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Novalis - Sommerabend CD (album) cover

SOMMERABEND

Novalis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 123 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Morrel
5 stars Is this really a masterpiece? Yes, yes, I'm afraid it is.

Novalis' sound on Sommerabend reminds the listener of a lighter, happier, friendlier Pink Floyd. It's very atmospheric and has an almost dreamlike feeling. In fact, the name "Sommerabend" ("Summer Evening") is very fitting. The album's sound does indeed evoke visions of a dreamy summer evening. Picture it: it's warm, it's beginning to get dark, and you're laying outside, taking in the fleeting smells and sounds that surround you. That is what the album is about, and that is what it gives.

The album opens up with "Aufbruch" ("Awakening"), which is fully instrumental. Beginning with some dreamy keyboards juxtaposed by harsh, repetitive guitar chords. Two minutes in the main theme is introduced. From then on, the song dives in and out of this theme and it's variations, dissecting it with beautiful melodic organ passages and spacey guitar solos. The guitar from around 7:30 to 8:15 is particularly moving, featuring a combination echo and call-and-response between the left and right channels. The song finishes up by returning to the manner in which it began, before cutting off suddenly.

The second song, "Wunderschätze" (Wonderous Treasures) continues in much the same way, with a soaring keyboard theme, but features the introductions of the German vocals. This is one album in particular where I am pleased the band stuck with its native language. Not only do vocalists sound better in their native language, but I think the sound of the German language is perfect for the feel of the album -- the vocals fit very well with the other instruments, managing to sound both lazy and emotional. After a while the vocals switch to an equally well executed choral set up, before returning to the soaring keyboards. The song soon speeds up into a nice section of keyboard/guitar interplay, but soon slows down again so the vocal section can be reprised. From the eight minute mark onwards, Novalis layers on more and more sound and gently ups the pace, creating a tension that bursts at the ten minute mark in the form of a short guitar passage as the song wraps up.

The eighteen-minute title track wraps up the album. The opening is very spacey and clearly influenced by Eloy. I keep waiting for some distorted vocals to pop in at this point, but alas, they never come, with the song instead settling down into a gentle and typically Novalis keyboard passage. Some acoustic guitar joins in, creating a very tranquil atmosphere with sounds of sloshing water in the background. The vocals join in, and suddenly we are in heaven, it's so beautiful. The song continues in this manner for several minutes before suddenly -- what's that? -- long synthesiser notes growing steadily in pitch -- as if a spaceship were powering up -- introduce a wondrously joyful keyboardfest. Suddenly there are childlike, choral vocals dancing about, and, my god, the faeries, I see them!... I'm always disappointed when this section ends, but it happens at a good time, just as the novelty is wearing off. The song returns to the soaring keyboards of long ago before settling into that same Eloy-like introductory passage to end the song.

I give all three tracks on this album five stars. While the music is not particularly complex nor technically innovative, it doesn't have to be. That simply isn't the point of the album. The band successfully manages to induce the very visions and emotions it intended to, without ever getting boring or clichéd. If you like emotionally moving music and don't need endless fidgety guitar loop-de-loops to keep you interested then I would definitely recommend this album. Instant masterpiece.

Morrel | 5/5 |

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