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Novalis Novalis album cover
3.81 | 197 ratings | 28 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sonnengeflecht (4:06)
2. Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hört (9:16)
3. Dronsz (4:53)
4. Impressionen (Anton Bruckner's theme) (8:55)
5. Es Färbte Sich Die Wiese Grün (Lyrics from Novalis, 1798) (8:16)

Total Time: 35:26

Bonus track on 2004 CD reissue:
6. Impressionen (Live *) (10:36)

* Recorded in Hagen 1975

Line-up / Musicians

- Detlef Job / guitar
- Carlo Karges / guitar, keyboards
- Lutz Rahn / keyboards
- Heino Schünzel / bass, vocals
- Hartwig Biereichel / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Günter Herrmann

LP Brain - 1070 (1975, Germany)

CD Repertoire - PMS 7063-WP (1997, Germany)
CD Brain ‎- 06024 982377-2 (2004, Germany) With a bonus Live track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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NOVALIS Novalis ratings distribution

(197 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

NOVALIS Novalis reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars Many years back I picked up NOVALIS' classic third album "Sommerabend" which has remained one of my all time favorite German prog delights. Acting very much as the pre-cursor to this masterpiece, their "second" album simply and yet strangely titled "Novalis" is another excellent album full of classic musicianship carrying a full accomplished sound throughout. NOVALIS' music is based on long concepts tracks performed in grand lush style with heavy use of organs and mellotrons, strings and bass. Most of their music is instrumental with some occasional non-intrusive German vocals. On their second album, NOVALIS added Carlo Karges (Ex-TOMORROW'S GIFT) doubling on guitars and keyboards. Out of interst, years later Karges would perform with Nena and be resposible for that aweful 1980's hit "99 Luftballoons"! The overall sound on this album is not unlike "Mirage"-era "CAMEL" or "ELOY's "Ocean" in many ways with floating keyboards and a heavy symphonic presence. On this album Novalis even perform a rock impression of Bruckner's 5th Symphony. An excellent album for of wonderful progressive moments.
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Novalis's second album is a good example of mid to late 70's German symphonic rock , although the album is also verging on the hard rock line as many of their peers did also. I am thinking of Birth Control, Jane on one side Eloy , Grobschnitt on the other. Novalis , unlike many bands, did not become professionals until 1978 (they had five albums done already) as they became really more and more popular with each new album but also as each one of those became increasingly commercial and less progressive - they say so themselves.

Three main changes between this self-titled album and their debut Banished Bridge: first the text/lyrics are in German , the producer is Achim Reichel (Embryo) and there is a very welcome guitar presence in the term of not one but two guitartist present here, most notably Karges (ex-Tomorrow's Gift and Future Nena"Luftballon"). Karges is especially an excellent addition as he will write exactly 50% of the tracks on this album and KB man Rahn the other 50%. The sound is still heavily KB rooted with the good old Hammond but also moogs , clavinets and all. However, the guitars bring in an equilibrium lacking on their debut and by now they sound a bit like the Deep Purple we all love but much more progressive than the Mk II line-up.

The 9 min+ pièce de resistance of side 1 is simply excellent with many twists and turns sprinkled with Wagnerian touches (well they are Germans , right) , but wait till you get to side 2 with the Anton Bruckner derived themed Impressionen and the last track with lyrics from romantic poet Karl Friedrich "Novalis" von Hardenberg and superb interplaying between Karges , Rahn and Job. With the latest re-issue , comes a bonus live track of Impressionen, a bit different than the studio and not interferring with the playing of the album.

After this album , Karges will leave , leaving Novalis to do a few more albums (less succesful artistically-wise IMHO, but I am in a minority) . This album is their pinnacle and shows best what theydid best , a sort of hard-prog so much in vogue in Germany during those years.

Review by Progbear
5 stars Novalis hit one out of the ballpark the second time round. Their original vocalist-Jürgen Wenzel-was now gone, but they brought in two very talented guitarists-Carlo Karges (ex-Tomorrow's Gift) and Detlef Job-in his stead. For the new conception of the band, they pioneer a "Romantic-Rock" style: classic German poetry (like that of their namesake Friedrich "Novalis" von Hardenberg) interpreted in a symphonic rock style, and original lyrics (e.g.: the classic "Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hört") in the same style.

With the electric spark created by Job's and Karges' interaction coupled with the band's new direction, the result was magic. The band immediately announce their presence in a big way with the instrumental "Sonnengeflecht", featuring one of keysman Lutz Rahn's most fiery and exciting synth leads. This leads into the aforementioned "Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hört", which pits a nature-inspired Hardenberg-style lyric against a twin-guitar duel that builds and builds in intensity. The tune became a concert favourite, and understandably so.

Another instrumental, "Dronsz", displays the band's ability for texture and nuance, as they go off on a spacier tangent. Rahn's highly effected organ and subtle, airy synth effects highlight the piece. "Impressionen", another instrumental, is the most classical-sounding piece on the album, inspired by a single string cascade from Anton Brückner's fifth symphony. The dynamics on the piece are superb, and it contains some of Rahn's finest organ work. The album closes out with "Es färbte sich die Wiese grün", the first tune to include a Hardenberg lyric, for which they became famous.

Seriously, one of the best German albums. Bassist Heino Schünzel sings, and while like Wenzel he's not a particularly inspiring vocalist, he does serve the music well. In fact, his voice seems well suited to singing poetic lyrics in German.

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars Last days this legendary German progrock band is HOT on the Prog Archives site! This fine album showcases their tasteful and creative ideas and is also my contribution to the 'Novalis-hype'!

1 - Sonnengeflecht (4:06)

This is a short but very varied piece featuring flashy synthesizer flights, halfway a surprising break with jazzy guitar and delicate piano and finally a swinging sound inlcuding the distinctive clavinet.

2 - Wer Schmetterlinge lachen Hört (9:16)

In this composition the climates change from a slow rhythm with mellow organ to propulsive rhythm-section with biting electric guitar and powerful organ waves. Halfway the music slows down and goes into a great build-up: mellow organ and high-pitched vocals, then a swelling rhythm-section with Mellotron, culminating in a sensational bombastic outburst featuring fiery electric guitar. Then a staccato rhythm, lush organ and senstitive electric guitar play, followed by a kind of prog 'n' roll like URIAH HEEP on "Live", very dynamic with powerful organ and electric guitar. The final part contains militairy drums and bombastic church organ chords, impressive!

3 - Dronsz (4:53)

Another short track, the climate is based upon atmospheric keyboard work and sounds a bit hypnotizing. Halfway slow synthesizer flights enter and it all becomes more bombastic featuring wonderful organ waves, the end is very sudden.

4 - Impressionen (8:55)

This composition is based upon a theme from ANTON BRUCKNER'S "Fifth Symphonie". It starts with a soaring Hammond organ sound and slow drum beats, then the climates change from mellow to more bombastic featuring a lush keyoard sound and a howling electric guitar (with some spectacular wah-wah), very compelling! The final part contains again impressive church organ-like waves.

5 - Es färbte sich die Wiese grün (Originaltext von Novalis um 1798) (8:16)

The first part contains a dreamy climate with romantic vocals, mellow organ waves and slow, very sensitive electric guitar runs and some fat sounding synthesizer flights. Then a break with bluesy electric guitar play, swinging clavinet and a short but spectacular distorted organ solo. The climates shift from shortly more bombastic with fiery electric guitar runs and dynamic drums into dreamy like the first part featuring wonderful strings and a biting wah-wah drenched guitar solo, what an exciting blend of symphonic and rock!


Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Without a room of doubt the best symphonic rock band from Germany, next come Wallenstein and Grobschnitt. This self title album presents a high musical level, simply equal to "Banished Bridge" and "Sommerabend". The first track is maybe the less impressive one but in a sense it features a beautiful intergalactic-symphonic theme played by keyboards and special rhythmical guitar lines. The second composition starts with a lyrical, semi acoustic theme with strong organ parts and bucolic vocals in German. A heavy organ / guitar duet emerges, punctuated by a beautiful, fragile, celestial female voice in the distance. Before coming back to the central theme, the track features an amazing rock 'n roll section. "Dronsz" is so good. This track reaches the listener into a heavy, moody « intersidereal » trip. A basic bass line and electronic effects in the background announce a cold but tremendous atmosphere. The composition progressively grows into a dark, creepy affair with really doom keyboards parts. " Impressionen » is a kind of neo-classical piece. The tune starts with a marvellous introspective organ sentence. Step by step the sound turns to something majestic and mysterious. The guitar solos are purely magic. "Impressionen » is a poetic, bucolic and reflective composition. It alternates semi acoustic elements, dreamy synth sequences and a sumptuous emotional, technical guitar solo. Real emotions, poetry and a complexity in writing constitute the major ingredients of this album.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

After an English-sung debut album full of predominant pleasant, eerie ambiences, Novalis refurbished itself and went for a more solid symphonic sound to create their second namesake album, a real gem of German progressive history. The band's sound is more patently robust, which is due in no small degree to the fact that the renewed line-up included two guitarists, Detleb Job and carlo Karges, with the former adding some additional synth input. So, both the guitar and keyboard departments are quantitatively augmented, but that's not the whole story. The compositions are more focused, combining subtle and bombastic ideas in a very fluid manner. Keyboardist Lutz Rahn can now tell that his musical vision finds a most adequate bridge linking his mind and the real world. "Novalis" is a manifesto of maturity, even anticipating the symphoinc line of work that their more celebrated compatriot band Eloy were yet to develop in their own time. The opener 'Sonnengeflecht' is a very enthusiastic instrumental whose playful spirit is clearly reflected on the synth driven melodic lines and layers. On the other hand, 'Dronz' is focused on a more somber spirit, bearing a somewhat opaque spirituality, although the ensmble never sounds to oppressive:dark nostalgia, not neurosis is what the listener has to expect from this evocative song. The guitar riffs and the rhythm section sure help things to keep a sort of constrained sound, very much in accordance with the song's overall mood. Now that we have described these two attractive pieces, it's time to check out the most majestic section of the album, that is, tracks 2, 4 & 5. Each of them is expanded across an 8 or 9 minute span, a factor that surely helps the musician to work deeper on their progressive sophistication. 'Wer Schmetterlinge lachen Hört' and 'Impressionen' comprise a very strong academic feel: the former has a cadence very related to Bach and Haendel, while the latter includes a portion of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony. The bombastic essence of the keyboard parts never gets exaggerated: Rahn (sometimes joined by Karges) knows how to keep some subtlety among the inherent pomposity of this sort of composition. 'Es färbte sich die Wiese grün' closes down the record exploring the most explicit side of Novalis. Its increasing energy is well controlled, leading to an elegant climax. A great closure for a great album - this is the album in which Novalis really starts to deserve their good reputation among prog collectors all over the world.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam


If someone would ask me why i do like prog music, this album would be the answer! I don't know of many albums i can say i prefer to this one.....Simple! maybe none. This recording is a magical trip to heaven; No less. The music is so beautiful, so magnificent, it's unbelievable that 5 guys in a studio came up with something like that; it should be an album with 300 reviews on PA, not twenty.

NOVALIS the album is the definition of what symphonic rock is and should sound like. Its' s dreamy, then it gest energized always with great taste. The sound is always lead by the organ of RAHN who is everywhere but the arrival of the 2 guitarists DETLEF JOB and CARLOS KARGES brings some punch into the music, but they are not here to take solos after solos. Like the organ, they just add textures to the music, creating new sound landscapes like 5 painters adding their own colors on their masterpiece.

There is an excellent balance between 3 instrumentals with some bombastic keyboards- but never being self indulgent.( Just listen once to the opening of ''IMPRESSIONEN'' and tell me if you have ever heard something as beautiful, yet powerful. An odyssey to a world i can't describe : 9mns of pure joy.) and 2 long vocals tracks where there is not one too many note played, just the right one with wonderful guitar parts from KARGES and the omnipresent dreamy sound of the organ and tasty sounds of synthetiser..

The words come from poems penned by the 18th century romantic german writer'NOVALIS'' (that was his nickname) and of course are the perfect match to the mood of the music.

Symphonic rock, prog rock at its very best; If you like ELOY, GROBSCHNITT, JANE,GENESIS, that's what you get, only better!Give a chance to this cd and you won't regret it!

One of my 6 stars album!!but i can only give.....


Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Novalis' second and self-titled effort is seen as their best by many and is rated accordingly. While this one is more animated and rocking to be sure symphonic prog bliss to me is as much about mood as anything, and for this reason I tend to prefer their next album "Sommerabend" to this one. The composition on Sommerabend blows this away. As great German prog goes I would also prefer the first Rousseau album to this one for the greater variety in sound and use of the flute, whereas this album relies almost exclusively on the keyboard element to wow you. It's not enough for me. With the exception of the magnificent 2nd track this album is just average.

"Sonnengeflecht" starts poorly in my opinion with some uninteresting and cheesy synth runs but does recover in the middle with some quiet guitar licks and brief piano before they are again squashed by the loud circus-clown synths and a return to the beginning part. The song feels like an introduction to the much more respectable second song but it should have been shortened to just the middle section. "Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hort" is really just an extraordinary symphonic masterpiece with about everything the romantic prog fan could want: sensitive vocals, acoustic guitars, fluid electric leads, delicate female vocals, crisp drum work and of course masterful keys. The mood and pace are generally quite upbeat. This is the kind of track that takes you straight to symphonic heaven. Every itch is scratched, one of Novalis' finest tracks if you forgive the obnoxious gong at the end, which I do. Unfortunately it is the peak of this album and is not sustained throughout. "Dronsz" is a cool, trippy assortment of experimental synth sounds set against a simple bass and drum beat. "Impressionen" has a long intro with a single cymbal and regimented bass line over synth before opening up into a bit to full grandeur. Mostly keyboards at work here but there are a few spicy guitar runs as well. "Es farbte sich die Wiese grun" is an effective harder symphonic gem with lots of excellent lead guitar runs. The pace is slow-medium with plenty of moody synth background and a few vocals but the rocking leads provide the money shot here. There is a bonus track on the Japanese reissue of "Impressionen" which was recorded live in Hagen in 1975. The sound quality obviously is not perfect but fans of Novalis will likely be thrilled at the chance to hear the group live in 1975.

The Japanese mini reissue is a gorgeous high-quality glossy gatefold of the wonderful cover art. It comes with a nice booklet of photos, bios, lyric sheet, and of course the live bonus track mentioned. The booklet notes that guitarist Carlo Karges passed away in 2001. 1970s Symphonic fans must sample Novalis and I would advise this: If you prefer upbeat and extravagant synth-dominated music start with this one. If you prefer moodier, spacier stuff start with Sommerabend but you should probably hear both as they are quite different in my opinion and represent the peak of Novalis.

Review by sean
4 stars This is a band that I feel probably should be more well known than they are, but probably aren't because most of the world doesn't speak German and a lot of people only like music in languages that they can understand. I personally don't understand very much German, but I really do appreciate this band, and even though I don't know what the lyrics mean, I can get a good sense of the feeling from the vocal delivery. The singing isn't the best I've ever heard, but it seems to suit the music. The music is organ dominated symphonic rock for the most part. The first song, Sonnengeflecht, is an instrumental piece dominated by a synth lead backed by some guitars with some nice wah effects. Eventually the clavinet takes over, giving the song a sort of funky feel. Then we get the first song with vocals, Wer Schmetterlinge lachen Hört, which is an extremely varied piece. It starts off a bit mellow and then the vocals come in, still mellow. When it gets to the extended instrumental section, the track builds up into a very rocking number, with some great guitar solos and organ work, before going back to the mellow feel for the last few verses. Next we get another short instrumental, Dronsz, an atmospheric keyboard dominated piece. After that is Impressionen, based on a theme from Bruckner's fifth symphony. It's another instrumental, like much of the album, but I think this is the strongest one out of them all. It's longer, and they explore the theme in many different ways, while adding in their own sections. The album ends with Es färbte sich die Wiese grün, with lyrics from the band's namesake, the German poet Novalis. It's a strong track to end the album with, and has alternating mellow/harder sections, with the lyrical sections being mellow. My copy has a bonus track of Impressionen being performed live. It doesn't have the best quality, but the performance is excellent, and it's good to see that the band could pull of these songs live very well.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars I considered to post my reviews for ''Novalis'' mainly due to the pushing insistence of my friend Febus. If I was totally charmed by their excellent debut album, I have to say that I had some major problem in their vocal orientation starting with this album.

The problem beingGerman lyrics. I have never been able to swallow these. They sound so alien to me that there are virtually no band that could thrilled me with such a characteristic (unless ''Kraftwerk'' who had enough humour to generate some tolerance).

The good thing is that there are lots of instrumental parts in this album which are saving the whole work like the gorgeous ''Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hört''. From symphonic to hard-rocking: it is an extremely good track but far behind of their super ''Banished Bridge'' which was the highlight of their debut album and from their whole career as far as I am concerned. If I abstract these vocals, the instrumental portions do their job pretty seriously. I would have loved this album (and some followers) to be fully instrumental. A track as ''Impressionen'' is of course great and needs the whole attention of any prog lover. A huge piece of prog music indeed: the keyboards are rendering such a formidable feeling all the way through. Do I need to tell you that some (short) guitar breaks are outstanding and deserve a special attention?

''Impressionen'' is a wonderful track. It is sweating passion all the way through and conveys such a wonderful feeling! This is my second best of the band after the incomparable ''Banished Bridge'' epic. Prog lovers should just be on their knees while listening to such a great track. This is a masterpiece and an absolute highlight form this album. Do I need to tell you that it is an all instrumental track? SUPERB.

The finest moments of this album are the fantastic instrumental passages. The fantastic and bombastic closing number ''Es Färbte Sich Die Wiese Grün'' is just a wonderful example. They are combined with short and pitiful vocal ones which are best forgotten. But they still exist unfortunately.

Still, the music which is proposed here is so good that the four stars rating is not a problem. If ever the vocal parts would have been decent or non-existing, the masterpiece status would have been easily reached. As such, four stars (désolé Antoine).

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The flipside of the Krautrock coin in the 1970s was the more benign sound of mainstream German Progressive Rock, and this fondly remembered Hamburg quintet was a model of its kind. Their self- titled 1975 album was actually the band's sophomore studio effort (after "Banished Bridge" in 1973), but this was where Novalis found its voice, and after some critical changes in personnel (adding an electric guitarist; subtracting an English-language singer) it might almost have been intended a second debut.

The group coined the phrase 'Romantic Rock' to describe their sound, but the music was more or less synonymous with the Classical / Symphonic Rock template already in vogue at the time. It's a style that may not have aged well, and never earned the highbrow retrospective praise reserved for the more subversive Krautrock of CAN or FAUST. But Novalis performed its own act of cultural protest when they scrapped the English lyrics already prepared for this album, henceforth singing exclusively in their native tongue.

Language issues aside, the band was still heavily in debt to its English role models. Thus the obligatory Hammond organ jam (shades of early KEITH EMERSON) briefly galvanizing the otherwise circumspect "Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hört", and the eerie but effective Space Rock of the aptly titled "Dronsz". The latter track distinctly recalls "Meddle"-era PINK FLOYD (Nick Mason and Novalis drummer Hartwig Biereichel might have been twins separated at birth), but with a decidedly Teutonic chord structure and instrumentation.

Elsewhere Anton Bruckner's 5th Symphony gets a lush cosmetic facelift in "Impressionen", and the late 18th century poetry of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenburg (alias Novalis) is borrowed for "Es Färbte Sich Die Wiese Grün". You'd never guess from the mouthful of a title, but the words are integrated so seamlessly into the song that they might almost have been intended as lyrics, two centuries prematurely.

Clearly this was a band looking backwards to the past for its inspiration. These boys weren't about to join the counter-culture demonstrations of their Krautrock compatriots, but the band's best albums (including this one) still hold plenty of residual nostalgia value, especially to those of us lucky enough to have heard it new in 1975.

Consumer postscript: the 2004 Revisited Records CD includes a live (and longer) bonus performance of the album highlight "Impressionen". Sonically it's a bit rough around the edges, but unlike the more polite, keyboard-centered studio version it features more of Detlef Job's blazing guitar work, cranked to maximum amplitude.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars The beautiful album cover is a clue to what's inside.The band called ther music "Romantic rock music", while others refer to it as poetic, dreamy, flowery etc. You get the idea. They named themselves NOVALIS after the great German romantic poet Friedrich Von Hardenberg who used the name "Novalis" instead of his real name when putting out his works. Actually the final track is a poem of his that the band put music to. The lyrics are sung in German and they suit the music well. Almost forgot to mention that TOMORROW'S GIFT guitarist (Carlo Karges) joined NOVALIS prior to this album, so they had two lead guitarists. He played an important role in writing a lot of the songs as well as playing.

"Sonnengeflecht" sounds so much like CAMEL to me. Very much a synth driven track early before the guitar then the piano take over. The guitar solo before 3 minutes is excellent. Then the original melody returns. "Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hort" has such a great sound to open with the organ, bass and drums standing out. Vocals come in for the first time on this album. Guitar after a minute then the drums become prominant. Vocal melodies after 3 minutes are a nice touch then we get a heavier sound a minute later with the guitar taking the lead. Check out the organ after 6 minutes !

"Dronsz" is an instrumental with floating organ leading off as the sound builds after a minute. Great sound after 4 minutes, kind of dark. "Impressionen" is another instrumental with floating organ again taking the lead. Drums join in. Guitar and a fuller sound before 2 minutes. The guitar lights it up 5 1/2 minutes in. Organ only 7 1/2 minutes in then it kicks back in. What a great track ! "Es Farbte Sich Die Wiese Grun" is a beauty with those reserved vocals to open with keys. What a beautiful sound a minute in as the guitar tastefully plays. More gorgeous guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. Keyboards take the lead before 4 1/2 minutes. The guitar sounds fantastic a minute later. A calm after 6 minutes as vocals return. The guitar is amazing 7 1/2 minutes in to the end.

Easily 4 stars for me. Relaxing, lush Symphonic Prog at it's best.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Granted the first cut on this band's sophomore release could double as the theme song to a cheesy cop show from 1974, but what the hell, I'm game. I mean, as cheesy TV music goes it's first-rate. At times considered a 'krautrock' band (to the extent that they played progressive rock and were from Germany), Novalis had been around since 1971 as amateurs making a lot of original music as well as fans along the way. After some success with their debut, the quintet began furiously jamming, creating, composing and improvising their way into this terrific second effort while holed-up in a windowless room, as recalled by drummer Hartwig Biereichel: "Far away from life and daylight, this was the place where we probably had our most creative and courageous phase as far as our music was concerned. Since we were completely cut off from what was going on outside, we felt free to celebrate musical excesses and jammed the nights away until we were completely exhausted."

I think it was worth it, at least for us. I don't know if comparisons quite work here, as the sound of music composed under such conditions is not easily spotted. One is reminded now & then of Rick Wakeman, distracting and probably unnecessary Floyd references, and fellow countrymen Triumvirat. As stated, opener 'Sonnengeflecht' is upbeat period flash-rock with Lutz Rahn's piercing synthesizers layered well and sounding bright, his Hammond H100 carrying nine-minute 'Wer Schmetterling Lachen Hort' as it spreads out with German angst and somberly crawls from its dungeon lair. Detlef Job and Carlo Karges handle some fine twin-guitar lines throughout and a brief Deep Purple impersonation occurs just before this track returns to its crypt. A familiar warble from Rahn quietly opens 'Dronsz', a classic German space bit that builds into a cosmic campaign. A theme continued for very good 'Impressionen', perhaps the zenith of the record and all very cleanly recorded. And a kinderorgel playfully begins the 8-minute closer, a grand one with towering synth sounds, soulful lead guitar and tolerable if odd vocalizations.

Pretty much indispensible for those interested in European symphonic/space rock, and a flavorful treat for the rest. Just under 4 stars. A live cut is included on the Revisited Records issue of medium sound quality.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Like contemporaries HOELDERLIN, and the late-comers ANYONE'S DAUGHTER, NOVALIS' self-titled album is actually their second, and this is fitting because it more closely represents the personality of the group during its peak commercial period. The two major changes are the addition of lead guitar and the switch to German vocals, with new singer Heino Schünzel. The music takes on a more typical German symphonic sound, and the organ and other keyboards, while still prominent, share the spotlight with the fretted instrument. While the sound is definitely heavier than on the group's debut, it isn't necessarily more vivacious.

The album is dominated by 3 lengthy cuts, all of which have some fine moments, like the oddly folkish sounding vocal melody of "Wer Schmetterlinge lachen Hört", bearing a resemblance to STEELEYE SPAN's "Sir James the Rose" in meter. "Impressionen" includes a haunting recurrent organ tune. "Es färbte sich die Wiese grün" is the best, beginning with eerie almost flute-like synthesizers that borrow from KING CRIMSON and will eventually bequeath to MIKE OLDFIELD in "The Lake". Heino seems most at home on the verses in this closing cut, and a harpsichord like riff provides a bass for the best guitar work on the album. The problem is, apart from these highlights, the album contains a lot of filler, even within the other signature tracks. The guitar solos are assertive enough but are clearly instantiated just to support the main theme, and do not enhance any elusive romantic quality or progressive masterpiece status. Regardless of whether or not this constitutes lazy composing and arranging, it doesn't impress me a whole lot.

Throw in a couple of instrumentals, one catchy and decent, and one dreary and convulsive, and you have an album slightly inferior to the group's debut, and just good enough to be rounded up and played annually.

Review by friso
3 stars Novalis - Novalis (1975)

Getting into the progmarket a few years to late, Novalis needed to prove itself with a modern approach. And they did. Almost no lyrics (only some Germen poetry), modern keys and synthesizors and some subtle guitarsolo's. The compositions are nice, but never very complicated. On this album Novalis plays in varied rythms and uses more different sounds then on other records. Sonnegeflect reminds me a bit to ELP's Peter Gun theme, but evolves in a descent opener. Wer Schmetterlinge lachen Hört is a track with nice vocals on a melody that's very catcy in a good way. The compostion shows classical backgrounds. A problem arising for the first time on the album here is the out of tune senthesizors Novalis uses. Just out of pitch, most of us wouldn't hear it, but it disturbes me a lot. This way some beatiful ideas are ruined on most of the songs. Side two has two eight minute songs that are both mainly instrumental.

Conclusion. I don't know what to write more about this album. It isn't very technically evolved prog, it isn't very atmospheric, it isn't epic, what is it? It is a no-bull[&*!#] symponic rock album with some great findings, but it never realy gets me. Symphoproggers should take a look at this, others might find better ways to spend their money and time. Three stars.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars According to current ProgArchives standings the sophomore album by German band Novalis is the most popular, but it's not my personal favourite. It has its moments for sure, including one killer track. However I think one or two of the band's later albums are better, but that's something to return to in future reviews. Keyboards largely dominate and there's some particularly effective use of the clavinet; this instrument is sadly overlooked by many keyboardists in my opinion. I'm not sure whether a string-synthesizer or Mellotron provides the string effects on the album. It's used quite sparsely whatever it is and it's also buried in the mix, so the argument is largely academic. The album contains 6 tracks (including one bonus track) and is mainly instrumental, with what vocals there are being in native German. I can't say I find German as aesthetically pleasing to my ears as the Romance languages but as I said, vocals are few and far between.

Sonnengeflecht is a fairly nondescript instrumental to get us under way. It starts and finishes with a funky beat of all things, although synthesizer and clavinet combine to good effect during the middle section. The structurally complex Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hort is one of only two tracks that include vocals, provided by bassist Heino Schunzel. It's an interesting piece but it really only grabs me around the mid-point of its 9 minutes, with Detlef Job's shrieking guitar leads. Unfortunately this is rapidly replaced by some straightforward Hammond-led boogie. Other than for a growl right at the start of the track, Dronsz is a space-rock instrumental. The first 3 minutes consist of guitar and synthesizer effects over a ground bass, gung-gung-tih, gung-gung-tih. We get a different beat for the remainder of the track, but it's still fairly relentless. Impressionen, based on themes by Austrian Romantic composer Anton Bruckner, is more like it! After a moody 2-minute introduction, we are treated to a series of different themes consisting of fiery guitar, swirling organ and synthesizer. The lyrics of Es Farbte Sich Die Wiese Grun are based on writings by the German Romantic author from whom the band took their name. This song checks all the right boxes but I just find it a tad dull. The final track is a live version of Impressionen that suffers from some serious distortion, especially in the drum department. This is a pity because it's an energetic and powerful performance.

All in all there's not a lot to get excited about here, and I can only stretch to describing this as a steady album. There is at the least one very good track so it's not quite at the 'fans only' level, therefore I'll give it 3 stars.

Review by lor68
3 stars Reminiscent of another German rock band with a strong progressive attitude (Eloy), sometimes enriched with a few hints of hard rock (fortunately- in a few circumstances only- reminding me of Uriah Heep), the present album is characterized by an Hammond sound, according to the 70's mood, as well as by a classical approach in the vein of Ekseption, like in the symphony # 5 by Bruckner (here also taken from a live act of their own, whose arrangement is particular...) . But the hard rock imprinting, even though not often present here, is a typical "trademark" of this 70's cult band, which never forget the roots of the basic classic rock of that period...In particular the song "'Es farbte Sich Die Wiese Grun'" is the unique example regarding a soft mellotron sound, coupled with the moog in a pop progressive mood, which sounds "strange" in this work.

This time We find a different style, in the vein of the romantic songs by Moody Blues and Procol Harum and probably it's the most spontaneous act within "Novalis"...besides in the other songs you can find interesting time changes, the presence of "wah-wah" guitars and various sound effects (in the territory of "space rock"), but it's not their main target (and above all the most natural one) in my opinion...well, if you like the romantic prog sound of the seventies, in a strange mix between Uriah Heep and also a kind of typical space rock genre, you will buy the present album; otherwise you could also evaluate it like a good work of the past, without pretensions; and at the end it could be worth checking out at least, for a 3 stars evaluation..remarkable memory of the seventies, after all!!

Review by stefro
3 stars Novalis' second album after 1974's 'Banished Bridge', this self-titled affair would see the group produce some of their most impressive work yet. Featuring a dreamy, synth-and-keyboard heavy symphonic sound, fluid guitars and motorik-grooved drumming, Novalis' sound actually has much more in common with the likes of Genesis, Yes and Druid than many of their German contemporaries, with the closest Teutonic touchstone being Grobschnitt in their more keyboard-orientated moments. Though the album does retain a spacey ambience, the psychedelic and experimental elements that dominate the krautrock genre are absent, with Novalis instead displaying a penchant for re-producing and updating classical sounds from the likes of composer Anton Bruckner and creating sumptuous, piano-led melodies imbued with German lyrics that fir surprisingly well. The group's most impressive member is keyboard- player Lutz Rahn, who drenches the entire album in a thickly-layered array of synthesized sounds but also gives the material a catchy, poppy lilt evident on the spiky opener 'Sonnengeflecht', a song that also features quicksilver guitars from multi-instrumentalist Carlos Karges. The group even have time to insert a few bluesy interludes on the long, winding 'Impressionen', whilst simultenously maintaining a shiny, futuristic sheen that gives the music a thoroughly contemporary feel. Though other albums would find Novalis fiddling around with this fluid formula, none of their later efforts would quite match the instrumental verve on offer here and the late 1970's would see a more commercially-orientated approach. However, on 'Novalis' at least, this quirky group did create something fairly special. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the charming debut, the classic artwork of the second Novalis album had me in a very positive and expecting mood. As it turned out, this is another typical second-tier symphonic album with some captivating music but suffering from vocals and compositions that are either too bland or too predictable to deserve a place amongst the best.

A typical example is the opening track which contains great symphonic space rock in the middle section. However, in order to get there you have to indulge the bland German crooner vocals of the opening. The symphonic magic will also be ended abruptly by the awkward change to hard rock 'n' roll around minute 6. In short, the band doesn't seem to have the ideas and musicianship to forge the good basic material into something really remarkable. The instrumentals Dronsz and Impressionen are better and have some potential to fans of early Floyd, Eloy, Camel and Genesis.

If you're looking for lost gems of the 70s symphonic prog scene I would generally recommend to look further south to Italy and not spend too much time in Germany. Even though the German scene has a very personal sympho-kraut sound, there are very few albums that rise above average. Take that from a big fan of the German 70s music scene.

Review by Warthur
3 stars The second Novalis album - self-produced and self-released - is a competently performed piece of symphonic prog which manages to be pleasant and listenable without really catching fire. The keyboard sound manages to range the whole gamut from capturing the sounds of the early 1970s to prefiguring some of the sounds that would creep in towards the end of the decade, which is pretty interesting, though the band don't exploit this to the extent that they could have. The guitar playing tends towards fairly tired and predictable solos of the sort we've all heard a million time elsewhere, and the drum sound seems to have suffered during the production process, sounding tinny and flat. Still, a sold three stars despite this.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The future of Novalis did not seem bright after their debut.An extensive tour both in Germany and abroad was too much for singer J'rgen Wenzel and the recordings of a second album were abandoned.Two years later though Achim Reichel rediscovered Novalis with a different line-up featuring two guitarists, Detlef Job and ex-Tomorrow's Gift Carlo Karges.Reichel helped the new Novalis sign again with Brain Records and a sophomore effort with Heino Schunzel handling also the vocals was released in 1975.It was simply entitled ''Novalis'' to notify the band's brand new start.

The now five-piece Novalis kept plenty of elements from the previous style, but the presence of the two guitarists made them sound richer and more flexible.This is still keyboard-driven Symphonic Rock, but synths are used constantly at the expense of the Hammond organ, while there are enough melodic guitar lines to offer an additional color.Eventually the band sounds a lot like the early works of SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING.Fans of their organ-driven debut sound won't be dissapointed either.The album contains plenty of Classical-influenced themes, delivered by the organ of Lutz Rahn and the synths are usually used in a very symphonic way.But there are also some deep Kraut/Space textures presented in ''Novalis'', either delivered through hypnotic synth-drenched preludes or by the striking guitars of the Job/Karges duo.Rahn though is always there to keep an overall romantic feeling, that dominated ''Banished bridge'', through his work on keyboards.

Very interesting German Symphonic Rock, not a pure masterpiece, but generally an album with beautiful and well-crafted instrumental adventures.The comeback of Novalis is of course strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by admireArt
3 stars Rehearing my cassettes.

I have had a couple of Novalis original and low priced cassettes since quiet a while. Although they never impressed me beyond singing in German, which is a relief, opposite to their fellow countrymen Progggers who tend to use the English language mostly. One of those cassettes is this "Novalis", 1975.

To their benefit, here in Mexico, Novalis was well known. Their sweet tooth for easy going "complex" Prog/Rock, their humorous touch and "tango" like epic structures, fitted in the "latin" flavors, so appealing in this lands. But nevertheless, their musical offerings stay short of becoming notable. To cut it short, they have a knack for cheesy melody solutions to their compositions, even the good ones.

The keyboards which are a BIG act on this recording's scope, as they can construct excellent "Jon Lord" or Jazz like structuring lines, as they can also turn any moment unexpectedly into less interesting cliches. Like a battle within, between being creative or being corny. At the end, one's listening experience has to decide to indulge or ignore, or both.

In my personal experience, since I aquired this recording, if I have not bought the cd, it is because it has not been that essential in the long run, but I have kept this "mechanical box" up to now, anyway.

3 "Good but not essential" PA stars.

Review by Lewian
4 stars Novalis come from my home town and my father, who was otherwise pretty ignorant about music, owned this probably due to their local hero status, so this was one of the first albums I discovered when I started to become interested in (prog) music at the age of 13 or so. I loved it at the time and still love it. The musicians may not be top notch (keyboard and guitars are fine, but the drummer struggles at times and the bass is solid but unremarkable and the voice is quite amateurish, although it fits the songs pretty well), the compositions may not be the most complex and innovative you can imagine. The big quality of this is the musicality, the inner logic of the compositions. There are quite some contrasts and tempo changes in the longer tracks, but all sounds organic; every turn makes intuitive sense, the melodies and harmonies work very well, the arrangements are tasteful, the soli have the right length and fit nicely with the remainders of the song. It's simply beautiful how the elements work together. Most of the time the music is instrumental. The two songs with lyrics (Es faerbte sich die Wiese gruen, Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hoert) are driven by beautiful romantic melodies, but also enriched by at times quite powerful rock instrumental parts. Impressionen is inspired by classical music and the most symphonic and keyboard oriented track.

The other two instrumentals, Sonnengeflecht and Dronsz, start a tradition of fairly short and straight but pleasant and atmospheric instrumentals of various moods that would run through all further recordings of Novalis until the very end. Actually, listening to these 40 years later, they have a quite timeless quality, and I think it's a pity that nobody tried to release a Novalis instrumental sampler when postrock was big - the energetic Sonnengeflecht could easily have appeared (with somewhat revised sounds) on a Tortoise album and the smooth, slowly intensifying Dronsz sounds now like Salarymen to me, except that Novalis was 20 years earlier. These songs are so friendly and unpretentious that I'd guess nobody would have considered them cutting edge but just good to listen to - still they are ahead of their time in a certain way.

Overall a very creative, fresh and pleasant album with just the right degree of complexity.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars German band Novalis came back two years after their relative insipid debut with a superb sophomore work. It is n coincidence that they decided to entitle this LP after their name, like so many new bands do: the Novalis ofd 1975 is completely different from 1973´s Banished Bridge. Gone is singer Jürgen Wenzel (bassist Heino Schünzel took over vocal duties), and, more importantly, they added not one, but two guitarists to flash up their sound: Detlef Job and Carlo Karges (ex-Tomorrow´s Gift), who also plays some keyboards. They also had a much better production job at the experienced hands of Achim Reiche (of Embryo fame, among others). the result is quite astonishing compared to Banished Bridge: the once thin Novalis sound now is fuller and much more dynamic, helped by a combination of good guitar fillings, more mature compositions and better production. The decision of giving up singing in english was maybe a good one artistically, but it prevented them to break into the international market, specially in England and the USA, where prog bands, even if not as much as at the beginning of the decade, were still quite popular.

The music here is much more symphonic prog than on their debut and they already delivered at least two classic songs: Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hört and Es Färbte Sich Die Wiese Grün, both great epic stuff featuring several mood and tempo changes, terrific keyboards/guitar interplay and nice vocals, beautiful melodies and tasteful arrangements. I specially like some funky wah-wah guitar playing on some parts that make their sound quite unique (only Nektar seems to be using such device at the time). The remaining tracks are instrumentals that although not as good as the longer epics are also of high quality. My only gripe with this CD is its short time: only 35 minutes. It ends too soon and keeps me wanting more.

Conclusion: with their second release Novalis found its voice and delivered a beautiful symphonic prog album. Not really a masterpiece, but still an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. Four stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Novalis! Here I go again with a review of an excellent album. Novalis is a German band who rocked the seventies with their romantic sound and I think it's appropriate to say that that sound was begun here on their second record with the name "Novalis" from 1975. The cover picture is wonderful. I ... (read more)

Report this review (#1288865) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Tuesday, October 7, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think the second albun of NOVALIS "Novalis" a indispensable item in any serious prog collection and the best albun of this band, I consider also fairly superior to "Banished Bridge" and "Somerabend", albuns which presents the same 4 stars in the P A. The fantastic overture of the first t ... (read more)

Report this review (#290853) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, July 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Does anybody Know novalis at all?. well if not i really recomend this one , there second one which is in my opinion a very good representaion of how to do it right. If you dont know (how could you not know they sing in it too) novalis are german and are from the few german symphonic bands . i ... (read more)

Report this review (#19860) | Posted by | Monday, May 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes, yes, yes... excellent stuff from Germany. When almost everywhere prog was on its sunset boulevard, in Germany for such bands as Novalis and Eloy the best had yet to come. Symphonic rock the way we like it. Another winner for this great group. ... (read more)

Report this review (#19857) | Posted by | Thursday, November 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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