Harmonia – Live 1974 (2005, Grönland)
Having grown up in the wake of World War II and come of age during the Wirtschaftswunder, it should perhaps come as a little surprise that a slew of groundbreaking musical groups emerged from Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. Just as the country itself lay in ruins, German culture did not emerge from the war unscathed. The home of Göthe, Kant, Bach, Beethoven, et al. had in some way, been tainted by the poison of national socialism. Paraphrasing his friend Bertolt Brecht, Theodor Adorno claimed that “the palace of German Culture was built of dogshit.” Recognizing the glaring contradiction between culture, the enlightenment, and the inheritance of a continent in ruins, the immediate postwar generation sought to break with their forefathers and craft a new culture all their own. Of the German kosmiche groups which appeared during this period, Harmonia stand out, no small feat when considering Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Popul Vuh, Faust, Amon Düül, and Tangerine Dream are among those on a long list of contemporaries. While countless bootlegs and live recordings have been passed to and fro on the vast plains of the internet, this official release by Grönland is a treat and captures the band at their apex. The live setting affords the group greater latitude to really let the tunes breath. “Veterano” clocking in at a tame four minutes on Musik Von Harmonia is an exploratory 18 minute jam retitled “Veteranissimo” on Live 1974. Beyond the confines of the studio and the limits of a formal LP release, the extended jamming on Live 1974 allows the band to bring their tracks to life and carry the listener off to some distant world. Harmonia’s freewheeling brand of electronic psychedelia in general and this release, in particular, is a must for any fan of psychedelic rock, ambient music, electronic, sound art, and the like.