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19 Nov 2016

Midnight Circus “Midnight Circus” 1972 German Prog Psych Folk,Kraut Rock

Midnight Circus “Midnight Circus” 1972 German Prog Psych Folk,Kraut Rock
First official reissue of this fantastic German folk-, psych- and krautrockalbum, 1972 released on Bellaphon/ Bacillus. Midnight Circus` only album was recorded at the famous Dierks Studio with Peter Hauke producing. In fact Midnight Circus hailed from Cologne area and it would seem as though the idea behind Midnight Circus, being a duo with the aid of session musicians, was to emulate the cosmic folk of Witthüser + Westrupp, but with an internationally appealing English vocal bias. A success indeed, but also a touch rockier and strongly influenced by Dieter Dierks` involvement in the sessions. The atmospheric tracks featuring mellotron and flute also recall The Moody Blues and early King Crimson (Freeman Brothers in “The Crack in the Cosmic Egg”). Christian Bollmann, one of the band leaders has since become an accomplished ethno-musicologist, moving into the more ethereal realms of the new age. The recordings were remastered from the master tape and included two bonus tracks of 1971 released 7“ Coloured Is Gay/ Get It and a latter song “Seagull” from the vaults of the bands archive. LP comes with informative insert. Secret tip! ….. 

Midnight Circus were essentially the folk-rock-with-progressive-tendencies duo of Christian Bollmann and Torsten Schmitt, who made just the one self-titled album in 1972. Between them, they shared the vocal and acoustic guitar work, with Bollmann adding recorder and trumpet (notably the solo on longest and best track November Church) and various guest musicians filling out the sound. Midnight Circus is good with several of the songs operating in ‘meandering and slightly stoned’ mode, although some interesting instrumentation helps to lift it out of the also-ran category. 
Amongst the album’s guests was Veit Madaus on keys, who played instantly-recognisable Mellotron strings on I Had A Dream, with less obvious brass on November Church, with more of what sounds like both on one of the bonus tracks, “Get It”, with a particularly abrasive and upfront brass part. 
~ (Review from 
A very obscure and difficult to locate album produced in Germany in the early-70’s. This is a dreamy progressive folk album that appears to be a duo augmented by sessions musicians (in the manner of Witthuser + Westrupp but with vocals sung in English). The album does venture out into a tougher rock sound at times while at others it will float on a bed of mellotron sound which hazily recalls the sound of early King Crimson or The Moody Blues. A very interestibng and rare album which is well worth a listen. This reissue contains two bonus tracks. 
~ by vinyl kiosk. …. 

Apart from Krautrock, electronic/space rock and symphonic prog, Germany in the 1970s was home to a surprising number of folk acts. Some, like HOELDERLIN, eventually evolved to sound more like GENESIS, while others, like OUGENWEIDE, retained a distinct connection to their roots. MIDNIGHT CIRCUS was a duo that bridged the psychedelia, pastoral folk rock, and symphonic prog that closed out the 1960s. They sadly released only one album and haven’t reunited like so many others, at least not yet. 
The overall mood is ponderously pastoral, driven by strummed acoustic guitar, recorder, and at times soaring vocal harmonies. The opening track “The Light” encapsulates all of these qualities, with a mystical melody that successfully sidesteps cliches. “I Had a Dream” starts as a vivacious HOLLIES/KINKS mix before the tempo moderates dramatically and mellotron strings assert themselves. Ultimately, it’s on the pulpit of “November Church” that MIDNIGHT CIRCUS stakes its claim to any notoriety beyond mere obscurity. Almost 9 minutes of Gothic bliss, it’s a deranged Teutonic “California Dreamin”, complete with morose choral parts, shrill trumpet, martial guitars and drums, and even a segment dedicated to the sermon of the month. Not quite a suite and not quite an epic, it’s an exemplary piece of prog folk that is both adventurous and accessible. 

Other highlights include the ballad “Disappointed Love” that turns more aggressive in the breaks, and the Latin American inflected instrumental “Indian Impression”. “Meditation” is another showcase for Christian Bollman’s pulmonary prowess, presaging the work of artists like R CARLOS NAKAI by some years. Only “Mr Clown” and the two bonus tracks find the artists adopting hippy pop conventions, if you will. 

It’s still gratifying to discover worthwhile artists from so long ago and to illuminate their names in neon if only for a proverbial quarter hour. While most everything on the original release hovers between 3 and 4 stars, I am going to round up for the preeminent “November Church”, and also because this act manages to be both “out there” and balanced without really trying… kenethlevine…… 

* Christian Bollmann (vocals,guitar), 
* Torsten Schmidt (vocals,guitar). 
* Thomas Engel (drums), 
* Veit Madaus (keyboards), 
* Dave Crocket (bass), 
* Rainer Marz (guitar). 

01. The Light 5:53 
02. I Had A Dream 3:29 
03. November Church 8:53 
04. Mr. Clown 2:57 
05. Indian Impression 2:18 
06. Disappointed Love 3:54 
07. Meditation 5:23 
08. Coloured Gay (Bonus) 3:01 
09. Get It (Bonus) 3:06 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..