|Labels||Brain, Grönland, Water|
|Associated acts||Neu!, Cluster, Kluster|
|Website||Michael Rother's Harmonia page|
|Past members||Mani Neumeier|
Harmonia is a German musical group formed in Forst in 1973. Considered a supergroup, they formed as a collaboration between Michael Rother of Neu! and Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Möbius of Cluster and later included the British musician Brian Eno.
Despite their short existence, Harmonia has had "a profound influence on the generations of rock and electronic music that have followed." Described by Pitchfork, "[Harmonia] happened to sound like what various kinds of experimental music would sound like 20 years later and what some strains of it will sound like 20 years from now." David Bowie considered Harmonia one of the most important and influential German bands of the era.
As two-thirds of the original group were the entirety of Cluster, the first album, Musik von Harmonia, leaned more towards that band's ambient-tinged rock than Neu!'s Motorik rock. The second album Deluxe had much stronger beats and a more Motorik and arguably more commercial sound. With the addition of Brian Eno for the 1976 recording sessions the third album, Tracks and Traces, was again more ambient in style.
In 1971, the duo of Moebius and Roedelius, also known as Cluster, moved to the rural village of Forst, West Germany. Michael Rother put his project Neu! on hold in early 1973 to form the band Harmonia with Roedelius and Moebius. Together they built their own studio in Forst and recorded two albums under the name Harmonia: Musik von Harmonia in 1974 and Deluxe in 1975, both released on Brain.
Musician, writer, and rock historian Julian Cope places both albums in his Krautrock Top 50. The trio also toured and a new recording drawn from this period, Live 1974 was released on the UK-based Grönland Records label on 22 October 2007 and the San Francisco based Water Records label in the United States on 11 December 2007.
After the release of the first Harmonia album and a period on tour Michael Rother took a short break from Harmonia to record the third Neu! album with Klaus Dinger, Neu! '75 in order to complete his contractual obligations. In his absence Cluster recorded Zuckerzeit. Rother did not participate on this album but his influence is greatly felt. Zuckerzeit sounds different from any other Cluster album, with clearly defined melody and beat and a very rhythmic sound, at times approaching the Motorik style of Neu!
Bowie and Eno
After the release of Deluxe Harmonia went back to touring until Roedelius, Moebius and Rother ended their collaboration in summer 1976. All three members started solo projects but rejoined as Harmonia in September 1976 when Brian Eno visited them in Forst for 11 days, living and recording with Harmonia. The material for Tracks and Traces was not released until 1997 because the tapes were long considered lost.
Eno has stated that Harmonia was "the world's most important rock band" in the mid '70s, a statement included in Sherman Wick's review of Musik von Harmonia. Daniel Dumych, who also cites that quote, writes in his article for hyperreal.org: "Perhaps Eno's reason for praising Harmonia so highly was that their music fit the requirements of ambient rock. Its music was equally suitable for active or passive listening. The careful listener found his/her attentions rewarded by the musical activities and sounds, but Harmonia's music was also capable of setting a sonic environment." Clearly Eno had been very impressed with both Musik von Harmonia and Zuckerzeit and had joined Harmonia once live in 1974, jamming with the group at The Fabrik in Hamburg.
Harmonia continued to influence Brian Eno's work long after its demise. A review of Musik Von Harmonia on the Cult Cargo website cites the track "Ahoi" as "the blueprint for a couple of the tracks on Eno's 1983 Apollo LP, with its minimalist picked guitar and simple piano runs." Harmonia's work, according to critic Alex Abramovich, helped to lay the foundation not only for ambient music but for generations of blues-less rock bands, from Wire and New Order to My Bloody Valentine, and all the way up to LCD Soundsystem.
Harmonia reunited in 2007 following the release of their album Live 1974, a recording of their concert of 23 March 1974 at Penny Station Club in Griessem, Germany. Rother, Roedelius and Moebius performed live as Harmonia for the first time since 1976, opening the Worldtronics Festival at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Germany on 27 November 2007.
Harmonia made their first live appearance in the UK on 18 April 2008, playing on the opening night of the Ether Festival in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre, London. In July 2008, the band also headlined the final day of the Supersonic Festival in Birmingham.
Harmonia further appeared at the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in the UK in May 2008, at the Numusic festival in Stavanger, Norway, at an edition of ATP curated by My Bloody Valentine in New York in September 2008 and at the Australian series of the festival, curated by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in January 2009.
In September 2009, an extended version of Tracks and Traces was released by Gronland. The new album features three additional tracks from the Harmonia & Eno ´76 collaboration. Tracks and Traces Remixed, an album composed of remixes followed in 2010.
Dieter Moebius died in July 2015.
In October 2015, Grönland Records released the 6-disc vinyl boxset Complete Works. The box included all three studio albums, Live 1974 and Documents 1975; a collection of 2 live tracks and 2 early versions of Deluxe LP album tracks. Documents 1975 was released as a separate CD and vinyl-LP in March 2016. Documents 1975 had been released as a cassette prior to the Complete Works boxset in September 2015.
- Michael Rother (1973–1976, 2007–2009)
- Hans-Joachim Roedelius (1973–1976, 2007–2009)
- Dieter Moebius (1973–1976, 2007–2009)
- Brian Eno (1976)
- Mani Neumeier – drums (1975)
- Studio albums
- 1974 Musik von Harmonia
- 1975 Deluxe
- 1997 Tracks and Traces (as Harmonia '76, in 2009 as Harmonia & Eno '76)
- Compilation and live albums
- 2007 Live 1974
- 2010 Tracks and Traces Remixed (as Harmonia & Eno '76)
- 2015 Documents 1975
- 2015 Complete Works (box set)
- 1975 "De Luxe (Immer Wieder)"/"Monza (Rauf Und Runter)"
- Brian Eno
- Dieter Moebius
- Hans-Joachim Roedelius
- List of ambient music artists
- Michael Rother
- Abramovich, Alex (20 January 2016). "The Invention of Ambient Music". New Yorker.
- "Michael Rother's official site, news: "Harmonia album "Live 1974" out now / Harmonia concert on 27th Nov. 2007"". 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- "Worldtronics 2007. Festival of Electronic Music. 27.11.2007 - 01.12.2007". Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- Cult Cargo Harmonia Article. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- Roedelius, Hans-Joachim Official Home Page - Upcoming Events. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- Rother, Michael Harmonia web page. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
- Rother, Michael Michael Rother Home Page. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
- Wick, Sherman Musik Von Harmonia review. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- Bush, John Allmusic biography. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- Dumych, Daniel Harmonia article. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- Cope, Julian Krautrock Top 50. Retrieved September 4, 2005.