Harmonia (band)

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Harmonia
Harmonia-Eno-1976.jpg
Brian Eno (left) with Harmonia—Roedelius, Rother, and Moebius—in Forst, Germany circa 1976.
Background information
OriginForst, Germany
GenresKrautrock, kosmische, experimental rock, electronic
Years active1973–1976
2007–2009
LabelsBrain, Grönland, Water
Associated actsNeu!, Cluster, Kluster, Brian Eno
WebsiteMichael Rother's Harmonia page
Myspace: Roedelius/Cluster/Harmonia
MembersMichael Rother
Hans-Joachim Roedelius
Dieter Moebius
Past membersMani Neumeier
Brian Eno

Harmonia was a West German musical "supergroup" formed in 1973 as a collaboration between members of two prominent krautrock bands: Michael Rother of Neu! with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius of Cluster. Based in the countryside village of Forst, the trio released two albums in their initial incarnation: Musik von Harmonia (1974) and Deluxe (1975). They reformed between 2007 and 2009.

AllMusic described the group as "one of the most legendary in the entire krautrock/kosmische scene."[1] Collaborator Brian Eno described them in the mid-1970s as "the world's most important rock group."[1] Harmonia's work would influence the development of ambient music by Eno and albums by David Bowie.[2]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

In 1973, the duo of Moebius and Roedelius, also known as Cluster, moved to the rural village of Forst, West Germany after being offered residence in a historic countryside house by the German government in exchange for upkeep. 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 co-produced the album.

Collaboration with Eno[edit]

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,[2] Daniel Dumych writes in his article for hyperreal.org that "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." Eno had joined Harmonia once live in 1974, jamming with the group at The Fabrik in Hamburg. David Bowie considered Harmonia one of the most important and influential German bands of the era.[2]

Harmonia continued to influence Brian Eno's work long after its demise. 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.[2]

Reformation[edit]

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.[3][4]

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.

Musical style[edit]

According to AllMusic, the work of Harmonia was borne out of "relaxed, improvisational jam sessions that wedded Cluster's exploratory space music with the chugging rhythms and guitar sense of Rother."[5] Pitchfork stated that the group's debut album Musik von Harmonia (1974) "was a precise meeting of their constituent parts—Roedelius’ eerie beauty, Möbius’ sense of tension, Rother’s cool exploration—with each member contributing to the sound equally," while the second album Deluxe (1975), featuring contributions from engineer Conny Plank and drummer Mani Neumeier of Guru Guru, "refined their approach into a kind of shimmering pastoral dub."[6] According to Pitchfork, "copies of their records found their way into some famously open-eared and influential fans in the UK—Brian Eno and David Bowie, among others—and Harmonia’s music has been part of the experimental rock canon ever since."[7]

Members[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
Compilation and live albums
Singles
  • 1975 "De Luxe (Immer Wieder)"/"Monza (Rauf Und Runter)"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bush, John Allmusic biography. Retrieved September 2, 2007
  2. ^ a b c d Abramovich, Alex (20 January 2016). "The Invention of Ambient Music". New Yorker.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "Worldtronics 2007. Festival of Electronic Music. 27.11.2007 - 01.12.2007". Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  5. ^ Bush, John Allmusic biography. Retrieved September 2, 2007
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]