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Hoelderlin Clowns & Clouds album cover
3.57 | 70 ratings | 5 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mad House (6:50)
2. Your Eyes (6:05)
3. Circus (9:09)
- a) Tango Mili
- b) Marching
- c) Sensations
4. Streaming (7:07)
5. Phasing (12:12)

Total Time: 41:23

Bonus track on 2007 remaster:
6. Traum (Live 1974) (15:51)

Line-up / Musicians

- Christian Grumbkow / lead guitar
- Joachim Grumbkow / keyboards, cello, vocals
- Christoph Noppeney / viola, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Hans Bäär / bass, guitars
- Michael Bruchmann / drums, percussion
- Joachim Käseberg / stagesound

- Jörg-Peter Siebert / saxophones, flutes, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Christian Grumbkow

LP Spiegelei ‎- 26 605-6 U (1976, Germany)

CD Music Is Intelligence ‎- WMMS 043 (1994, Germany)
CD Spiegelei ‎- 0946 3 85381 (2007, Germany) Remastered by Jens Müller-Koslowski with 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy HOELDERLIN Clowns & Clouds Music

HOELDERLIN Clowns & Clouds ratings distribution

(70 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

HOELDERLIN Clowns & Clouds reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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 Bäär 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 Bäär'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.

Review by Marcelo
4 stars Another very nice number from Germany. "Clown & Clouds" is an album where listener can find a sort of cosmic symphonic rock where main influences are GENESIS, CAMEL and GROBSCHNITT.

HÖELDERLIN characteristics are the nice vocal arrangements, very good playing (specially percussion treatment) and the use of saxophone, flutes and strings (cello, viola) beside the traditional instruments. Compositions are well done, going from symphonic tunes to some jazzy and cosmic sounds.

Quality remains along all tracks, but two longest are outstanding. "Circus" (a three parts mini suite) is excellent, symphonic rock as its best in the GENESIS vein, while "Phasing" has a long atmospheric instrumental start that becomes in a cosmic rock piece, very interesting.

Those who like the German classic spacey sound plus GENESIS and CAMEL hints, will surely enjoy this album. Recommended.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Vocally and aesthetically there is a whole lot of Genesis influence here; musically it’s a bit closer to Camel; either way these guys sound more British than German in my opinion. Turns out for me at least that’s a pretty good thing, as I’m not at all a fan of Krautrock and don’t even like the harsher-sounding German folk bands. Those sorts of bands have their fans of course, but I’ve always thought the prototypical German sound often lacked a melodic ambience that I sort of like in my folk and symphonic music. There are exceptions of course – Carol of Harvest, Amenophis, maybe Parzival. And these guys. Their music seems sort of mildly irreverent to me; intricately excellent, involved, but ultimately almost tongue-in-cheek. In that respect a little bit like Fruup or even a bit like the stuff the Tangent puts out sometimes (although not quite as instrumentally ambitious I suppose).

The two-sided theme approach to the album (Cloud side versus Clown side) is one of those things that was sometimes clever back in the days of albums, but is all but lost on today’s raised-on-CD audience. I think Joe Jackson’s ‘Night & Day’ was probably the last such disc I ever bought on virgin vinyl and it too seems to suffer from being recast on a 4-1/2 inch slab of whatever CDs are made of.

No matter, what’s important is the music and that is pretty good here. Slightly less folksy and more symphonic than the band’s ‘Hölderlins Traum’ CD, which is the only other disc I have from them. And the last two songs (the Clouds side) is much less animated than the Clowns side, but both are equally appealing in their own ways. I can appreciate the slowing building beauty of “Phasing” at the end almost as much as the rather hyper extended “Madhouse” that opens the record, and the bouncy “Circus” makes for a nice transition between the two.

Unlike the debut the vocals are in English here, which makes following along on what is essentially a loosely-coupled story album a bit easier for the likes of monolingual dullards such as myself. Thanks to the band for that.

And although there isn’t a hit single to be found anywhere (or probably even a single at all – or at least not one that I know of), this is in the end a decent piece of work. Nothing memorable, nothing spectacular; then again, nothing overly pompous or ponderous either. So all things considered since this is a prototypical progressive rock album coming right on the heels of the most self-absorbed period of progressive music, that in itself is a compliment.

Three stars for being quite good and worth listening two more than three decades later, even if this is a mostly forgotten record. Recommended to symphonic prog fans as much, or even more so, than prog folk ones.


Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hoelderlin's second album was followed by the departure of Peter Kaeseberg, a fact that did not prevent the band from a large promoting tour, introducing new bassist Hans Baar.The more than 70 live dates of Hoelderling included gigs in Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden besides Germany, while they regularly appeared in various TV broadcasts.Entering 1976 they revisited Conny Planck's studio with Karlheinz Borchert sitting on the production chair.Büdi Siebert appears again on sax and flutes in this ''Clowns & clouds'' album, released once more on Spiegelei.

This was another collaborative work stylistically speaking, combining the complex and fiery side of Kraut Rock with the delicacy of British Symphonic Rock in five long compositions, although the resemblances with GENESIS become here even stronger with the vocals of Jochen Grumbcow sounding now extremely similar to the voice of PETER GABRIELand the guitar touch of Christian Grumbcow closing more and more the STEVE HACKETT sensitive tunes.Even this way the music is top notch with pronounced folky vibes and emphatic instrumental deliveries with both complicated and elegant parts.Moreover there are also plenty of intense, lyrical moments surrounding the good musicianship of the band.Each track contains lots but tightly linked variations, evolving from laid-back overtones with a theatrical atmosphere to dense instrumental textures with nice interplays.These are characterized by some excellent violin work of Classical nature, smooth flute passages and the monster work of Jochen Grumbcow on keyboards, switching from jazzy electric piano to orchestral Mellotrons and from atmospheric synthesizers to irritating organ moves.As a result ''Clowns & clouds'' fails a bit in terms of originality, but still offers some great moments of professional music and well-crafted arrangements with a huge instrumental background.

Typical 70's Classic Prog by Hoelderlin.Adeventurous, demanding, rich but still melodic and poetic.Far from trully personal, but the contained music is absolutely sufficient and impressive.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Arguably the finest Hoelderlin recording. Hoelderlin were often compared to Grobschnitt but had a much more serious approach to their music and on Clown & Clouds this is more than evident. It is a wondwerful blending of folk,rock and a pinch of jazz to to put the icing on the cake on this mast ... (read more)

Report this review (#88422) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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