October 26, 2007 | Leave a Comment

Ah, 1974, the days when even eight-minute performances were considered wussy; nothing more than an opportunity for artists to banter with the crowd prior to the 28-minute drum solo.

large_harmonia_01.jpg3 stars Harmonia Live 1974

Gentle piano riffs, noodling guitar and super production.



All five tracks on this 57-minute release start off like an amalgamation of every moody, echoey, feedback-strewn Pink Floyd prelude of yore. Of course, with Floyd we learned to perservere with the indulgences ‘cos there was usually something good coming round the corner, alas with Harmonia’s 1974 live gig what we get are quarter-hour intros which never quite segue into the type of music we’re used to these days. And really that’s the point, if you’re looking for something contemporary then forget it.

Moody, languid and not at all hard on the ear, this rythmic German three-piece were considered cutting-edge at the time – Brian Eno was once a collaborator — but today this disc serves only the Indiana Jones types who like a bit of aural archaeology.

In fact considering the date of this recording and the tank-tops in the cover pics, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to receive a scratchy, blurry and faded nightmare but the sound is surprisingly well-produced with a complete lack of crowd noise — although this is best put down to Teutonic politeness rather than woeful turnout. There is fuzz of course, Michael Rother’s guitar flits about over gentle piano tinkling like an angry bee, but it comes without the fuzziness that marrs so many live (and studio) albums of the seventies. Harmonia will have limited appeal today to anybody but enthusiasts, but as a great snapshot of German electronica back in the days when Kraftwerk were just getting it together this is a fine historical document.    



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