When I heard that an album of unreleased Harmonia material was coming out I was really beside myself with excitement but when I found out it was to be part of a box set containing albums I already owned at a cost way beyond my budget, I was gutted. So when I found out it was getting a release on the ultimate budget-friendly format, cassette (with a free download), the excitement kicked back in.
So what do you get? Its short and sweet. The first side begins with a new song, side two begins with an alternative version of “Deluxe” and both end with an extended jam from an early concert. At fifteen minutes per side, it never outstays its welcome.
The new song, “Tiki-Taka” sounds so much classic Harmonia that for a while I convinced myself it was an alternative version of something off “Deluxe”. It isn’t but is so clearly flowing from the same river that it would make a natural bonus track for a reissue. The alternative version of “Deluxe” is recognisable but different enough to merit your attention.
The real gold, though, is the live songs. I was always a bit underwhelmed by the Harmonia live album from a few years ago but these recordings are far more dynamic. Rother is letting rip with his guitar, the electronics are both hypnotic and out there while there appears to be a tight rhythm to both jams, with someone (Mani from Guru Guru perhaps?) letting rip on the drums around a rapid, pulsing (digital?) bass. It feels like truest collision of Neu! With Cluster. Not that the Harmonia studio albums aren’t wonderful but there they seem keen to leave their pasts behind for new worlds. Here we have a genuine distillation of their back catalogues.
The tape does come with a download code but the mp3s provided are at a low resolution of 192kbs so you do need either this cassette or the vinyl to be able to enjoy the music properly. Yes, haters, cassettes are far better sound quality than 192kbs mp3s. Speaking of sound quality, on here it is just great for both studio and live material. You know already what I am going to say – its essential. Thirty minutes of finest German vintage for your listening pleasure.