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Harmonia - Deluxe CD (album) cover

DELUXE

Harmonia

 

Progressive Electronic

3.29 | 42 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars The 2/3 Cluster, 1/3 Neu! supergroup HARMONIA released their Kosmische Kraut followup to their debut "Von Musik" only a year later and was recorded in the secluded forests near Forst, Germany. DELUXE took all the ambient charm of the debut and added a few new elements to the mix which included a real drummer to take the place of the rather mechanical analogue rhythm machine that had been implemented in the past. The band invited Guru Guru founder Mani Neumeier to use his unique vetted motorik style of percussive drive which added a whole new element to the mix creating a much more rocking sound compared to the ambient dreamy debut. Also new to the sound was the use of vocals on a few tracks with both Roedelius and Rother adding their different musical utterings to add a new texture to the band's carefully crafted rhythmic parade of electronic sounds. In short, DELUXE is an improvement in virtually every aspect with the main emphasis on catchy dreamy keyboard oriented melodies crafted by Roedelius that are shrouded in a misty brume of electronic textures provided by Moebius' mastery of synthesizer antics with a robust guitar presence of Rother. Also creating a distinct timbre to the mix is the electro-acoustic use of the Japanese Nagoya harp.

All of these changes steered the musical sound of DELUXE into totally different arenas as it sounds as if the cast members have found the perfect comfort zones in adding their idiosyncratic musicalities into the melting pot. Roedelius and Moebius bring all the Cluster components back for a sophomore appearance but on DELUXE there is much more of a Neu! presence of Michael Rother who in turn also brings a little of his Kraftwerk days along for the ride. In fact DELUXE sounds like a unique blend of Cluster's "Sowieso," Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" era and early Neu! The result is a perfect mix of the three elements with Cluster's dreamy ethereal side slinking around the percussive Neu!-esque rhythmic drives accented by Neumeier's nuance filled motorik drum style. The tracks are vary significantly this time from one another and complexity level turned up for the compositions that somehow nurture pleasant gleeful melodies into stomping pulsing electronic sensations.

DELUXE is a true mastering of nuanced elements that results in a fairly unique sounding album that exists in that strange universe where Kraftwerk stringent rhythms , Neu!'s hypnotic groove and "Cluster's Sowieso" dreaminess merged into one seamless entity. Despite the nerdy electronic precision dominating any given moment, the album is polished with outstandingly strong, catchy hooks that have an air of Berlin School progressive electronic simmered into a steaming hot pot of tasty electro-Krautrock. DELUXE shows the possibilities and positive results of a supergroup and how collaborative efforts can bring out the strengths of the members on board instead of watered down infighting. It sounds as if HARMONIA should have found some sort of cross-over success with this one but the band soon ended after this one and although they would participate in some recording sessions with Brian Eno, those sessions wouldn't be released until the 90s. Personally i much prefer this second HARMONIA album over the monochromatic ambience of the debut.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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