INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Mojo APRIL 2020 - by Ian Harrison
HANS-JOACHIM ROEDELIUS AND HARMONIA
It began with a knock on the door and a jam. It ended when rehearsals got to be a drag.
HELLO: EARLY 1973
Mobi [AKA Dieter Moebius] and I were in a house in Forst in the midst of Germany, very busy in doing our own situation as Cluster. The house was medieval, old enough - in former times they were brewing beer there, and they made laws for the inhabitants of the region. When we went there, we had to build everything ourselves. We had no toilet at first, we had to shit in a trash bin and bring it outside! But it was very beautiful, the situation, beside the river Weser - which was polluted - but it looked very nice.
The first day, Michael Rother came, he appeared in our community, to try and find out if Cluster and Neu! could do a supergroup. But we didn't want to do that, so the idea came up to found Harmonia beside Cluster. We first played live together when we had a little festival in the meadow outside the house. It worked out very well, so it was very easy to say, let's try it really. Michael left Neu! to make Harmonia - [for the Neu! 75 LP] the material was already there. When they finished, he definitely played only with us, he didn't play anymore with Klaus [Dinger, Neu! drummer].
When he saw how beautiful the place was, he wanted to stay with us, and he moved from Düsseldorf. The kitchen and bathroom was communal, the sleeping room and living room were for each of us. There was a very nice, small bordello nearby, part of a restaurant, which existed for I think one year after Michael moved. There were two girls only, we played with them billiards, because almost nobody came, really very seldom.
Of course, ja, in the beginning it was really nice. We didn't like to rehearse. We only played. We wanted to stay at our principle - improvisation! And you know, it worked very well. We had a little studio, and Michael liked to do [1974 album] Musik Von Harmonia, because it was a beginning, and there was no problem to do that. We still behaved like Cluster. When we toured as Harmonia, in Europe, the principle changed to Michael's imagination, how Harmonia should work or behave.
GOODBYE: LATE 1976
The last day came because, with Harmonia, we had too much rehearsal. As Cluster, to play always the same stuff... that was not our thing. Musik Von Harmonia is more or less a Cluster album - only the second album, Deluxe , is a real Harmonia album, meaning also that it's a Michael Rother thing, not a Cluster thing anymore. Deluxe, it's all structured and fixed, and lyrics, of course. There's not much space for improvisation. I only can say that we were not able to play all this Deluxe material live.
When the record was out, the door was open to finish the project. It ended naturally, I can't remember if we had a meeting about it. But then Brian Eno brought us together again, and Harmonia awoke to life again. We met him once in Hamburg, in '74, when we jammed, and we said, "Please, Brian, come and see us in our studio!" So Brian came to our situation by the river. He stayed with us for about ten days - the recording was nice, broken by going to the forest, cutting wood, bringing wood for the wintertime, walking in the fields. We had some really fun, it was not always working. I think this Harmonia and Eno [later released as Tracks And Traces] is a very beautiful record. There was no overdubbing, nothing, just the pure material. Cluster continued to work with him afterwards, and Conny [Plank, producer of Deluxe], who was the third member of Cluster, was a main part in that game as well.
After that Harmonia really was finished, it was a nice part to end. It worked out, the story was over. We played in 2007 when someone got us to a festival again and we played again together, but it didn't work really nice - everybody stood beside the other but we didn't really get it together! There's a YouTube thing of it? Oh, I have to look at it. Michael is still in Forst, there's a studio and he's living there - he has all the rooms now!