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Hoelderlin - Clowns & Clouds CD (album) cover

CLOWNS & CLOUDS

Hoelderlin

 

Prog Folk

3.56 | 58 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

With their third album C&C, Hoelderlin tried to have a conceptual album with one side dedicated to clowns and the others to clouds, and this album came less than a year after their second eponymous second album. By now, one of the Kaseberg brothers had gone and the other was responsible for the stage sound. So down to just one set of brothers (with Joachim still the main songwriter - but not the sole anymore - and responsible of the artwork), newcoming Hans Br is more than just a gap-filler. But this album is vastly inferior to the previous two, partly IMHO due to the shared songwriting.

Opening track Madhouse is already failing to develop the exact feeling that the title announces as they timidly try to get crazy, but either not really daring to or not being capable of. The next track, Your Eyes is one fairly weak track, but not completely without charm. The three-part mini-suite closing the Clown side is finally developing a bit more the "Circus" feeling, partly because of the opening Tango Mili section, but Marching is clearly uninventive (gladly quickly dealt away with) and the main theme Sensations saving it from disaster but eyeing a bit too much Genesis. Even though Joachim Grumbkow gets help from Noppeney (violin) and the lyrics from his brother, clearly he was out of ideas and it cruelly shows here. Not that the music is bad, but when comparing to their previous work.... it even hurts to write it as an outsider!

The second "Cloud" side is definitely under Br's influences, and clearly is the better-inspired one. As you'd expect the tracks are more aerial, celestial, airy and .... water-ey! The slow developing Streaming is one of two highlights on this album, finally taking the album somewhere and thankfully stays within the usual Hoelderlin trademark-sounds. The 12-min Phasing is again a slow starter with the electric piano slowly giving way to a violin, while that slow crescendo is taking its importance slowly leading towards the clouds. Whereas on the previous excellent album, the density of the composition was remarkable, clearly on this album, the better moments are when the music is sparse and not as encumbered. Another hint at this album being inferior to its predecessors is the fact that conny plank only engineered it, but was not producing it.

As one might fear with this kind of conceptual sides of a single album, there is a very schizophrenic feel to the album, which is enhanced with the Cd (as opposed to the vinyl where the album played A or B and your choosing of playing the other side), clearly highlighting the album's weakness. Not really up to par with the previous two album, this one is not completely devoid of charm and quality (mostly the second Cloud side), but do not expect the same kind of gratification from it. Still worth a spin.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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