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SOMMERABEND

Novalis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 142 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars Around 4 years ago I started searching the Internet for new bands to listen to. Now, I don't know if it's considered 'bad form' to mention any of the competition here but I came across some interesting sites that eventually led me here to Prog Archives. If it's ok I'll maybe sneak a mention for James Home Page (someone we know perhaps?), which was a great resource but is sadly no longer available on line. Anyway, I bookmarked PA to my favourite websites and German band Novalis was one of my first 'discoveries' here. What a wonderful surprise to find such a plethora of classic '70s Prog bands from Europe and South America that I had hitherto been quite ignorant of. I can't be certain, but I think Sommerabend (1976) might even have been my first purchase as a result of my visits to the site.

On this their third album Novalis are paired down to a four-piece band, with Carlo Karges having apparently left the band. Sommerabend comprises just three tracks, with the title song topping the 18-minute mark. This is a 5-section suite that gradually builds in intensity over the course of those 18 minutes. The introduction sounds spacey with electronic effects bubbling in and out of the mix. Just past the 2-minute mark the main theme enters courtesy of Lutz Rahn's Moog. Acoustic guitar takes up the mantle and is then joined by string-synth, the overall effect being very hypnotic and almost soporific (in a good way!). Vocals start around the 6.30 mark, with guitarist Detlef Job's mellow voice providing a good match for the restrained musical backing. The tempo then changes slightly, although the mood is still fairly relaxed, with Job's wailing electric guitar and bass-player Heino Schunzel's vocals. Schunzel's voice is sterner than Job's, but some laid-back Moog lines balance the overall effect. Around the 12-minute mark the band finally breaks into a gallop with Hammond organ muscling in on the fiery guitar/synth interplay. Things settle down again with a majestic guitar and Hammond theme. The song comes to a close all too soon with more spacey effects and a reprise of the main Moog theme. Influences? Think of Pink Floyd and you'll be on the right lines.

Wunderschatze is my favourite song from any Novalis album. The lyrics are based on a text by the early Romantic author and philosopher from whom the band took their name. Shame I don't understand a word of German, but fortunately I do appreciate beautiful melodic Prog when I hear it. In the main this is an acoustic ballad that sounds full of angst. Job and Schunzel share the singing and I've got to say their voices complement one another perfectly on this song. It speeds up in places with some meaty bass from Schunzel and what is arguably Hartwig Biereichel's best drumming on a Novalis song. It even includes some Trespass-style organ and a sublime guitar/Moog duet that fairly rocks to an end. I might at times be guilty of laying it on a bit thick when it comes to my reviews, but in this case there is no hyperbole in sight; this is an extreme song. Aufbruch is an almost 10- minute instrumental featuring plenty of interesting guitar and organ exchanges, but it's really not much more than a warm-up act for Wunderschatze.

In my opinion Sommerabend knocks the band's self-titled second album into a cocked hat. Thing is, the best was perhaps yet to come with Brandung. 4 mellow stars for this one though.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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