic textures provided by Moebius' mastery of synthesizer antics with a robust guitar presence of Rother. Also creating a distinct timbre to the mix is the electro-acoustic use of the Japanese Nagoya harp.

All of these changes steered the musical sound of DELUXE into totally different arenas as it sounds as if the cast members have found the perfect comfort zones in adding their idiosyncratic musicalities into the melting pot. Roedelius and Moebius bring all the Cluster components back for a sophomore appearance but on DELUXE there is much more of a Neu! presence of Michael Rother who in turn also brings a little of his Kraftwerk days along for the ride. In fact DELUXE sounds like a unique blend of Cluster's "Sowieso," Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" era and early Neu! The result is a perfect mix of the three elements with Cluster's dreamy ethereal side slinking around the percussive Neu!-esque rhythmic drives accented by Neumeier's nuance filled motorik drum style. The tracks are vary significantly this time from one another and complexity level turned up for the compositions that somehow nurture pleasant gleeful melodies into stomping pulsing electronic sensations.

DELUXE is a true mastering of nuanced elements that results in a fairly unique sounding album that exists in that strange universe where Kraftwerk stringent rhythms , Neu!'s hypnotic groove and "Cluster's Sowieso" dreaminess merged into one seamless entity. Despite the nerdy electronic precision dominating any given moment, the album is polished with outstandingly strong, catchy hooks that have an air of Berlin School progressive electronic simmered into a steaming hot pot of tasty electro-Krautrock. DELUXE shows the possibilities and positive results of a supergroup and how collaborative efforts can bring out the strengths of the members on board instead of watered down infighting. It sounds as if HARMONIA should have found some sort of cross-over success with this one but the band soon ended after this one and although they would participate in some recording sessions with Brian Eno, those sessions wouldn't be released until the 90s. Personally i much prefer this second HARMONIA album over the monochromatic ambience of the debut.

Report this review (#1740437)
Posted Sunday, July 2, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.7 Stars really! To me, this is almost 4-star Krautrock album.... If you look at the players, and listen to the sound, it is well earlier in terms of its sound than later electronic music - it has all the hallmarks of classic Krautrock. It does have a melodic and ambient vibe, but the production is very acoustic and organic sounding, with even a bit of Motorrik. Way more so than what would be classified as Progressive Electronic a 'la later Ashra (post Tempel), TD, Klaus Schulze, or even Kraftwerk. Regardless of classification, I find Harmonia to me quintessential Krautrock. I am guessing it is classified otherwise due to date of release. (1975) - I prefer the laundry detergent Musik Von album but this is quite good.

It hums along in the best droning and melodic sense as in Popol Vuh, Neu!, Cluster, GILA, and others, combining all elements - soft Motorrik, some electrics, some acoustics, definite spacey.

I think both Harmonia albums are top 25 Krautrock albums, both in terms of personnel, sound, representation, time frame and quality. Whoever thinks this is PE should have their head and ears examined! Give this album a spin, it has an unmistakable sound, But what do I know?! 3.7/5

Report this review (#2876294)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Review Permalink

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