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Hoelderlin - Rare Birds CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Fourth album from Hoelderlin with the last pair of brothers being broken, Christian Grumbkow providing the lyrics and artworks, and managing the band, his spot taken by Spanish Pablo Weeber. Released end 77, this album is the last one susceptible to interest progheads (outside the double-live album coming the following year) as they will experienced much line-up and musical direction changes after this album.

The least we can say is that not much remains from the debut or the eponymous albums, and Conny plank is not involved anymore with the group. Not that the album is bad, far from it, but the magic is gone and when hints of it are present, they are still the highlights, but do not shine the same way. By now Joachim Grumbkow is not main songwriter anymore (fairly democratic sharing of credits, actually with newer members actively contributing). The opening Intergalaktik holds some glimpse of foregone greatness, but the following Sky Lift (Bäär-penned but not quite reaching heights of C&C) is lacklustre, while Rough And Thorny (penned by newcoming Weeber) is still worthy of the previous album and works well because of Noppeney's violin.

The second side of the vinyl is opened by the title track, which just another average Hoelderlin track but followed by the brilliant instrumental track Necronomicon (penned by Weber), which is a real scorcher and the album's highlight. The magnificent ambiances (reminiscent of the eponymous second) of the slightly fusion-esque aerial theme are quite enthralling, while the closing Sun Rays is yet another typical track of theirs, which means nothing exceptional by the time of this album's release even if the closing three minutes are worth the detour.

Clearly with every new album Hoelderlin was losing original members, inspiration and most likely a bit of faith as well. Although still a worthy prog album, much worth the occasional spin, this was to be their final prog offering, with its share of moments (but also weaknesses), but the-times-they-are-changin-again!!

Report this review (#3505)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars A nice album not more. The band show their abilty to play, and it shows that they are good musicians. But the melodies are not quite good to lift the music into some highs. More of a background music the album give some OK tracks but not anything special.
Report this review (#3506)
Posted Friday, March 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
5 stars Hoelderlin were a German band who started out firmly with a prog-folk styling, but by their 3rd release (Clowns and Clouds) gave in to a more symphonic-prog direction (some could say that they took the easy way out by changing to this style). 'Rare Birds' is their 4th release and really hits this prog listener somewhere deep inside. The main keyboard utilised on this LP is a string synth, and IMO, it is used to great effect and compliments the arrangements perfectly (i.e. - it wouldn't sound the same with a mellotron, believe it or not !). The production is quite clear and well balanced - very professional. Almost straight away, the terrific opening track, 'Haktik Intergalaktik', starts with an immediately noticeable odd-time riff, with lovely viola playing from Christoph (Nops) Noppeney, and a tight, precise rhythm section (the Bass-guitar sports a lovely tone) - we are up and away. Quaint vocals from Nops, great progressions throughout, a brief interlude which I find is most touching, and great guitaring till the end. 'Sky-Lift' offers us a laid-back, fusiony feel with some tight playing all around. 'Before You Lay Down/Rough and Thorny' is again a smooth, jammy piece with a most blissed out end section. Side 2 begins with the title song, 'Rare Bird', and is a beautiful example of 'head music', the song is built around piano and string synth, with minimal drumming (just a bass drum, from memory), totally mellow, deep and profound, with a dramatic middle section - very dreamy, without question. 'Necronomicon' is a superb instrumental, starting out with an almost sinister undercurrent, and giving way to some stormy playing - especially a great semi-tone riff in 5/4 in the middle. The closing track, 'Sun Rays' is probably the weakest composition on offer here, and quite lengthy, but still holds the attention. Overall, a fantastic album from these highly skilled and talented musicians, and quite worthy of attention. Personally it commands the full 5 star rating, I have to give in - it's gorgeous !!
Report this review (#103443)
Posted Monday, December 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hoelderlin had well and truly moved on from their earlier progressive folk direction by the time they produced Rare Birds, which is in an accessible symphonic prog style not miles away from the sort of material Happy the Man or Camel were producing at around this time, though with a much greater focus on vocals (courtesy mainly of Christoph Noppeney). The result is an album which is pleasant enough, with occasional pastoral moments reminiscent of the best of Genesis, but it's not particularly distinctive or exceptional - if you didn't know it were Hoelderlin playing this, you might guess dozens of other European prog bands before hitting on them. It's an interesting album, but rather soulless and anonymous.
Report this review (#555681)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Rare birds" is the German group Hoelderlin (Hölderlin)'s fourth studio record and it was released in 1977 and featured Hans Bäär(bass), Michael Burchmann (drums), Christian Grumbkow(lyrics), Joachim Grumbkow(keyboards, vocals), Christoph Noppeney (viola, vocals), Pablo Weeber (guitar, vocals) and Manfred von Bohr (drums). An aesthetic cover with a fire bird and a girl predicted good music, but I don't find these songs especially rare.

When I put the record on I came into a nice world of prog rock, no doupt about that, but this music was in no way an eye opener or especially interesting. The early Hölderlin was a progressive folk rock band put the only folky here is the viola, but it doesn't make it folky alone. In some moments it's possible to hear symphonic approach. With German lyrics perhaps I would have liked it very much, but now it wasn't so fun. The singers didn't sang enough loud either so they didn't took place.

My favourite song on this record Rare birds is "Necronomicon" which is very good(8/10). It has the right prog edge, some kind of a melody and a dark feeling, some symphonic moves and viola solos.

Three other song are little more than just good. "Häktik Intergaläktik"(7/10) starts with giving this little withdrawn feeling. If you think other symphinic rockers use to be to pompous perhaps late Hoelderlin is something for you. Even "Before you lay down" (7/10) is nice and the closer "Sun rays (7/10) has also a pleasent soundscape with a great guitar solo in the end. Two songs doesn't make sense for me: "Rare bird" the titel track is too boring with weak vocals and a sleepy feeling (6/10) as well as "Sky-Lift" which is even more boring (5/10).

I find Hoelderlin in no way bad but in this way the choice to sing in a foreign language wasn't a good idea. A German band stays genuine with singing in German, that's my opinion. That's perhaps not Rare Birds biggest shortage but it's something. I will continue explore Hoelderlin but this record has to wait a while until I'll listen again.

Report this review (#989814)
Posted Sunday, June 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is exactly the kind of seventies progrock I want to hear.

I only recently discovered this band. They craft perfect eclectic progressive rock with psychedelic and canterbury- stylistics. The band is labeled as progfolk, and although there's some folk-influences, it's mostly progfusionrock.

What sets this band apart from so many other progbands is the viola. Caravan is the only other band with viola (Geoff Richardson). A viola is somewhere between the violin and cello. So somewhere between uplifting and depressing: the perfect balance.

Because th band has three vocalists, it all adds to the colour of the sound. Apart from the singing (wich is really great) there's lots of instrumental play. If one would say Hoederlin was a canterbury-band I would have believed it. The only other bands from Germany from this era that come close to this high standard is Kraan.

I also love all the Hoelderlin artwork, and this one is again very tasteful!

Report this review (#1891908)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Review Permalink

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