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Hoelderlin - Hoelderlin CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.03 | 79 ratings

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4 stars Hoelderlin is a much vaunted German prog-folk act that took their music seriously enough to take it into resolute symphonic environments. The finest talent on display here IMHO is the incredible Michael Bruchmann, a percussion stylist who could give the legendary Mike Giles a run for his money, riffling terrific rhythmic barrages at breakneck speed and Teutonic precision. Just following his work is joy enough to hunt down this album. Two sets of brothers man the team, the Käseberg lads (Peter on bass and Joachim on guitar) and the Grumpkow boys Joachim on keys and Joachim on acoustic and electric guitars. Another cool feature is the splendid viola work by lead vocalist Christoph Noppeney.

The masterful instrumental "Schwebebahn" starts out with highly infectious mellotron swaths sliced by inspired viola surges recalling vivid King Crimson influences, especially the thrilling percussion onslaught that defines the Bruford/Muir cooperative. This workout would fit very nicely on either Larks Tongues in Aspic, Starless & Bible Black and Red.

"I Love my Dog" tips the scales in a completely opposite direction, a pure, lightweight folk song about a pet canine, a heady mix of Jethro Tull (the flute), The Strawbs (the vocals) and Cat Stevens (the sound). The instrumental breaks are all very spacy and intense, creating a wonderful sense of contrast, revealing a delirious desire to go beyond the norm and progress. Zeus B. Held's fabulous sax solo illustrates this yearning with conviction, and another future famed producer in Conny Plank supervises the pristine sound.

The divine "Honeypot" keeps the mood pastoral, a pleasant vale lush with green fields of sustenance, sparkling piano, a slow building whirlwind tornado propelled by the ultra-busy rhythm section, the prominent mellotron squalls and the ebb and flow of contrasting sonic weather patterns. Guest Norbert Jacobson intervenes on a brief clarinet cameo. This is perhaps my favorite piece here, a crafty composition full of wonder and amazement.

"Nürnberg" is sweet and delicate, short and hummable, highlighted by both Grumpkows on their respective instruments. As cute as this pice is, it only serves to introduce the epic tour de force that closes out the album, the sweltering 17+ minute "Death Watch Beetle", a perfect osmosis of what Hoelderlin does best, all the ingredients falling into place, conjuring up detailed images of intense serenity and storytelling of the highest order. The viola gets a long and thorough workout, ably assisted by the seductive acoustic guitars. The delicate piano work is concert hall quality, a truly impressive performance, as both vocalist share the microphone, though it must be stated that the accent is quite light and will not detract from the music being presented. Need I repeat the sensational work by drummer Bruchmann? Okay, I will, then!

The cover is one of my all-time favorites, honestly one of the reasons that compelled me to hunt this one down in the first place.

4 Volkswagen

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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