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Novalis - Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown ? CD (album) cover



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3 stars One could hear changes on the horizon for Novalis with this one. No Hardenberg interpretations this time round (The somber, Mellotron-laden album-closer "Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung", however, was based on Friedrich Schiller's poem "Höffnung"), and "Manchmal fällt der Regen eben lang" borders on Kansas and AOR. And the album's "epic" centerpiece, the rather melodramatic "Vielleicht bin ich ein Clown", suffers from the same problems as "Astralis": stiff rhythms and repetitious musical constructs.

On the plus side, Detlef Job's composition "Der Geigenspieler" (a song about a street violinist, featuring a guest spot by Walter Quintus, ex-Parzival, on violin) is lively and varied, as are the two evocative instrumentals. "Zingaresca" features some of the strongest dual-guitar work since "Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hört", and "City-Nord" allows Rahn to toy effectively with various keyboard sounds and textures.

So, like BRANDUNG, about half a good album. Not essential, but fans will certainly want it. I'd say it's worth it for "Der Geigenspieler" and the instrumentals alone, but then, I'm a bit biased as this was my first ever taste of Novalis.

Neat, surrealistic Hipgnosis cover artwork on this one, too.

Report this review (#42669)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

By 1978, all prog band were required by their recording companies to forget about long suites and long trips at the bottom of the topographic oceans. So everybody , including NOVALIS have to adapt. With their precedent album BRANDUNG, the band members already made a slight turn and got a hit, the radio friendly ''IRGENDWO, IRGENDWANN''

The change of sound will go further with VIELLEICHT BIST DU EIN CLOWN? No more long suites, no more NOVALIS ,the 18th century romantic writer , poems adaptations. The music is definitely more straightforward, the Keyboards of LUTZ RAHN take definitely a back seat leaving the lead to a more rock oriented guitar from DETLEF JOB. Not that there is bad music on this album, but there is nothing that can be compared to the first 3and a half albums.The symphonic side of the band has all but vanished (almost) entirely.


Listen to the horrible MANCHMAL FALLT DER REGEN! A cheesy chorus, poor vocals, cliche AOR guitar sounding; easy to forget! I think also that the vocals of MUHLBOCK are really drownibg the album; he sounds sometimes harsh, more suited for a beer fest than for a symphonic prog band. Here and there, you can hear glimpses of the past, thanks to occasionaly tasty keyboard playing from RAHN, but that's always in the background. This album sounds like MUHLBOCK'S album; he is in the front, the other members just are like working for him.

The highlight??? Yes there!!! of course it is an instrumental, of course it is penned by RAHN; it is a 6mn keyboard- driven trip back to NOVALIS magic land, very reminiscent of what we were used in the past. Classic great NOVALIS.The last Hurrah!

But 6mns don't make an album!! 6mns of happiness versus 27 mns of forgetable music???

This is the last NOVALIS i review! they released more albums after this one, but you can guess how they sound. The songs will get even shorter in the 3-4 mn length.

Thanks anyway for 3 and a half WONDERFUL MAGICAL albums!


Report this review (#131661)
Posted Saturday, August 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Novalis was really in a category of it's own when it came to German bands of the seventies. They certainly didn't fit into the freakier Krautrock heading with their lyrical, orchestral sound with romantic laments sung in the German language. This is one of their finest recordings which appeared in 1978 and, as a function of the times, featured a more streamlined sound that nonetheless maintained their raison d'etre. Dense, multi-layered keyboards afforded many possibilities for guitarist Detlef Job to develop some catchy riffs that, although approaching commercial proportions they still maintained a certain sophistication. One track, Zingaresca, was even used as a theme song for a German television crime show Tatort ( Crime Scene ) with it's alluring main melody. Another equally evocative instrumental piece, City Nord, creates an urban musical tribute to the band's hometown of Hamburg with a repeating rhythmic theme complete with commuter train rail effects which introduce and close the piece.

The band adapted very well to the need to create shorter compositions and preserved a romantic approach to their music still doing justice to the band's namesake, the psuedonym of mystic German poet Georg Friedrich Freiherr Von Hardenburg. The 4 vocal tracks are full of meloncholy and emotion which is evident even to non-German speaking listeners by the powerful shimmering tones of vocalist Fred Mulbock ( who also provides a Focus-like flute solo on the title track ) and occasional classical motif thrown in by masterful keyboardist/composer Lutz Rahn. Musically comlpex and dynamic throughout there isn't a weak track here. The standout is most definitely the final selection Die Welt Wir Alt Und Wieder Jung ( The World Is Old & Young Again) with it's Mozart-like intro and weeping violin part played by noted German master musician Walter Quintus, who also appears on the opening track, Geigenspieler, which romanticises a struggling street musician.

A superb album which covers a lot of ground in 6 thoughtful pieces. The lineup featured here was the band's most successful and this is perhaps the most accessible of all the Novalis albums providing a taste of sevral aspects of the band in this transitory period. Along with the previous Sommerabend and Brandung, Vieleicht bist Du ein Clown? with it's thought provoking cover art by Hipgnosis is among the band's most outstanding offerings.

Report this review (#191050)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars The worse could be expected with this album, but when ''Der Geigenspieler'' is over, one has to admit that this song holds lots f the splendour that made this band so impressive with their first three albums.

The melody is fine and even the German lyrics are not so difficult to bear for this time. It is a tranquil and poetic ballad which is highlighted by a strong organ play combined with a bombastic finale full of crying guitar. A very good opener actually clocking at over eight minutes.

Although not essential, the instrumental ''Zingaresca'' remains in the good territory even if the track offers little variety. Some more enthusiasm could have been revealed but nothing wrong so far. Very much ''Camel'' oriented music is always fine to listen to.

Things get worse with the weak ''Manchmal Fällt Der Regen''. The same popish orientation that could already be felt in their previous release is hitting the fan. The chorus is hardly bearable. Some German pop-rock. Is this really needed? Huuuumm.

It is true to say that the title track (maybe you are a clown) is not a great song. On the rocking edge (which is not quite the style form the house), it features too many sung part to be attractive. Some fine (but too short) fluting is the only light from the tunnel. The shouting vocals are not an asset either but the closing guitar part is sumptuous.

While ''City Nord'' is another good instrumental track (but again, the band is not reaching their so emotional style of their debut), the peaceful closing number is thumbing again under the vocals.

I would have rated this album with three stars if it would have been sung in English. As such, two stars.

Report this review (#191119)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Fred Mühlböck arrived in time for "Brandung", and injected a masculine energy heretofore lacking in the NOVALIS sound. Unfortunately, he stunted the other group members and the subtleties of early releases. "Clown" puts them back on the right track. Finally the squawking lead guitars have found a proper context, having rung clumsy and insincere on earlier albums. The opener "Der Geigenspieler" could have come from their self titled disk, only improved upon by the group's new-found sway, although it visits for about 90 seconds too long.

Even more consequential is the venture into new territories. The quasi-title cut is preeminent, a late 1970s adaptation of classical music to a vocal rock track. The melody and vocals are stirring, and eloquent flute and lead guitar round out the triumphant delivery. "Zingaresca" is a peppy paean to CAMEL's more Latin side, while "Manchmal fällt der Regen eben lang" is prog pop of the highest order, especially in the lead guitar work. The closer "Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung" is a graceful ruminative ballad with mostly piano and voice, and radiates more empathy than any of the group's early works of questionable induction. Only the instrumental "City Nord" fails to impress, with its robotic beat and slick consistency.

NOVALIS found their authentic voice at a late hour, on their 5th disk. Four stars, no clowning around.

Report this review (#246088)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The fifth Novalis studio album, Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown? (1978), gets off to a flying start with Detlef Job's wonderful composition Der Geigenspieler. Skilfully crafted around acoustic guitar, Mellotron and string-synth, this is easily the best Novalis song since Wunderschatze. It features Job and Fred Muhlbock singing alternate sections in turn, Job's quiet pensive verses contrasting beautifully with Muhlbock's upbeat resolute choruses. The final few minutes of Der Geigenspieler find the band getting a rare chance to rock, with Lutz Rahn deserving special praise for his superb Hammond work. The album also closes strongly with Die Welt Wird Alt Und Wieder Jung, an introspective ballad that features simply piano and Mellotron (cello and strings) accompaniment. However the rest of the material here is something of a mixed bag.

The instrumental Zingaresca sounds a bit like Camel; believe it or not I can even hear a little of Santana thanks to guest percussionist Tommy Goldschmidt's congas. Job plays slide guitar on Manchmal Fallt Der Regen Eben Lang, which otherwise is a catchy pop song in the mould of Irgendwo, Irgendwahn from Brandung. Vielleicht Bin Ich Ein Clown is a touch monotonous and it doesn't feature Muhlbock singing at his best, although he does play some mean flute on this song. Lutz Rahn's composition, City-Nord, is a synthesizer-led instrumental and in my opinion is the best of the rest here. So a few tracks are of dubious quality, and while this isn't one of their best efforts it's really not that bad overall. I don't think Novalis can be written off as a prog band with this album, because the opening song in particular shows they could still produce some beautiful, mellow progressive music. 3 stars.

Report this review (#272213)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars When you really like a record is it hard do make a proper evaluation but I will try. "Novalis" is a German symphonic prog band which made some albums through the seventies and the eighties. "Vielleicht bin du ein clown?" is their fifth record(of eleven) and it's from 1978. The record is short but then was also my doubts very short about it. I can't help but love their whirling melodies and their strong and beautiful German vocals. The cover is a bit surrealistic with the girls with red and out standing hair.

We have to thank Hartwig Biereichel, the drummer, Detlef Job, the guitarist, Fred Mühlböck, the vocalist, guitarist and flautist, Lutz Rahn, the keyboardist and the bassist Heino Schünkel for their lovely efforts on this masterpiece.

Two of the songs have I heard before and the starter "Der Geigenspieler" is a progressive gem with a lot of interesting themes and structures. It is one of the band's best songsThe vocals through the whole album are so romantic and that fits the name because Novalis was also a romantic poet. Romantic prog is a great thiong to call this. On the last track "Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung" they use a poem by Friedrich Schiller. "Zingaresca" and "City-Nord" is fantastic instrumental songs which a lovely atmosphere and "Manchmal fällt der regen eben lang" is somewhat of a hit. The title track is also very attractive. The mixture of romantic feeling, the German lyrics and the pretentious progressive rock is what I love so much and that makes Novalis a favourite band.

I can really recommend you to try Novalis. It is very pleasing that they donät sing in English, I haven't understood why non-English bands use to sing in their second language. The romantic feeling this shapes fills the music of intriguing thoughts. Some prefer the earlier Novalis which I honestly haven't heard so much of. This is a perfect but a bit short album. Five stars! Best track: "Der Geigenspieler"

Report this review (#1227660)
Posted Friday, August 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is true that with this album Novalis already turned their backs to Prog, or at least to long and epic "symphonic" works. As far as I can get from interviews with band members, even long after the band actually had ceased to exist, I believe that this move was not mainly motivated by commercial concerns, but rather by the influence of singer Muehlboeck and a general shift of taste to simpler and straighter song structures. This had already started with the single "Irgendwo Irgendwann" on "Brandung", and also Novalis continued their tradition of instrumentals on "Clown" and beyond, so this was rather a gradual change than something that suddenly happened on this album.

In any case, "Vielleicht bist du ein Clown" rather qualifies as sophisticated high quality rock than as prog ("symphonic" or otherwise). Still, I'd rate this as joint best Novalis album (together with Novalis and Flossenengel) - prog or not, the music is just so good.

"Vielleicht bin ich ein Clown" ("Perhaps I'm a clown" - the album title has "you're" instead of "I'm") is my favourite Novalis song. It is a powerful dramatic song with some effective twists and a very good flute, a perfect support for Muehlboeck's voice, which has exactly the theatralic qualities needed for the interesting but direct and down-to-earth self-reflective psychological lyrics. "Der Geigenspieler" is the longest piece, a nice romantic ode to a street musician, starting in a calm and dreamy way but becoming far more dynamic, with a good contrast between the voices of the calm Job and the more dramatic Muehlboeck. "Manchmal faellt der Regen eben lang" is a rather harmless but somewhat catchy and nicely optimistic pop song, "Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung" has Muehlboeck singing a beautiful rather sad tune in a more sensitive and vulnerable mood. This is a quite successful attempt to write a classical song with a piano and violin arrangement without using rock instruments.

Then there are two instrumentals, Zingaresca more guitar- and City Nord more keyboard oriented. The tunes on which these are based are rather simple and both tracks are somewhat repetitive, but they also have their qualities; Zingaresca has a very good interplay of the two guitars and some tasteful variations of the main tune (it reminds me of some of Camel's instrumentals), and City Nord is smooth and organic and perfect for driving through nice landscapes (opposed to what its title suggests - Hamburg's City Nord is a conglomerate of high rise business buildings) with its straight rhythm (another example of "Novalis goes postrock").

So all the six songs are very pleasant and also very different from each other, and still a characteristic sound of Novalis can be made out, carried by Muehlboeck's voice, Rahn's keyboards invoking his classical influences, Job's melodic somewhat Andy Latimer-like guitar, and the rather straight rhythm section in the background without any ego-trips. The only thing to criticise is the disappointing length of below 35 minutes; nobody would have complained about more of this stuff.

Report this review (#1470071)
Posted Sunday, September 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars My P.A. colleague and good friend Kenneth Levine claims that Novalis found its voice with this album. I am not sure if I totally agree with that statement, since I still haven´t heard much of their later material, but it is clear that Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown ? is a different LP of sorts. I supposed everybody thought they would embrace the pop market after the previous Brandung, but that was not what happened. Sure, the extensive, side long, opus are gone forever, but the prog element is still here. And if they were courting the charts they probably would not open the new album with an 8 minute+ song that is also drenched with mellotrons (who was still using that instrument in the disco dominated year of 1978?).

The guitars are on the upfront here, but overall their sound became more fuller and richer than before. There are also two instrumentals, and the most "commercial" song of the entire album, the title track, has a very fine, Jethro Till-like flute solo (again, who was still playing the flute in 1978?). So, although they were not that symphonic or epic, they still have something interesting, different and good to offer to us in a time most prog acts were either stuck in a rut or gone commercial. I found their music to be melodic and accessible, ok, but also intelligent, elaborated and soulful. The last track, Die Welt Wird Alt Und Wieder Jung, where the vocals are accompanied only by a tickling piano is specially poignant, even if I don´t understand german.

In the end I found myself loving this CD because it is obviously a labor of love. I admire their nerve to face the obvious commercial pressures of the time to release something so personal and different. There are no fillers, and the opening track Der Geigenspieler is definitely one of their best songs. If you lost any hope for them after the great Sommerabend, think it over.

Rating: something between 3,5 and 4 stars. Not really essential, but very, very good anyway.

Report this review (#1785169)
Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2017 | Review Permalink

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