HARMONIA 76 – “TRACKS AND TRACES” (1976)
Just found out about the new release of Harmonia live material, remedy under the title “Live 1974″. Quite a momentous occasion, which usually calls for a culling through the archives for related material –
This CD was put out by Rykodisc about ten years ago, and has since slipped way out-of-print. It’s an album’s worth of material from a collabo between Harmonia (Rother, Moebius, Roedelius) and Brian Eno that remained unreleased for twenty years, for some strange reason. Wikipedia sez:
“Various websites quote Eno as saying that Harmonia was ‘the world’s most important rock band’ in the mid ’70s, including Sherman Wick in his review of ‘Musik Von Harmonia’, the first Harmonia album. 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 Cluster’s fourth album ‘Zuckerzeit’ and had joined Harmonia on tour, first playing with the group at The Fabrik in Hamburg.
Jeff Melton, who reviewed ‘Tracks and Traces’ for the Expose Progressive Music website, described the album, in part: ‘Overall the album is relaxing and evokes dream like images but doesn’t force you to passively count sheep. For a lost project which had been unreleased for over twenty years, I’d say it’s as current any techno project if only for the strength of the collaboration and the blurring of egos.’ The album has only one vocal track, ‘Luneburg Heath’. Jess Barnett, writing in her review for FensePost, comments that the song ‘has a strong Eno presence and a disembodied voice singing, ‘Donâ€™t get lost on Luneberg Heath’. The synth lines are twangy and muffled, repetitive but not boring.’ Ned Raggett, writing the review for All Music Guide, says in part: ‘Having already created two excellent albums, the core Harmonia trio was easily placed to whip up a third, with Eno the wild-card factor who turned out to be a perfect addition. While contributing some lyrics and singing at a time when he was steering away firmly from both in his own solo work, most of the time Eno lets the band speak for themselves musically, most notably adding snaky, quietly threatening basslines.’
After Michael Rother left Harmonia Eno continued to work with Moebius and Roedelius, recording two albums: ‘Cluster & Eno’ in 1977 and ‘After The Heat’ in 1978. Harmonia also 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 ‘Apollo’ LP, with its minimalist picked guitar and simple piano runs.”