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Novalis Banished Bridge album cover
3.59 | 111 ratings | 19 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Banished Bridge (17:06)
2. High Evolution (4:27)
3. Laughing (9:10)
4. Inside of Me (Inside of You) (6:40)

Total Time 37:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Jürgen Wenzel / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Lutz Rahn / organ, Mellotron, piano, synthesizer
- Heino Schünzel / bass
- Hartwig Biereichel / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Dieter Leppin

LP Brain - 1029 (1973, Germany)

CD Repertoire - PMS 7050-WP (1997, Europe) Remastered by Ulf Horbelt and Uwe Lux

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NOVALIS Banished Bridge ratings distribution

(111 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

NOVALIS Banished Bridge reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars "Banished Bridge" is simply an essential recording and stands up easily to all other German prog bands of the 70's "Banished Bridge" is 4 tracks of indispensable lush symphonic prog rock with deep melodies. Many of NOVALIS' lyrics were based on the poetry of 16th century poet Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg ("NOVALIS" was his alias). The opening 17-minute title-track track is worth the admission into this one alone, with some succulent organ and synth work, PINK FLOYD-like atmospheres and even sound effects. The wild thing on this album is that I don't believe there are any guitars ! and the lack of is not troublesome. Lead singer Jürgen Wenzel sings (and speaks) in English and does so without any irritation to the listener. The 3 other tracks are also excellent with more FLOYD-like atmospheres (aka "Ummagumma") with a highly exploratory nature... something they kind of deviated from on their more symphonic later albums. A great album !
Review by Carl floyd fan
3 stars The first and third songs are very good. But the second and fourth are kinda boring and to slow for me. Still, this very rare cd is a gem and shouldn't be avoided if you like prog. Still, I doubt you'll ever see this cd in any store so just d/l the cd so you can see just how good these guys are. This ia also a pretty good cd to start off on too.
Review by Progbear
3 stars We all have to start somewhere, and so it is with Novalis' debut. Hardly a bad album, but odd in that it doesn't really sound like a Novalis album, in spite of having three members who were driving forces of the band for a large chunk of their career. Spotlight here is on keysman Lutz Rahn, who stamps proceedings with his authoritative keyboard work. His Hammond organ work and synthesizer playing (using one of Wolfgang Palm's experimental home-made synthesizers, no less) are particularly fine.

The thing that makes this stand out among Novalis' output is the guitarwork, or rather, the lack of it. Detlef Job's distinctive guitar playing was a fixture of Novalis' sound, and here the only guitar-playing is some folkish acoustic strumming from singer Jürgen Wenzel. Wenzel acquits himself well enough as a vocalist, but doesn't add a new dimension to the music or anything. He's merely adequate, neither bad nor especially memorable. The album would have been just as good as an instrumental. Better, in fact, as this is really one of the more laughable attempts at English lyrics by a non-English-speaking band. And the lyrics are printed in BIG BLOCK LETTERS on the back cover, no less.

Ludicrous lyrics aside, the 17-minute title suite is by far the highlight of the album. Rahn propels the music along, with his energetic organ and synth work driving the rhythm between the slower and exciting quicker sections. The balance of the album is more ordinary, with the lengthy "Laughing" standing out a bit with some nice arpeggiated Hammond chords.

Not Novalis' high point, BANISHED BRIDGE is still an interesting historical document of the roots of a rather iconic (in Germany anyway) prog-rock act, and is a must for big fans of this band.

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars What a coincidence: this evening I selected a few LP's to review for this site and this one turned out to be of one the albums that was reviewed three times (including me) this evening! The sidelong titletrack is the absolute highlight: pleasant shifting moods and splendid play on the Hammond organ by Lutz Rahn who later coloured the Novalis compositions so wonderfully with his lush and varied keyboard sound. Unfortunately the other compositions lack a bit direction. Despite some fine acoustic guitar and excellent work on the Hammond organ I prefer the later LP's like "Novalis" and "Sommerabend" (and of course the magnificent "Konzerte"). Nonetheless, this is a fine symphonic rock experience.
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Debut album from this Hamburg quartet (standard prog formation, even if the guitarist does not go electric), Banished Bridge is one of the earlier example of a German symphonic prog (the group preferred calling it "Romantic Rock" and their group's name was taken after one of Germany's best known romantic poet), and Novalis will be around until at least the mid-80's. Although their artwork is as bland (dare I say blank? ;-) as you can get, the least we can say is that the music inside the sleeve would've deserved a much better treatment.

Although the album was not groundbreaking (in an artistic way, because nationally they were precursors), this has been one of the most highly regarded album (with every right to) by specialists. The lengthy epic (17 mins) title track is one (if not THE) of their best track and is certainly the basis of Novalis' sound. Starting out on an almost tribal beat with birdsongs mixing the ones from my backyard, this slow starting epic is taking its damn sweet time (is that a flute? Let's hear it again ;-) with haunting organ ever crescendo-ing (never seeming to reach its apex) with its almost-whispered (female?) vocals. Pure marvellous joy and sine-chills garanteed.

After the side-long suite of the first side, could Novalis actually top that or at least equal it? Well they certainly come close with the short High Evolution and its superb organs greatly underlined by a Mellotron. The 9-min+ Laughing is a superb and tense epic, where keyboardist Rahn roams between Jon lord, Keith Emerson, Ken Hensley and Vincent Crane. Que du beau monde, mon cher!! Inside Of Me is relatively weaker but still hold its own.

It is a real shame that Novalis will never really repeat this album's success (artistic anyway), but the unstable nature of the band's line-up will hurt them throughout their career. No less than three change of personnel will happen before their second album will be released. On the whole, this album may be slightly less complex than Brandung or Sommerabend, but here the enthusiasm more than makes up for it, and the general feeling of ecstasy will not be quiote as prevalent on their following releases. Easily their best, IMHO, but then again, what do I know?

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

This is the first album of this German band coming out of Hamburg They have nothing to do with experimental Krautrock; there is nothing weird about their music, on the contrary what they're doing is just writing and playing beautiful music. If you want to know what symphonic romantic rock with lavish arrangements is ---but never over the top-- try NOVALIS.

The engine behind NOVALIS sound is the magnificent organ of LUTZ RAHN who is not here to show off his skills; there are no 5mns solos going nowhere. No, he just tries to play the right note at the right place creating lush layers of pastoral athmospheres throughout their songs. Beauty is a word you can use to describe their music .They are trying hard to come up with something majestic , and often they do succeed!

If you like early GENESIS or albums like HAMBURGER CONCERTO from FOCUS, this is the band for you! BANISHED BRIDGE is their first and only English-sung . After that, they will revert to their native german...with big success. If this album is not yet on par with their next 2 recordings, it is already quite an achievement. It opens with the self titled suite , a 17mns moody athmospheric epic with alot of wonderful organ sounding, some gentle acoustic guitar , somewhat reminiscent of what JANE was doing in the meantime.There is also some early PINK FLOYD influences. And don't miss the female vocal at the end; an absolute gorgeous moment.

What was side 2 is a little bit more ''rock'' like LAUGHING and INSIDE FROM ME which sound very ''energetic '' compared to what precede them, but that's still good, albeit not a trademark about what NOVALIS music is. But that's still good music, pleasant to my ears.

The sound as i said is limited to keyboards helped by a very good rythm section; no EMERSON, no JURGEN FRITZ here, just a wonderful organ player creating wonderful, gorgeous music. For the next album, not one but 2 guitarists will join the band for a total masterpiece: the self titled NOVALIS.


Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recorded and released in 1973, Novalis' debut album is atypical in many ways: the sung parts are in English (delivered by a lead singer with little power and a limited range), the instrumentation lacks guitar (except for some acoustic guitar provided by the aforesaid lead singer). Even more essentially, the band's style is yet to convey that magical mixture of clear melodic symphonic rock and space-rock that made the best of their most accomplished efforts: by now, in this seminal phase, the band seems patently influenced by British proto-prog (Gracious, Beggar's Opera, perhaps some Procol Harum). Anyway, all in all this is by no means a criticism of Lutz Rahn's work on the keyboard department: he sure can use his arsenal (piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizer) in a very fruitful fashion, delivering orchestrations, harmonic bases and polished solos convincingly and with pure skill. This very factor is crucial for the excellence incarnated in the namesake suite, which fills the vinyl's A-side. The main motifs (recurrent in a well-ordained succession) are inspired, and some arrangements bear a punchy feel, like those dialogues between organ and tympani that appear twice in the middle. Rahn, at this point, seemed to bear influences from Wright, Wakeman and Banks although never becoming a mere clone. Once this 17 minute suite is over, we are pass the album's apex, but it would be unfair and inaccurate to say that the remaining tracks are unworthy. On the contrary, they serve properly to fill the band's vision. 'High Evolution' and 'Inside of Me (Inside of You)' era the most perfect examples of the proto-prog trend that I've mentioned before. Of these two, I prefer the latter since it offers a major variation of ideas in pure progressive fashion; on the other hand, I don't really like the somewhat lame closing passage, which IMHO should have been more climatic. Between these numbers is 'Laughing', the least Novalis-like song in this or any other album from the band's first era. It starts with a motif based on pastoral almost-country acoustic guitar (something like Dylan-meets-CSN), and them turns into a different one, dominated by keyboards, with a suave, ethereal mood. In certain moments, this track reminds me of what Eloy was also doing in their seminal years. Every band starts somewhere, and this start is good, promising, but at the end of the day, not really great as a whole. Anyway, Novalis was destined to do more important things for the evolution of the prog genre in Germany: even this underdeveloped debut album is better than the best by Jane or Triumvirat, just to put some other German examples.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars...

This legendary group,one of the top Gernan progressive rock bands ever,was found in 1972 in Hamburg by bassist Heino Schünzel and vocalist Jürgen Wenzel.They recruited Hartwig Biereichel and Lutz Rahn to present the first NOVALIS line-up,named after the major poet of the romanticism period...which is exactly what you'll hear listening to their 1973 debut ''Banished bridge'':romantic progressive rock with changing moods and superb vocals.

Electric guitars are totally absent,but do not expect to hear bombastic keyboard-driven musicianship by NOVALIS.Their music is built around mainly slow- and mid-tempo organ parts with lots of classical leanings,peaceful and calm piano passages and some synth-driven effects with a spacey and deep atmosphere.This trully majestic keyboard work would eventually have remained in the shadows without being ''colored'' by the ethereal bass work of Schünzel and the stunning vocal performance of Jürgen for the 17-min title track,this is a unique progressive journey in the world of organ-dominated/spacey prog rock,delivering one of the most mournful and depressive atmospheres ever to be faced!''Banished bridge'' comes like a guide to the German symphonic progressive rock school with heavy emphasis on strong keyboards,spacey parts and creative soundscapes.A trully interesting release!

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars My friend Febus asked me several times already to review this German band. My problem so far was that I knew that they turned to German vocals pretty soon after their debut and I have to admit that I have some difficulties to swallow these. Anyway, here we go.

Actually, what can I say about the title track?

That it bloody melodic? That the interplay between strong and pastoral passages counts amongst the most beautiful ones? That if the early ''Genesis'' is one of your musical model, you shouldn't miss this one? That the ocean of keys requires some good swimming skills to survive? That I would have liked to get some guitar in here? That the song could have been longer? That this epic has no weak moment for over seventeen minutes? That it is a classic and formidable song? That it is a masterpiece of symphonic rock?

Yes, I guess I can say this. I will also add that the pastoral intro and closing is a beautiful prolongation of the marvellous ''Trespass''. A masterpiece, I told you!

I would add though that the vocal department is rather weak during the upbeat and short ''High Evolution''. Fully bombastic and enjoyable, except the dreadful vocals of course.

This aspect is settled during ''Laughing'' which is a more conventional ''Novalis'' song. It is complex and changes from theme quite often. To some extent, it is a ''Banished Bridge'' in miniature. Not as great but my second fave (of course, there are only four tracks here.). Some fine percussion combined with acoustic guitar evoke a psyche mood which is due to please yours truly.

There is some feel of an upbeat ''Procol Harum while ''Inside Of Me'' is being played. The extensive use of keys of course.Brilliant instrumental intro.

This is an excellent album which could have deserved the maximum rating if vocals would have been on par with the superb music and if ''High Evolution'' would have been replaced by a better track. Four stars.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars It's great, it's terrific (but not too much), but it's also something which could have ended in my recycle bin. But not for purpose, just by accident. Although music is great, cover of this album (which is something important to me, but only in time of decision) is absolutely terrible. It's stupid to say, but also the name. Now, when I know how good is this music, it's seems like funny joke, but when someone discover new music, he has to choose it by some purpose. 1)cover 2)recommedation 3)other albums by artist 4)style of music etc.

Maybe this will be another five star album for Marty. It's hard when I listen (and like) only those I like (not so strange, huh?). Therefore, 4-5 star ratings are in majority. Why to listen bad music (my opinion), when there is too much of good in those I think I will like ? And I like in most of times. I like a lot.

ALBUM: "Banished Bridge", title track is slowly coming for minutes, before finally turning into symphonic prog as we know it. This intro part is now often separated into own track. So, after about 4 minutes we have the time of wilder sound. In fact the most wildest sounds you will ever heard here. I like use of synths and mellotron here. German music it is, but doesn't sound like that. When talking about G-music of these times, I imagine something electronic (hello Tangerine), or bluesy sounding. Or just pure rock. But this could be easily something coming from UK. That's perhaps allright, because I like 70s symphoprog. However, there is something bad from 8:00-9:20. This sound is very annoying and unpleasant to listen. It could easily not be here. Then there is some whispering, like if singer wants to tell us secret about this record (and why the f... is there this sound), then "rocking" comes again. After this song we returns to beautiful nature sounds again

Then three, also good songs. Are you disappointed by missing review of half a album ? You don't have to be. It's a good one, but not good enough (for me) to give five stars. These songs sound one like another to me, so even I like this one and will probably play it many times, it deserves just four stars. Very good, much better than a lot of others, but still just 4 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Novalis' debut is an anomaly in their catalog. The organ is given utmost prominence, the vocals are in a rough cut English, and no electric guitars can be identified, the bass and acoustic rhythm guitar occasionally filling in. It is also more spirited than anything they were to present until the late 1970s.

While comparisons to earlier progressive pioneers are not unjustified, the roots of Novalis more closely intertwine with the branches of 1960s psychedelia, especially in the organ and bass lines. Early PROCOL HARUM and PINK FLOYD also come to mind. I would prefer to speak about their enormous influence on the German symphonic progressive scene of the 1970s, and groups like JANE, RAMSES, TROYA, and MINOTAURUS. This debut seems to have had the biggest direct impact on those and many others.

Hints of the narcoleptic tendencies of subsequent albums can be found here and there, especially on parts of the nonetheless fascinating title cut, but generally the group minimizes the ambient quotient. "High Evolution" is the most direct and shortest piece, with a clean melody, jubilant chorus, and organ at turns crunching and church-like. "Laughing" is 9 minutes long and is really a suite of barely connected fragments that barely holds together with organ, acoustic guitar, bass, and some CREAM-like vocals. It is probably the weakest of the 4 tracks on that basis. The closer "Inside of You" is somewhat more coherent, with a signature bass line and organ theme. The vocals do tend to be a bit overwrought.

NOVALIS would go on to become one of the most popular German progressive groups of the 1970s, and many readers here would be in raptures over the group, particularly this debut. While I respect their influence and enjoy this disk from time to time, on the whole I find the Novalis sound to be a bit more dated than most from the period. My attention tends to drift as their compositions don't really draw me in like the best prog should, so for the most part the group is banished to the second tier.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Novalis started as a heavy organ prog act with psychedelic elements. There's reported influences from Floyd and Crimson but I don't find those to be very prominent. The band sounds more rooted in 60's organ rock such as Procul Harum and the Nice, and also hinting at acts such as Uriah Heep and even their country's own Amon Düül.

The debut offers 4 songs that go declining in quality from excellent at the top to rather average in the end. The title track is a very strong symphonic piece that sits somewhere between Ange and Amon Düül's Wolf City (especially at the end). The track is not only ahead in quality but also in maturity, showing a more thoroughly progressive style, while the shorter tracks are more firmly in 60s territory.

High Evolution is a great emotive ballad with some Jefferson Airplane influences. Laughing also goes back into the 60s, with organs recalling early Uriah Heep, and muted percussion revealing some Kraut roots. Inside of Me sounds like something from VDGG'S debut and is really out of place on this 1973 album, both old-fashioned and not really strong. Despite the weak conclusion, I still think the album deserves your attention.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Novalis's first album is often compared to early King Crimson, but I think a better touchstone is a somewhat spacier version of early (pre-Prologue) Renaissance, with traces of early Genesis also perceptible. This is perhaps most evident on Banished Bridge itself, which begins with a spacey intro, progresses into a folk-prog main part, and then erupts into a keyboard-dominated conclusion. Although the music on here wasn't groundbreaking or especially original even at the time, Novalis prove competent at producing a symphonic prog album which, even if it can't quite match the classic albums of the era, at least manages to be a quite strong second-tier piece. On the basis of Banished Bridge, I wouldn't elevate Novalis to the prog aristocracy, but I'd say they could credibly play as a support act to the likes of Yes or Genesis without embarrassing themselves.
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Read some of the other reviews here of the debut album by Novalis and you'll notice comparisons to many (and more familiar) English bands: Camel, King Crimson, Procul Harum, Pink Floyd, so forth and so on. Proof, perhaps, that they weren't the most original outfit in Europe at the time.

But of course the same criticism applied to just about every secondhand Prog Rocker on the Continent in 1973. And while this first album certainly carried a heavy debt to their cross- channel role models, the young German quartet at least wore those influences in a more disarming, down-to-earth fashion (minus, for example, the obvious Floydian Space Rock clichés of other imitators).

The lack of an electric guitarist gives the music a relaxed pastoral quality, as heard in the gentle birdsongs introducing the side-long title track, before it kicks up a notch and becomes a fairly dynamic organ and synth-powered juggernaut. The epic 17-plus minute length is misleading, however: it's actually a six-minute song played twice, with a spacey spoken-word bridge in between.

And, despite the heavy emphasis on keyboards, there's a refreshing absence of spotlight- hugging pyrotechnics. Maybe for good reason: Lutz Rahn was clearly no Keith Emerson, and his organ solos (notably in "High Evolution" and "Laughing") were always more tasteful than tacky.

But the English-language vocals were a miscalculation, and not just because of the trite lyrics, although a song like "Inside of Me (Inside of You") can be ruined if you pay close attention to the words. Obviously it was a bid for wider geographic (i.e. British and American) sales, but the band's own cultural identity suffered as a result. Thankfully they learned their lesson quickly, and on future albums would reinvent themselves as a very German rock group.

As illustrated in the empty cover art there's nothing too distinctive here. But the album is nevertheless a very pleasant experience, especially for Prog fans wanting a well-oiled time machine to the Golden Age of European Symphonic Rock.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars After listening to the magnificent remastered version of the Konzerte CD I decided to revise Novalis discography since their debut. Banished Bridge was released in 1973, and it is quite a good album for a unknown act. However, their music is far from being mature or unique: in fact they sound similar to a lot of early 70´s Krautrock bands and this is specially true with the title track: a 17 minute opus which is more or less like the remaining of the album: interesting, melodic, promising, but still leaving that kind of unfinished feeling on them, like missing something. Even some spoken words are featured on this first track, another Krautrock cliche of the time. It is also very short (37 minutes). You expect more from a new band.

The most revealing absence is some truly guitar parts. Singer Jürgen Wenze is a good vocalist and plays a little acoustic guitar on two tracks, but clearly the instrumental parts, as good as they are with Lutz Rahn´s soaring keyboards and a good rhythm section, and unlike a band like Triumvirat that did not have much guitar and could get away without it, are in dire need of something extra. Also the songs all seem to be half cooked: good ideas that were not fully explored both in terms of songwriting and in musical performances. That does not mean they are bad, not at all. They are nice, but far from the Novalis we all know and love. Besides they are all sung in english, something they were about to change, The band would get a lot better very soon.

Conclusion: a good starting point for this great band, but far from essential: 3 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Novalis is a band that holds a special place in my heart. Actuelly I found the band and loved them years before I became aware of the subject prog. Their late seventies' romantic rock was a style that directly touched my heart. Novalis developed a special form of symphonic rock that was very rom ... (read more)

Report this review (#1288197) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, October 5, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Although this record is a debut album, it sure doesn`t sound like one; it possesses very rich and mellow melodies, dynamic organ moments as well as peaceful passages. This is indeed an overlooked beauty. The opener, which is the title track, is for me a highly emotional 5 star song. Starts with ... (read more)

Report this review (#141568) | Posted by taylanbil | Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dynamic and full of twists and turns. A remarkable achievement. This one features some of the sickest organ tones you'll ever hear. Really powerful and with vibrato used beautifully. Luitz Rahn is just a monster on this one! Frankly, I don't think anything else I've heard by them brings forth ... (read more)

Report this review (#88194) | Posted by Jeff Carney | Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My favorite Novalis album. Even better than _Sommerabend_. Just magical. The dynamics are utterly stunning. Lutz Rahn's keyboard work is fantastic. That organ! Wow! The melodies are very different to anything I've heard from Germany or anywhere else for that matter. Imagine a darker, more mela ... (read more)

Report this review (#39480) | Posted by | Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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