Walter Samuel: Abridged analytical notes on the film music of Klaus Harmony
Walter Samuel is professor of musicology at Hamburg’s Erma Schultz Musikakademie. He is a frequent contributor to Das Neuen Musik Wörterbuch and lives with his partner Luis in an attractive waterside development.
Another Day, Another Friend, 1971
A keen proponent of the palindromic form, Friedrich Wohlfäht ends Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival in the same setting as its opening titles. Focusing on Lora’s return from the countryside and her rural affair, the closing montage inter-cuts slow motion footage of her tender experiences with images of the metropolis to which she is returning. Klaus Harmony’s response to the sequence was a breathtakingly simple and fine piece featuring a moog ostinato on the tonic chord throughout. The composer believed it to be his best music to date and called it “an expression of humankind’s capacity to defy uncertainty”. Wohlfäht thought it a work of genius and felt certain it would achieve recognition as such. Eventual disappointment followed however; the composition never became widely known other than for its use in a corporate presentation film for Spaldeve PLC, a Danish company selling time shares in Sweden.
Bearder Wearder, 1971
One of the themes central to Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival was that of sophisticated urbanity contrasted with the simplicity of rural life. In their trip to the countryside the girls and boys decide to split up and we follow their respective encounters. Whereas the boys are seduced by the older women of the village, the girls discover a simple farm boy whose innocence they find irresistible. Klaus Harmony was asked by Wohlfäht to somehow allude to inbreeding with the underscore and the composer obliged with the hoedown inspired Bearder Wearder.
Blue Lagoon, 1977
With two talented swimmers among the cast of The Ladies Man in Jürgen Klampf and Lola Schlipp, Friedrich Wohlfäht was keen to experiment with underwater photography. Overcoming technical difficulties, the director was able to complete almost forty seconds of footage with the actors. The scene in question framed the protagonist’s reverie of absolute sexual freedom and Klaus Harmony embodied the desired sense of liberation, employing phasing techniques and Eastern elements to accompany the slow motion editing.
Can You See Me From Over There?, 1980
Shave & Shine provoked such a positive response in Killer Tits that Futafusion were keen to repeat the success in Schaften Lieben. However, whereas the powerful Shave & Shine has such emotional currency, Can You See Me is lacking and fails to convince on any level other than the aesthetic, drawing accusations of callowness.
Chenois (Main Theme), 1973
With Die Sins des Apostles having defined his output, Friedrich Wohlfäht was eager to demonstrate breadth and with Chenois ( 1973), Futafusion were prepared to give him license to explore creative avenues. Taking its first step where Wundercrotchen (1970) finished up, Chenois steers its path closer to the arc of the classic crime thriller. Shifting emphasis subtly, the former sees one shooting for each sexual encounter and in this movie there is one erotic moment for every two violent episodes. The protagonist is a detective, albeit inexpert, who possesses what women regard as a disarming comportment. The car chase culminating in Chenois crashing into his own house is unparalleled. Klaus Harmony’s music also expands on compositional issues raised in his score for Wundercrotchen. Isaac Hayes reputedly asked to sit in on sessions for the soundtrack of Chenois to reconsider his own methods.
Cloakroom I – Hey, You Should Learn To Knock, 1970
Though a scene of corresponding content exists in Wundercrotchen, the piece of music bearing this title is actually from another scene on the film altogether. In establishing the character of Arnold, a police detective with an outmoded morality, we watch him as he conducts undercover surveillance of a traveling salesman who cons women into buying counterfeit goods before seducing them. The musical style here demonstrates the composer at his strongest; confident, ambitious, and skillfully manipulating musical material across multiple cues for ultimate musical and dramatic effect.
Coy Moves II – Cum Thither, 1980
Klaus Harmony did not engage with the subject matter or style of Schaften Lieben and turned out a less than satisfying score by his own standards. Coy Moves II transcends the prevailing quality of the work, however, and proved influential to American musicians and producers such as Dave Grusin and Quincy Jones who visited Harmony while working on the track in 1979.
Cycling Teens in Love, 1971
In sharp contrast to the opening cue of Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival in the form of Mother Thrust, Cycling Teens in Love, explores the happy freedoms enjoyed by the young people of the countryside. Wohlfäht portrays this with a sequence in which young friends enjoying a bicycle ride, venture into a barn, seeking shelter from a storm. The outcome is an unforeseen and intensely sensual interlude in which the two explore each other’s sexuality, sheltered in a haystack. This is beautifully underscored by Klaus Harmony’s employment of an extensive ‘Utrecht Walze’ or ‘Utrecht Roller’ over some 64 bars. Notably, the piece also features an exquisitely executed electric guitar obbligato by Heino Hoffmann.
Dealing With The Fuzz, 1975
Klaus Harmony preferred to adhere to a contemporary style for this section of Who Needs Dialogue? which sees a group of girl scouts from turn of the century Vienna avoiding the policemen who have found the device which allows them to travel to 1975. The composer observed an interesting convention which only makes use of silent movie style piano cues for sections set in the 1970’s. For the Edwardian sequences, he conversely (and perhaps one should say perversely) employs the sound world of 1975 by way of rhythm guitar and moog synthesizer. One interesting trick of aural semiotics is the employment of alternating muted and open triangle in the percussion section, subliminally suggesting the genre of law enforcement themed drama.
Dub Down Dirty, 1974
During the recording of the 1974 instrumental album Brown On Brown, a period referred to by Godfrey Gilliam as Klaus Harmony’s ‘lost fortnight’, the composer became friendly with James Last and Brian Eno, often exhibiting uncharacteristically decadent behaviour. Famously, and perhaps apocryphally, the trio was escorted from a grand Viennese hotel after painting every alternate key of the Bösendorfer grand piano in their suite with red nail polish. It was also at this time that Klaus was introduced to British actor and singer, Dennis Waterman, who was considering the composer as producer for his next album. The two became close and during a recording session, following a few drinks, the actor began to speak of the ‘darkness within’, a theme with which Klaus identified closely. It was this which inspired the soulful, quasi-Baroque Dub Down Dirty, the melody of which is thought to have been suggested by Waterman who was also a blossoming composer in his own right.
Elektrische Lippen, 1969
Significant in terms of a cinema debut for both director and composer, Elektrische Lippen draws from the spirit of liberation, both of women and sexual behaviour. The film depicts the sweet young generation of Amsterdam at ease with itself and its apparently abundant needs. More innocent than many of its successors, the score radiates the cool and erotic optimism of late-sixties Europe by way of funk ostinati and obligato wah-wah passages.
Friedrich Wohlfäht’s response to charges of intellectualism in Die sins des Apostles was 1975’s Who Needs Dialogue?, an allegorical tale of time travel and dual identity in which a shy, modern-day civil servant, travels back through time to turn of the century Vienna where he assumes the life of a lothario. With dialogue conspicuously absent, and a visual approach pointedly referencing the silent movie era, Klaus Harmony was given leave to explore through-composition, alternating between Edwardian parlour melodies and contemporary styles. Ejaculaktor underscores the sequence in which the protagonist is pursued back to 1970’s Netherlands by his lovers, their having discovered his means of traversing the intervening decades. This sequence is often cited as being Wohlfäht’s most erotic work, with accompanying music intense, cyclical and exquisitely mesmeric. Here the composer turns to the American minimalists whose experiments in repetition challenged conventional relationships between musical gestures and time. The Berlin Cabaret-style spoken passages (recited by Freda Weiss) are all but the only moments of speech in the piece, and, thereby, lend a powerful sensuality to the moment where the time traveller, lost in a reverie and seduced by his own ephemeral powers of seduction, is finally overwhelmed by a dozen Edwardian girl scouts.
Evil Blows the Wind, 1981
The final film of the Wohlfäht/Harmony collaboration, and the least likely to stir unanimous affection, was fraught with ominous moments throughout its creation and, it is argued, led to the death of its maker. A supernatural tome, Die Sexorcist portrays an eighteenth century priest who travels the countryside exorcising young virgins and older virgins alike with a ‘holy rod’. He extracts evil spirits inhabiting the women and, in exchange, injects goodness. Eventually his righteous resources are spent and all that remains in the pastor is pure evil. This culminates in a disturbing but thrilling denouement involving worms and boiling wax as he is consumed by the devil in the form of a naked woman carrying the ‘satanic lash’. Overwhelmed by the subsequent death of his colleague, Klaus Harmony declined to release the soundtrack and it was not until 2007 that his son, Helmut, felt able to include pieces of the score on the Oeuvre series. Evil Blows the Wind achieves a delicate balance of the gothic and discotheque styles, and is a testament to the last great work of a formidable partnership.
As though reluctant to leave the old decade behind, Friedrich Wohlfäht fought with his distributors to include in Schaften Lieben a scene which involved an eastern mystic high priest, imparting the wisdom of an ancient tome, presumably intended to be the Karma Sutra. Since his Kinky Roosevelt days, Klaus Harmony had been receptive to eastern philosophies and when Wohlfäht requested an extended piece to underscore the scene he responded in earnest. While in the throws of composing the piece, Harmony began searching for a chant which he could incorporate, asking everyone he knew for suggestions. During a business trip to Birmingham in the UK, he dined at the Golden Star Tandoori where a waiter shared with him an ancient chant which, he informed the composer, would bring great luck. A napkin which Harmony brought home with him bore the scribbled refrain, “Um Ba Wakka Mungo Bungo/Um Ba Wakka Um Ba Ja.” Klaus paid for the waiter to fly to the Netherlands and perform the on the recording. On the date of the scheduled session, however, the waiter failed to arrive and the chant was never recorded. The motif to which the words were to be sung remains in Finger-Oh!, nonetheless.
Fugue der Liebe (Fugue of Love), 1972
With 1972’s Die Sins des Apostles, Friedrich Wohlfäht turned his attention to questions of theism and its relationship with sexual mores, the film’s essential premise being that god could only be better known through union with other mortals, whoever they be. To that end he surmised that the existence of the apostles during Christ’s latter days would, necessarily, have assumed a more sexual dynamic culminating in a ‘total confluence of souls’ by means of mass fornication. Klaus Harmony’s inevitable answer to this in musical terms was to be contrapuntal in texture. In a reduced form, Fugue der Liebe amply demonstrates this, showing at the same time his genius for more complex manipulation of musical material.
Gay Showers Punch Up Montage, 1971
Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival saw the emergence of some new stylistic strands in Klaus Harmony’s work. He and director, Friedrich Wohlfäht had discussed the idea of echoing rhythmic elements – suggested or otherwise – in the action. ‘Gay Showers’ features a fine example of such a rhythmic motif which appears, in palindromic fashion, at the beginning and end of the track. The director was eager to explore some of the issues surrounding gay shower practices and there is still some debate as to whether the composer’s basic rhythmic cell here represents a heartbeat or merely bum sex.
Get Off Marta, I Don’t Dig You, 1971
Not until The Ladies Man (1977) did Friedrich Wohlfäht again devise such a fresh and inventive opening sequence as that of Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival (1971). Consisting entirely of one rear facing shot which follows Filbert (Jenk Falstaff) swaggering through the streets of Utrecht, the first three minutes sees the ‘Albino Casanova’ greeting acquaintances and wooing dozens of young women while trying to rid himself of the ugly girl who makes increasingly desperate attempts to attract his attention. Indeed, alarming though the character’s appearance was at first viewing, it was not long before white afro hair and a white three piece suit, along with the distinctive red eye patch, became a much coveted look among the young men of northern Europe. The music is joyous, Klaus Harmony, possibly at his finest and most original, employing antiphonal, interlocking rhythms and an audacious combination of saxophone and Moog synthesizer in one of his most ebullient melodies.
Gut Entwickelte Hinterteile, 1969
It was early in Klaus Harmony’s film scoring career that the practice of ‘symphonic Zerteilung’ or ‘symphonic fragmentation’ was established whereby a thematic gesture or cell cross permeates distinct compositions, establishing homogeneity. Gut Entwickelte Hinterteile makes subtle allusions to Elektrische Lippen just as Nicht Stoppen, Nicht Stoppen, Nicht Stoppen alludes to Gut Entwickelte. Later, most notably in Die Sins des Apostles, the composer developed hierarchical structures of reference so as to determine a contextual pecking order, a practice later adopted by Karleinz Stockhausen, albeit without acknowledgement.
Herbie’s Cock, 1977
The Ladies Man was widely seen as the blossoming of Wohlfäht’s style. The same may be said of the film’s score, one critic in particular having likened it to Mozart’s Haffner Symphony, marking the emergence of an early mature style. From this point, Harmony was often referred to as ‘Mozart of Porn’. Herbie’s Cock provides the central motivic material of the score, making use of regular, repetitive rhythmic pulses, presumably emphasizing the movie protagonist’s libidinous temperament. No less significant is the use of a new instrument known as the ‘Wellenform-Einbrecher’ which employed early sampling technology as a means of emulating acoustic instruments. The pseudo brass section is provided by the Einbrecher here to interesting effect. Note also the influence of Disco.
Herbie, Yes!, 1977
While Jesus, You Really Do Mean Diamonds Don’t You? and Blue Lagoon represent a more exotic compositional direction during the scoring of The Ladies Man, Herbie, Yes!, along with Herbie’s Cock and Who’s That Guy?, satisfied the commercial need of Judd Discs and Futafusion along with the tastes of the public. Herbie, Yes! was widely known on the disco dance floors of the UK and Germany, having appeared on a children’s party compilation, renamed Herbie The Bear.
Hi, Doctor, 1977
With The Ladies Man (1977), came what is widely regarded as Wohlfäht and Harmony’s seminal output. The director returned to a generic format and made use of its conventions to challenge expectation. The film pokes gentle fun at establishment figures and, early in the movie, the medical fraternity is lampooned. Here an eminent physician is overrun by young women while examining the female protagonist, disguised as a middle-aged ambassador’s wife. The score purposefully eschews the humour and provides a light, almost perfunctory, mood.
Jesus, You Really Do Mean Diamonds Don’t You?, 1977
The strand of The Ladies Man concerning a jewel robbery proved exciting to Klaus Harmony, as the diamond at the centre of the plot originated in Golconda, India; the composer was particularly receptive to Eastern philosophies and relished the opportunity to explore Indian music. Jesus, You Really Do Mean Diamonds Don’t You? gave Harmony precisely this occasion, underscoring the moment when the protagonist of the film takes his mistress, Katrien, to the museum exhibiting the Galconda diamond. She experiences a spiritual epiphany, her consciousness fragmenting like light deflected by the precious stone; and in a state of vivid arousal she marches Herbie to a janitor’s closet where she makes him swear to deliver the diamond to her before ravishing him.
Meet Miss Jozette, 1978
Though by no means abandoning some stylistic traits of The Ladies Man, Wohlfäht’s next film, Meet Miss Jozette, saw a return to his truer artistic style of eroticism as social commentary. Observing what he believed to be a parallel between lesbianism and cannibalism, he set about portraying the allegorical figure of Miss Jozette [Natale Moretti], an Amsterdam party hostess who discovers the pleasures of eating the men she sleeps with and sharing the flesh with her female lover. Eventually her lover [Ulla Weißhorn] is overcome with lust for her mentor and, in a moment of confusion, eats her instead of the ‘man prey’ imprisoned in their cellar. One weak point is the inclusion of the character Chenois from the 1973 movie of the same name, in an effort to achieve homogeneity. The soundtrack is a return to the more artful style of Wundercrotchen and Brustwarze Karnival and represents some of Klaus Harmony’s purest ‘Ars funka’.
Mr No More Nice Guy, 1980
In an effort to imitate the vapid exuberance of Chip Jenssen’s ‘California Gold’ movies, distributor, Futafusion and record label, Judd Discs, offered to pay for Friedrich Wohlfäht and Klaus Harmony to take a short sabbatical in LA to meet with their west coast counterparts. Instead of adhering to the intensive schedule of meetings and lunches set up for him, however, Klaus eloped with Harold Faltermeyer and, for fourteen days, did little but play ping pong in his friend’s infamously well equipped Malibu games room. Upon his return to Europe, he began work on the score for Schaften Lieben and produced uninspired work by his own standards, but fashioned a style which made a significant impression upon Hollywood composers such as Randy Edelman and Dave Grusin. Mr No More Nice Guy underscores a montage in which Bamber, portrayed by Jurgen Klampf, endeavours to cuckold each of his business enemies, either one by one, or in groups where circumstances permit. Futafusion insisted on beach scenes and surfing shots which Wohlfäht found a challenge to shoot convincingly on the coast of Den Haag in October.
Mother Thrust, 1971
Friedrich Wohlfäht seized the opportunity in 1971’s Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival to turn away from conventional male perspectives and employed a marked use of irony in depicting contemporary women, making use of split screen techniques to highlight two disparate female paradigms – the new emancipated woman, comfortable with and in command of her own sexual motivations; the other, an outmoded vision of domesticity with accelerated footage of a rural housewife baking and chopping vegetables. The exquisite ironic twist is that even the representation of woman as domestic servant is realized largely in the nude. Klaus Harmony’s approach here is to underscore the conventional sex action with an intense, languorous backdrop. The housebound scenes are accompanied by frenzied rhythmic passages which build to such ferocity that the sole means of introducing new material is to come to a full stop.
Nicht Stoppen, Nicht Stoppen, Nicht Stoppen, 1969
While establishing a footing for the distribution of Elektrische Lippen in 1969, Futafusion were keen to set their sights high in terms of casting. Consummate British actor, Anthony Booth, was singled out as a fitting leading man for the promising new Friedrich Wohlfäht, and Klaus Harmony worked briefly with Booth on the proposed theme song for the movie, Wonderful Kiss, Marvelous Eyes. The actor pulled out of the film, however, when it transpired that his fee was higher than the budget for the film itself. Nicht Stoppen, like its brass-dominated counterpart, Lips Electric, epitomizes the zeitgeist, cool and detached, bearing early signs of Klaus Harmony’s keyboard led ‘Ars funka’ which proved so seminal in the following decade.
Poor Unsuspecting Girls, 1981
Friedrich Wohlfäht was able to depict in Die Sexorcist what Bram Stoker’s Dracula could only address by way of allegory: the powerful sexuality of the occult and Satanism. Here each new convent girl is seduced and inhabited by Lucifer, the only antidote to which is Fr. Franz, an itinerant priest who is able with his ‘holy rod’ to dispel the evil within. Again Klaus Harmony turns to JS Bach for inspiration, thereby lending a pious tone to the soundtrack.
Radio Waves (Bad Trip Section), 1980
The composer’s fascination with Eastern musical modes and practices came to the fore with this cue from Schaften Lieben which underscores a drug-induced reverie on the part of a mystical priest and his young companion. It is thought that despite the enthusiasm of Futafusion and Judd Discs for this synthesis of Western and Eastern sounds, a style they thought both adventurous and commercially exploitable, the composer himself thought the result less than remarkable and something of a cul-de-sac in aesthetic terms. Indeed he expressed some surprise that Peter Gabriel was not able to get a similar compositional inclination out of his system somewhat sooner.
Rear View Lover, 1980
Wohlfäht’s 1980 offering, Schaften Lieben, shows signs of commercial pressure being brought to bear on the filmmaker by his distributor, Futafusion. The corporation was undoubtedly impressed by the box office success of Californian director, Chip Jenssen. Possibly disheartened by interference from Futafusion, Wohlfäht’s approach here is significantly more exploitative than in his earlier films, and the music, in turn, lacks the resonance of sincerity. Some interesting Harmony hallmarks remain, however, and the use of retrograde statements of the principal theme in Rear View Lover corresponds to pleasing effect with the allegorical twist in the title which refers, not only to sexual orientations of a posterior attitude, but the tale of a woman taking a retrospective glance over her unsuccessful love affairs.
Rubber Love-In, 1977
Atypically for the world of cinema, this is the one musical piece by Klaus Harmony which never made it to the final edit of a film. Wohlfäht had originally intended to include in The Ladies Man (1977) a sequence in which a magistrate acquits a female car thief, allowing her instead to join him in his ‘rubber dungeon’. It transpired some time after the film’s release that distributor, Futafusion’s board of directors included a magistrate. The music to accompany the scene has, sadly, never been appeared on any release until HarmonSink included it on the first volume of Oeuvre.
Rumpenmeister Cue #5, 1982
It was a source of some regret to Klaus Harmony that he should have accepted the offer to score Chip Jenssen’s Rumpenmeister. Despite obsequious overtures from the ‘California Gold’ director, the creative process was marked by difficulties, particularly the filmmaker’s preference for the insertion of pop songs into the score, a practice which Klaus Harmony found abhorrent. Ultimately the film was scored and the soundtrack released by Judd Discs albeit without a proper title for each track. Cue #5 is, perhaps, the best of an insipid collection by the composer’s own standards, partly by virtue of its forward looking production style which foretold much of what the 1980’s had in store.
Sad Funk Lonely, 1979
Gefährliche Brüste posed its composer an apparently devastating challenge in the face of his grief and the resulting score is a testament to the artist and the man. Sad Funk Lonely, the song to accompany the closing credits of the film, was subsequently submitted by Jan Sink for the Netherlands entry to the 1980 Eurovision song contest and the judges were unanimous in selecting it. On the eve of the competition the master tapes of the recording went missing and a note was sent to the police in The Hague claiming responsibility on behalf of Fabien Mitterrand, the most notable exponent of ‘Le fraterity de Paris de la musique érotique’. Amsterdam by Maggie MacNeal was hurriedly found as a replacement and Klaus Harmony’s masterwork of catharsis was lost. Amando Ferrari included this arrangement for his 40th birthday concert in Milan and invited the composer to conduct the orchestra and the Vienna boys’ choir. The recording, which picked up the sounds of the concert’s fireworks display, captures the emotional tenor of the occasion and has become the definitive performance.
Schaften Lieben, 1980
Friedrich Wohlfäht did not respond well to the demands of distributor, Futafusion and his penultimate movie, Schaften Lieben (1980), is a weary effort. At times, Harmony too sounds rather less than enthused and the title track fails to ignite the imagination of the listener in quite the way of Fugue der Liebe or even Elektrische Lippen, instead relying on motifs and gestures the style of which might conceivably, have come from Die Brustwarze Karnival, though lacking either that score’s charm or ingenuousness. One might draw a parallel with the divertimenti which populate Mozart’s middle period, written much less for the audience and more to appeal to the patron’s vanity.
Shave & Shine, 1979
Much has been written in terms of biographical background to Killer Tits (Gefährliche Brüste) and not without good reason. For Klaus Harmony to have agreed to score a movie depicting the death of his own fourth wife is the instinct of an uncompromising artist indeed. The tenderness of Shave & Shine is its most laudable virtue, with percussion subtly invoking images of his wife, Lola, grooming herself. A fretless bass obbligato lovingly depicts the elegance of the actress in her boudoir. Certainly, less tender moments appear in the score and it is in these, perhaps, where Harmony’s integrity is most impressive. This piece continues to stand, however, among the more enduring passages of the soundtrack and it is, conceivably, because of the affection it engenders.
Shut Up Shirley, 1980
Friedrich Wohlfäht’s distributor, Futafusion, were anxious for the 1980 feature Schaften Lieben to respond to the American market and take the stylistic lead of Chip Jenssen’s ‘California Gold’ movies. Shut Up Shirley was a direct response to the distributor’s request for a more misogynistic approach to women characters, much to the chagrin of Wohlfäht, a noted feminist. Klaus Harmony was also under pressure to yield to commercial considerations and so included a vocoder in this piece. It is interesting to note that KH had commissioned a similar technology of Jerrick Vander in 1970 known as ‘Singenroboter-Filter-Maschine’. The composer never used the device, thinking it crude and having a personal dislike for the android form after witnessing his mother, Lotte Schmidt, playing scenes with the Tin Man in a short adult remake of the Wizard of Oz [Die Grosse Schwanz der Zauberer, 1953].
Silicon Grenade, 1979
How Friedrich Wohlfäht introduced the notion of a film depicting Lola Schlipp’s death to her grieving husband is a matter for some speculation. Whatever the director’s approach, it was ultimately successful, Klaus Harmony agreeing to provide a score for 1979’s Gefährliche Brüste, apparently without hesitation. As much as Silicon Grenade seems determined to establish a mood of happy celebration (Schlipp and sound-recordist, Dieskau, were flying to a gala honouring The Ladies Man), it is far from reticent in confronting the terror the actress presumably felt as severe changes in air pressure caused her breast implants to explode at 30,000 feet. The easy elegance of the middle section gives way to an irregular meter and astringent harmonic sequence [note the use of modes of limited transposition], propelling the listener into the moment of the explosion. Even passages of the film’s dialogue, in which Schlipp (portrayed by Suzanne Watkins-Robb) pleads with Dieskau to massage her chest, are included in the arrangement, demonstrating Klaus Harmony’s preference for truth over bland artifice.
Unholy Prayer, 1972
Wohlfäht’s controversial new testament drama, Die Sins des Apostles set a remarkable new tone in its unflinching observation of the relationship between religious and sexual practice; and Klaus Harmony’s score takes its lead from the uncompromising manner of the film. The movie is also pioneering in depicting Christ as demonstrating wrath in a sequence which features him on camelback in ferocious pursuit of a thief who has stolen Mary Magdalene’s money pouch through the street markets of Jerusalem. In a similarly bold move, Unholy Prayer underscores the scene in a contemporary idiom, paying homage to crime movies of the time.
A Visit to the Countryside, 1971
Herbie Hancock alluded to the soundtrack of 1971’s Die Grosse Brustwarze Karnival having influenced his own early 1970’s output, whilst Stevie Wonder, when asked about the genesis of his landmark LP, Talking Book, told a journalist, “Man, I just closed my eyes and made like I was Klaus Harmony.” There being no doubt as to the extent of the album’s influence, there is also much evidence of Klaus Harmony’s own musical heritage, in particular his classical training under the tutelage of Henry Bysshe. A Visit to the Countryside depicts the simplicity of rural life for its sexually emancipated youth, and, in painting a portrait of such an idyllic existence, the composer draws on the descriptive, programmatic music of both Grieg and Beethoven, weaving their motifs so seamlessly into his own that it takes more than a concerted listen to discern passages of Peer Gynt and the Pastoral Symphony.
Weiß Deine Mutter Wo Du Bist?, 1969
Changes in attitude between genders in the late sixties were not lost on Friedrich Wohlfäht and Elektrische Lippen embraced such shifting paradigms along with many key socio-political aspects of the age. The scene in which a teenage student is seduced by the wife of his principal plays deftly with the expectations of the audience, inverting the convention in dramatic terms. Klaus Harmony’s Weiß Deine Mutter Wo Du Bist? underscores Ralph’s [Dexter ‘Staniforth’ Baxter-Jeavons] reminiscence of both this first sexual encounter, and the mayhem which ensues as his school principal [Esbjörn Poskett] walks in on the illicit union. The first, adagio section of the piece pays homage to JS Bach and is rich in numerological references – though a thesis of any depth has yet to be published in this regard. The allegro, development section features the sound of a whip, performed and recorded by Jan Sink.
Where Did The Love End Up?, 1980
Given the success of Gefährliche Brüste’s Sad Funk Lonely a request for a repeat of sorts was inevitable for Schaften Lieben and came in the form of Where Did The Love End Up? It is likely that Klaus Harmony did not find the task of replicating such emotional candor an easy one but the result was laudable, particularly in the context of an otherwise pedestrian score. Again, the song is given an outstanding interpretation by Amando Ferrari, whose second wife, Natale Moretti, composed the lyric in the midst of a painful divorce from the singer, following charges of multiple bigamy and statutory rape.
Who’s That Guy?, 1977
The gentle anti-establishment sentiment of 1977’s The Ladies Man provided Friedrich Wohlfäht with the opportunity to employ a wry tone for the movie and never less so than in the strand concerning Herbie, a jewel thief who cuckolds the chairman of the bank he is about to raid. Who’s That Guy? underscores a montage including an erotic party scene at which the arch criminal liaises with his mistress, cross edited with meetings at which the heist is being planned. The sophisticated commercial style is echoed in the music which set the standard in terms of the disco style and had more than a passing influence on Hollywood TV composer Mike Post. On a technical note, The Ladies Man was originally to have been recorded using a new digital process developed by Jerrick Vander. The soundtrack was already half completed before a saboteur [thought to be acting on behalf of French composer Fabien Mitterrand] applied Bonne Maman to the record head of the tape machine, destroying the multitrack masters. With a deadline to meet, Klaus was forced to start from scratch using analogue equipment. Extraordinarily, Ry Cooder experienced almost precisely the opposite just two years later.
Wohlfäht’s sophomore opus extended his exploration of the prevailing mood of permissiveness in northern Europe by creating a pious police detective in the protagonist [Arnold] who, while determined to expose and outlaw depravity as he sees it, becomes enlightened in the ways of the newly emancipated youth. The opening titles of the movie features a brilliant ensemble dance choreographed by Gerda Smit, the director’s gym instructor. Wohlfäht was delighted by the music and routine [which became known as the ‘Wrangler Ballet’ due to the uniform costume of blue denim flares] but knew that the new idealism could be represented more viscerally. Ultimately he conceived the idea that the entirely female dance group should be topless.