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26 February 2017

Harmonia - 'Music von Harmonia' (Lilith)

The Russians did a nice job reissuing this, ticking all of the boxes (nice hard cardstock LP gatefold, good thick pressing, that thing where they put a plastic liner inside the paper sleeve) and even including some nice liner notes by Asmus Tietchens, in both English and Russian.  If they have infiltrated the American government's executive branch, then hopefully we'll at least get some more nice reissues out of it! You may have noticed that I don't own any Cluster LPs, though that's due to circumstance, not because I don't like them. The pairing of Cluster with Michael Rother is a true supergroup and I think the stuff with Eno on the Harmonia '76 CD is pretty good, too. This first album really gels, and the few decades since have seen its ideas repeatedly return to the vanguard, cyclically.  'Sehr Kosmisch' is the homerun, an 11 minute piece in the middle of side 1 where slowly separating and re-converging drones float over a dark pulse, with some effected newagey keystrokes plinking about in the outer speaker space, a tickling of the higher consciousness. It sounds thick and staticky on vinyl, and after a lifetime of hearing beautiful and mysterious electroacoustic soundscapes, it ranks as one of the best. It feels energetic despite its slow momentum, crackling with electricity (as does the entire record). The way it slides into 'Sonnenschein' is a magnificent transition, as the latter track explodes with a strong mid-tempo rhythm and conjures images of colonial expeditions, space travel, and the promise of plastic. Side two are made up of shorter pieces and there's a lot of motorik Neu! sounds (like the nervous 'Veterano') and warm, analog synth/keyboard tones throughout. For artists that I always think of being 'electronic music', Cluster and Harmonia are remarkably organic, with recognisable instruments throughout and a nice wooden feeling. Yet there's a futurism at play here - just listen to 'Dino', which after 40 more years of experimental sound development still sounds fresh and inviting, like an undiscovered world. 

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