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Midnight Circus - Midnight Circus CD (album) cover


Midnight Circus


Prog Folk

4.05 | 3 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Apart from Krautrock, electronic/space rock and symphonic prog, Germany in the 1970s was home to a surprising number of folk acts. Some, like HOELDERLIN, eventually evolved to sound more like GENESIS, while others, like OUGENWEIDE, retained a distinct connection to their roots. MIDNIGHT CIRCUS was a duo that bridged the psychedelia, pastoral folk rock, and symphonic prog that closed out the 1960s. They sadly released only one album and haven't reunited like so many others, at least not yet.

The overall mood is ponderously pastoral, driven by strummed acoustic guitar, recorder, and at times soaring vocal harmonies. The opening track "The Light" encapsulates all of these qualities, with a mystical melody that successfully sidesteps cliches. "I Had a Dream" starts as a vivacious HOLLIES/KINKS mix before the tempo moderates dramatically and mellotron strings assert themselves. Ultimately, it's on the pulpit of "November Church" that MIDNIGHT CIRCUS stakes its claim to any notoriety beyond mere obscurity. Almost 9 minutes of Gothic bliss, it's a deranged Teutonic "California Dreamin", complete with morose choral parts, shrill trumpet, martial guitars and drums, and even a segment dedicated to the sermon of the month. Not quite a suite and not quite an epic, it's an exemplary piece of prog folk that is both adventurous and accessible.

Other highlights include the ballad "Disappointed Love" that turns more aggressive in the breaks, and the Latin American inflected instrumental "Indian Impression". "Meditation" is another showcase for Christian Bollman's pulmonary prowess, presaging the work of artists like R CARLOS NAKAI by some years. Only "Mr Clown" and the two bonus tracks find the artists adopting hippy pop conventions, if you will.

It's still gratifying to discover worthwhile artists from so long ago and to illuminate their names in neon if only for a proverbial quarter hour. While most everything on the original release hovers between 3 and 4 stars, I am going to round up for the preeminent "November Church", and also because this act manages to be both "out there" and balanced without really trying.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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