Harmonia Live 1974
35 years after the event, a remarkable live document from the golden age of Krautrock .
The legend of Harmonia as fanned by Brian Eno and David Bowie is as far-reaching as their discography is sparse - just three albums in 35 years document their ineffable blend of kosmische drones, chugging rock anthems and addictive melodies. Their lives performances were legendary - i.e. played in front of tiny audiences and unrecorded. So, the excitement was palpable when Harmonia Live 1974, dropped out of the sky in 2009 - a rare live document of Krautrock's heydey. Performed in front of just 50 souls in a disused railway station in Grissem, Netherlands, the suitably grainy album cover photo holds out a promise of a typically raw and murky mid-70-s concert recording, the sound quality is in fact remarkably clear, with an exquisite balance between the band’s looped electronic percussion, transcendental guitar lines, and sublime keyboards. We kick off with the motorik pulse of "Schaumberg," an archetypal it's-better-to-travel-than-to-arrive riff. The 17-minute "Veteranissimo" it shuffles along on the back of addictively tacky snare-kick rhythm. Moebi's synth notes slither in and out, while kosmiche tones ebb and flow in and out of the mix in that always-the-same-never-quite-the-same-twice modus operandi that the band were so good at. The carefree "Arabesque" bounces around like a kid in a playground before lurching gothic-cum-industrial pulse "Holta-Polta," where Rother's one note is a masterpiece of sustained 15 minute-long invention for electric guitar. If many Krautrock acts were essentially studio improvisers creating works that were not easily reproducible on stage, the surprise discovery here at that Harmonia were equally good live too.
Source: Stephen Iliffe