Harmonious Thelonious, Listen

Joe Muggs

By Joe Muggs

on 02.03.12 in Reviews


Harmonious Thelonious

Harmonious Thelonious are a dance geek’s dream, so rich is their music in resonances and intermingling echoes. In “Argwöhnische Muziek,” the track that opens Listen, you might hear the melodic patterns of West African highlife guitars echoed in tumbling synthetic pianos, Terry Riley’s minimalist compositions in its phased repetitions, or the cosmicChicago house music of Jamal Moss (aka Hieroglyphic Being) in its raw production tics and relentlessly funky drum programming. Or perhaps you might think “A.O.,” later in the album, recalls both the distorted thumb pianos of Congolese troupe Konono No.1 and the most nihilistically druggy mid ’90s European techno. Or maybe you will think of none of these things. This is music so immediate, so obviously full of wild abandon, that you could never have heard an electronic record before yet still be swept up by its momentum.

A dance geek’s dream

Listen, then, speaks not of history or geography but of bodies moving wildly, of giddy intoxication and repetition way past the point of reason. It’s trance music in a way that the modern genre of trance could never be, narcotic in itself rather than a neatly designed accompaniment for narcotics. It feels as if Stefan Schwander, the twisted mind behind Harmonious Thelonious, rather than making self-conscious “fusions” of styles has isolated a common essence shared by hypnotic forms from across cultures. It’s music for rumpus and ruckus, both cosmic and very earthy indeed. It’s strong medicine and won’t be for everyone, but if you have a taste for raw and unpredictable grooves, this is an absolute must.