Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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HOELDERLIN EXPRESS

(originally H"lderlin Express) German folk band performing original material with the help of electricity. Original lineup, all composing material: Olav Krauss (b 6 Feb. '66, Verden), six-string electric and acoustic violin; J]aso[rgen W. Lang (b 14 Nov. '66, Oldenburg), guitar, low whistle; Johannes Mayr (b 31 July '67, Augsburg), accordion; Elke Rogge (b 24 April '65, Stuttgart), electric hurdy-gurdy. They won the German Folk Newcomers Prize at the Tanz&FolkFest Rudolstadt '93 and subsequently appeared on Tanz&FolkFest Rudolstadt '94 on hei-deck playing 'Polka des 3. Oktober', inaugurating a tradition that the newcomer act that wins plays at the next year's festival. Debut album H"lderlin Express on Akkudisk '94 introduced wider audiences to their powerhouse combination of electrified hurdy-gurdy and violin, a sort of sonic story-telling on the margins of the folk scene. Their titles were products of wit and imagination, perhaps parodying folk airs ('Jumping Eggs'), representing bad puns ('Felix aus der Asche'/'Felix From The Ashes') or adopting a mock-Zen-like gravitas ('Das f]auu[nfte Gebot: Du sollst nicht fl"ten'/'The Fifth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Flute'). Their live 'Yeti' with snow flurries and yeti howls is typical of their showmanship. They adjusted the spelling of their name for the international market. Guest percussionist both live and on the album Ralf Gottschald (b 29 June '68, Reutlingen) joined full-time '94, replacing Mayr. Electric Flies on Akkudisk '96 found them applying more colours with textured abandon as on 'Der Trommelfresser' ('The Drum Scoffer') and 'Polka des 3. Oktober'; compared with the debut it had a less acoustic feel, and they dubbed the style 'Electric Body Folk' for programmatic purposes. The core of their appeal was the frontmen, Rogge's in- creasingly electric hurdy-gurdy and Krauss's sonic cascade from heart murmur to thunder machine.