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2 stars Recorded in 1976, but never released until a few years ago, this collection of improvised noodling is for completists only (Roedelius, who was obviously trying to make a buck on this turkey, released a couple of other collaborative tracks on his recent "Theater Works" album, which are of the same quality). I'm sure that the others involved in this project had no desire to have this material see the light of day. Admittedly, a lot of Cluster's output had the same sort of improvised, simplistic quality, but there's just no spark here. Even the sounds employed by the artists are dull and unimaginative. I gave this album several chances, even pulling it out of my "to sell" box twice for yet another listen, but to no avail.
Report this review (#43853)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Tracks & Traces" is the concrete result of a mythical reunion between Eno and cluster members in the Weserbergland area of Germany back in 1976. After two beautiful "avant garde" pre-ambient "motoric" electronic albums, Moebius & Roedelius side project Harmonia has launched the bases of ambient music in this collection of synth "dreamy" soundscapes. Eno gave some help to the band with lyrics and additional synth parts. This album can give you an idea of what is coming next during Eno / Cluster fruitful collaboration. A few tracks sounds as post-rock and are a reminiscence of a few Eno's compositions "Vamos Campaneros". "Sometimes in Autumn" and "weird dream" represent the most "ambient" moment of the album with "visceral" linear electronic soundscapes...Songs as "By the riverside" and "Almost" reminds me the simplistic, effective introspect melodies used in Cluster's "Sowiesoso". "When Shade was born" is a melodic, floating piece with nice piano parts. A beautiful album, a representative "crossover" between Eno's tortured, ambient universe and Cluster's meditative / electronic period.
Report this review (#57656)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I had always liked the Harmonia albums so when I heard there was an unreleased one being issued in the 90s I was quite excited. To my suprise this had quite a lot of Eno vocals, and I would guess that's why it wasn't released earlier.... but it also has longer ambient tracks that are quite beautiful and you will definitely want to get this if you are exploring the weird and wired world of Cluster.
Report this review (#114510)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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.

Report this review (#200052)
Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Last Harmonia's album is a product of early electronic super group. No jokes, great German early electronic experimentators Moebius, Roedelius and Rother there collaborates with British ambient guru Brian Eno.

Unhappily, result isn't so great, as could be expected. Harmonium changed direction from their earlier experimental works to more accessible, and Eno lyrics, vocals and some electronic ambient effects doesn't bring the magic to refresh the sound.

Album was recorded in 1976, but didn't released till 1997. Looking from now, it sounds simplistic and quite dated. For sure, Cluster and Eno ambient sound fan will easily find there many pleasant elements, but for not such involved listener this work is pleasant, but dated recording, more nostalgic reminder about mid 70-s electronic music, then really good music to listen today.

Report this review (#278330)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permalink

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