Harmonia 76 — Tracks and Traces
(Rykodisc RCD 10428, 1976/1997, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2000-05-01
1976 was a transitional year where Brian Eno changed his context for working with electronics to an ambient perspective. This was due in part to his meeting with synthesizer duo Cluster (Moebius and Roedelius), with whom he would later record two albums. This collaboration with Michael Rother was one where tone and atmosphere were as important as actually playing a single note on a keyboard or guitar. This explains the lack of rhythmic development across the album's nine pieces. The opening piece, "Vamos companeros," is a rackety rework of the backing track for "No One Receiving" from Eno's Before and After Science. The tempo has been slowed down and dark treatments performed on the song, which alters the complexion dramatically. Eno's role is not as leader since his contributors were already working together as Harmonia for two albums prior to this. Instead he adds bass, and synth although it's difficult to determine who is playing what on which track. "Luneburg Heath" is the lone vocal track which describes a location where you obviously don't want to get lost, while "Almost" is the most calming and serene piece on the disc. Also included is an early version of "When Shade Was Born," which would later surface in full pastel arrangement on After the Heat. 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 as any techno project if only for the strength of the collaboration and the blurring of egos.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more