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SOMMERABEND

Novalis

Symphonic Prog


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Novalis Sommerabend album cover
3.74 | 138 ratings | 29 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aufbruch (9:37)
2. Wunderschätze (Originaltext von Novalis um 1798) (10:37)
3. Sommerabend (18:17)
a) Wetterleuchten (3:50)
b) Am Strand (4:20)
c) Der Traum (3:50)
d) Ein neuer Tag (4:25)
e) Ins Licht (1:52)

Total Time: 38:31

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Hartwig Biereichel / drums
- Detlef Job / guitars, vocals
- Lutz Rahn / keyboards
- Heino Schünzel / bass, vocals

Releases information

LP Brain 1087 (1976)

CD Repertoire PMS 7079-WP (1997)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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NovalisNovalis
Import
2004
Audio CD$6.49
$6.46 (used)
FlossenengelFlossenengel
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$9.56
$17.47 (used)
AugenblickeAugenblicke
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.21
$5.80 (used)
SommerabendSommerabend
Import
Universal Import 2001
Audio CD$6.74
$11.23 (used)
Banished BridgeBanished Bridge
Import
Repertoire 2002
Audio CD$44.95
$35.98 (used)
KonzerteKonzerte
Brain / SPV 2009
Audio CD$76.13 (used)
BrandungBrandung
Import
Repertoire 2002
Audio CD$194.94
$67.00 (used)
BumerangBumerang
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.21
$6.88 (used)
Letztes Konzert 1984Letztes Konzert 1984
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.36
$17.73 (used)
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NOVALIS Sommerabend ratings distribution


3.74
(138 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
30%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
49%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

NOVALIS Sommerabend reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars If you listen to this one and the following album (Brandung) , you will find out where this neo -prog sound started even before Script from Marillion started the genre. Typically the type of symphonic album that was very influential in the early 80's. However, I find that the previous self-titled album much better and more inspired and energetic.

The music developped here is so very symphonic and beautifully melodic and if you listen you will see dwarves and elves hanging from the trees and have this princess of your dreams giving you a fabulous blowjob. And all of these fantastic fantasies will end as the record ends, that your mental masturbation was not the only one you have indulged in and you will have a hard time forgiving those musicians as you wipe those white stains from your electric blue carpet. Of course the very goal of this music is to make your mind wander around on a Summer Evening (Sommerabend) and this side-long epic will have a successor in the following Brandung album: Sonnenwende. The shorter tracks are along the same mould of symphonic rock.

There is one cliché (the stains ;-) ) definitely not used enough in the future neo-prog genre. Apart from that, this still worth a listen (probably not a handjob though) as this is truly one of the better later 70's German symphonic prog.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#19863) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Sommerabend" is nothing short of great symphonic prog with 3 nice long epic tracks. NOVALIS blend hypnotic song elements with clean crisp progressive passages. Lyrics are in German and are quite good fitting in well to the mood and atmospheres here. NOVALIS have a very traditional German underground feel to their work especially with the keyboard and guitar sounds. "Sommerabend" is very well recorded and offers superb stereo separation. Sound effects are used sparingly, but those present add quite a bit of depth to the music and work well. Once again this is a very complete recording and offers a nice wide range of musical variation to please most prog fans. Recommended!

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#19864) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004

Review by Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I should've tried NOVALIS much sooner, "Sommerabend" has became my first dive in to one of Germany's top prog rock bands. The band was smart to sing in their native tongue, avoiding many of the criticisms of other German bands singing in English, such as GROBSCHNITT or ELOY. They only sung in English on one album, and that was "Banished Bridge", their debut, and they figured out real quick that the English language wasn't suited for them.

Anyway, "Sommerabend", German for "Summer Evenings", which is their third album, is generally regarded as their high point. The album consists of three lengthy cuts (side two is the side length title cut). The album opens with the instrumental "Aufbruch", which is almost fusion-y in places, thanks to the inclusion of electric piano. The second cut, "Wunderschätze" uses text from NOVALIS (that is, the German poet who used that name and that the band got their name from), but the album's real winner is the sting synth heavy side length title track. Half the cut tends to be drenched in string synths, with that "Dark Side of the Moon" pace. I really dig the second movement, "Am Strand", where keyboardist Lutz Rahn created some spooky sounds off his string synths. Things picks ip on "Ein neuer Tag", then the beginning theme of the album repeats at the final movement called "Ins licht".

Regardless, "Sommerabend" is a nice addition to your German prog rock collection, and even more so if you like bands like ELOY or GROBSCHNITT, but don't fancy the English vocals from German guys who barely have the grasp of the English language.

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#19865) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Novalis incarnated one of the finest expressions of German symph prog, with their third album 'Sommerabned' being regarded by many as one of their top achievements. Tehir prog style is heavily influenced by Nektar, 73-75 era Pink Floyd - just similarly to their more veteran compatriots of Eloy -, and to a certain degree, 70-71 era Genesis and early BJH. The compostions are not too complicated, but despite their relative simplicity, the melody lines and harmonic textures are quite attractive and effective: Rahn's role on keyboards proves to be crucial at his point, creating the perfect ambience for Job's guitar solos and some of his own, while the rhythm section allows the themes breathe at ease, in an evocative manner. The opening instrumental is a powerful entry, IMHO, the best number in the album, since its energy is managed with gentle skill. 'Wunderschätze', whose lyrics are teaken from a Novalis' poem, starts in a lyrical mood with a prominent role for acoustic guitar arpeggios: later, in the interlude and the closing section, things get a bit harder in order to prepare the way to the bombastic climax. Finally, the namesake 18-minute suite comprises the "best of both worlds", that is, the energy of track 1 and the lyrical introspectiveness of track 2. IMHO, this is the less successful number in the album, since it fails to create a more varied structure that would have made perfect sense otherwise, given the overall duration of the track. With too few tempo changes, only the cleverly crafted chord changes that take place now and then keep this suite from becoming monotonous: anyway, the performers' finesse is always there, and all in all, this is a very good album. Recommended, though not a masterpiece.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#19869) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 07, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've never directly read any of the work of the poet Novalis, but one of my favorite classic fantasy authors is C. S. Lewis contemporary George MacDonald, who quoted Novalis often at the beginning of chapters in his melancholy books. The band NOVALIS seems to share in the weighty solemnity and tragic beauty characteristic of German Romanticism, and "Sommerabend" is a worthwhile listen for almost anyone who likes thier music big, somber, and full of classic 70s prog textures.

Like countrymen ELOY and NEKTAR (and foreigners like PINK FLOYD, during the 70s), the music has stripped and stark instrumentation that nevertheless creates an evocative and occasionally eerie mood. Guitars are generally favored over keyboards, though the occasional synth lead or organ chording appears with exquisite restraint and appropriateness. The dry production allows every instrument plenty of room in the mix, even the occasional sound effect or synth burble. Some of the melodic structures in the heavy guitar-driven instrumental "Aufbruch" almost remind me of early RUSH, with much less emphasis on virtuosity (and of course the addition of keyboards to broaden the sonic depth). The introduction of vocals on "Wunderschatze" add yet another layer of somber expressiveness, infrequently tending towards melodrama (but still fairly low- key for the prog genre). This track comes to a crashing, inevitable crescendo under a warm analog synth lead and ever-intensifying percussion, never feeling forced but possibly just a shade on the repetitive side. Finally, the side-long title track takes all these elements and develops them with deliberate and tasteful restraint; it doesn't quite have the uniqueness of a track like PINK FLOYD's "Echoes", but it sacrifices the wilder experimentalism for a more tangible prog rock weight. The choral parts can be distracting (the "Jesus Christ Superstar" stage show syndrome relatively common in 70s prog) but they're undeniably dramatic and well done in any case. If these songs were just a little more creatively inspired, "Sommerabend" would be an essential classic.

Though fans of faster or more complex rhythmic and melodic structures may find them somewhat plodding at times, the repetition and slow build in the songs are really quite dramatic, even hypnotic. Much like ELOY or many of the Italian bands of the 70s, I find NOVALIS comfortingly warm and classic-sounding to my ears, and would have no difficulty recommending them to any hardcore classic prog fan. Their appeal for those with more experimental, modern or Neo-prog tastes is more limited, but the depth and Romantic Teutonic heavyness makes them worth a listen for just about any symphonic prog fan.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#19872) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Make no mistake about it ... Novalis's Sommerabend is for the large part, a boring album. This music is occassionally pleasant, but rarely anything more and on the basis of this album alone, I'd say that there are hundreds of prog groups out there that deserve your attention before you try Novalis.

While one can detect the influence of Mannfred Mann's Earth Band, Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream's mid 70s albums from time to time during the course of this record, Novalis never approach the power of those three bands, lacking the compositional skills and in the cases of a couple of members, the instrumental skills too. To me, they attempt to plough the same territory as compatriots Eloy but are far less successful. (I should probably inform potential listeners that I'm not really fond of the neo-progressive sound and on the basis of this album, Novalis seems more like a forerunner of that genre than a true symphonic progressive band.)

This album comprises three lengthy pieces ... a dull opening instrumental called Aufbruch, a balladic piece called Wunderschatze (which sails far too close to The Scorpions' territory to be of interest to most prog fans) and the 18 minute long title track, which probably contains most of the album's best moments but also has its share of tedious passages.

I should probably say that I do prefer keyboardist Lutz Rahn's pallette of sounds to that of guitarist Detlef Job's. His usage of spacey synths, warm organs sounds and the odd (and all too brief) Moog-like leads work better than his counterpart's orthodox rock playing. There are a few moments of excitement over the course of the album ... like a recurring melody which kicks off the first piece and comes in towards the end of the third, the start of a classically-influenced piano solo in Wunderschatze (before the guitarist takes over and ruins it!) and a few minimalist synth solos and one powerful moment 13 minutes into the title track when synth and organ play off each other ... but they're not really worth sitting through the whole album for. ... 28% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#19873) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 06, 2005

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This one is still a rather better output of them compared to these ones coming after. Of course not as strong as "Banished Bridge" or "Novalis".It's a bit reminiscent to CAMEL-Snow goose-era, which was one year before this one. Actually what I find mainly outstanding with this band, is not so much the instrumental section, which is good, but far from perfect, but they transforming very nicely lyrics of the german romantic poet with the same name (or to be correct the band is called after the poet). Maybe it's essential to understand the language or even to be a native speaker, to fully appreciate the beauty of their music. My favourite album of them is the self-titled one, especially the song "Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hört", but this one here keeps as well still the standard of that album. Actually there are few german bands with lyrics in their native language, I can appreciate, Novalis being the best of them, at least on their first few records. As a summary I'd like to say that this record might be considered as an essential one of the german prog scene and recommended to anyone who likes nice acoustic guitar combined with CAMEL-esque keyboards and german poetic lyrics.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#19874) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 06, 2005

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Woah dude, smells like Cheech and Chong here.

Okey dokey, the're a band we don't often as a reference. This ain't a bad album at all. It has a heavy cloud of smoke over it, and how. The whole album has, what I call, a huge weed factor. Oh yeah, this is a good example of a floating, spacey, dreamy record to just lie down by the fire and let your mind fly wherever it wants. But get a load of the german singing! You like it or not. But the sang parts are too rare to ruin the feeling, au contraire, it feels like summer camp with a bunch of german hippies. But admit it, german is not the language to pick up a girl in a bikini.

This album don't really deserves to be a real classic due to the fact of the romantic side is taking the lead on the space side. This could've been one major trip without the sappy singing. But it's still a very, very good record to enjoy outside, just gazing at the fire or sharing booze with a raccoon.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#19876) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This German progrock band delivered some outstanding albums in the Seventies (by the way, the name Novalis is derived from a romantic German poet). This record is one of their best and especially the titletrack is magnificent. The first part contains a dreamy atmosphere: a slow rhythm with soft drums, strings, synthesizer sounds, twanging acoustic guitar and pleasant German vocals. The sound is a bit hypnotizing but very 'symphonic', especially when a sensitive electric guitar joins, the strings and synthesizer flights sound louder. Suddenly, after a short silence, the music accellarates with bombastic synthesizer runs and catchy electric rhythm guitar. Now the German vocals are accompanied by floods of organ and fiery electric guitar runs. It's great to hear such sumptuous sound after that long, dreamy first part! Then the rhythm slows down until we hear the same climate as in the beginning: a twanging acoustic guitar, lush strings, sizzling synths. Keep on dreaming the music seems to whisper! WUNDERBAR!!

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Posted Saturday, June 25, 2005

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A bit of a come-down after their great second album. This was their first album produced by Achim Reichel (of legendary Hamburg beat band the Rattles) and recorded in his then-new studio Rüssl Studios. The result is a very thin-sounding production that swamps the album, with Rahn's string-synthesizer pretty much drowning everything else out. A lot of the nuance that made their prior album so great is lost here as a result.

Karges is gone by this time, leaving Job as the only guitarist, so the interaction between the two of them that made that self-titled album so exciting is likewise missing here. He and Schünzel are now sharing the vocal duties. They essentially duet on "Wunderschätze", another song with a lyric based on a Hardenberg poem, and probably the high point of the album. Job's whisper-thin, tentative vocals don't add a lot to the piece, and Schünzel would probably have been better singing solo (strangely, after Fred Mühlböck joined on as frontman, Job continued to sing lead on the odd tune, while Schünzel-who reportedly hated singing-never sang lead again).

The album is balanced out by "Aufbruch", a jazzy instrumental based around Rahn's electric piano, and the 18 minute title suite, which goes through various moods. As previously stated, the poor quality of the production causes a lot of the texture to be lost, which is a bit of a shame.

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Posted Friday, August 12, 2005

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Content Development & Krautrock Team
4 stars If you purchase this album by the teutonic Novalis don´t imagine to find krautrock "cosmic" delirious excentricites, this "Sommerabend" is rather sobre, symphonic in structure and stays nearer to works offered by english bands as Camel...A few moody, acoustic interludes and their great sense of musical introspection can sometimes reveal some influences from this typical german krautrock heritage. They definitely put the stress on varied musical textures, including beautiful, enchanting epic melodies. Sometimes plaintive their music can illustrate as well the dramatic and grandiose poetry of Friedrich von Hardenberg Novalis (the song "Wunderschätze" includes a text taken from Novalis poetry). The music alternates moods and instrumentations in a clever sense, alawys expressed with a lot of feelings and an emotional regard on the content. "Sommerabend" also includes beautiful acoustic guitar parts. Sorry for the scpetics but the vocals are strictly in German. A very recommended album which deserves the attention of collectors. It also perfectly demonstrates than occasionaly german progressive musicians can make excellent symphonic rock

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Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Novalis produces here a German progressive rock album with some symphonic and spacy elements. The keyboards mainly consist in dirty Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes, moog and more modern floating streams of keyboards a la Eloy or a la Tai Phong. The lyrics are in German. On "Aufbruch", there are some influences from progressive bands Eloy (for the densely floating keyboards), Nektar (for the rhythmic riffs and organ), Kayak (for the electric guitar solos and organ). On the epic "Sommerabend", some moog arrangements give the track an Italian symphonic progressive style a la Le Orme or Banco; the slow bass and drums remind Pink Floyd or Eloy; the acoustic guitar is good, despite there is a long & repetitive bit; the couples of electric guitar solos and the floating organ and keyboards remind Tai Phong. On "Wunderschatze", the combination of the acoustic guitars and floating keyboards remind the progressive band Tai Phong.

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Posted Monday, May 15, 2006

Review by Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An album whose reputation might be a wee bit overblown. For sure, if you like string synths, this is the record for you. Novalis's sound at this time was lush, with layers of keys (primarily string synth, organ and el-piano) and acoustic guitars making up the bulk of the sound. There is also some decent electric lead playing. The band's problem is the three long compositions don't really go anywhere. They are repetetive without being meditative, with the exception of the first half of the title track, which is very pretty, with water sounds layered over sustained keyboard chords and broken acoustic guitar chords. This is the only part of the record that really holds my attention. Vocals are sparse but all right, not particularly charismatic. The band is unconvincing when they try to pick it up, sounding a bit sloppy and not particularly rocking. Overall, however, I do have to say that the mood of the record is contemplative, which I enjoy. Definitely from the Pulsar/Eloy school of symphonic. A decent record, but I do hope it's not their best, because it's a bit middling.

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#83998) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 17, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Novalis is one of the German symphonic bands that only knew from this site. At the time I was not aware at all about this band and I think it tends to be overlooked by most proggers that I knew or probably I was out of date? The band created good symphonic progressive rock built around keyboard and guitar themes augmented with aural soundscapes. As you might expect from old symphonic prog bands, Novalis uses soaring guitars floating along synthesizer, Moog and organ. The music is highly emotional and engaging, and full of memorable melodies. What I enjoy about the band in addition to its composition, is the language they use using native German. To me, this is a big plus in terms of projecting a good atmosphere of their music - even though I know nothing about German language. It does not matter to me, 'coz music is emotion! Some reference I retrieved about the band, "Novalis" was named after the pen name of the German romantic poet Karl Friedrich von Hardenberg and adapted many of his German language poems into their music throughout their career.

This album might be what you'd expected from old school progressive bands with its musical tendency on symphonic style. There is another factor that also represents the early prog music: dark. Yes, you can find dark nuance all over the segments of three tracks musical journay of NOVALIS Sommerabend. When I tell you this, you might imagine that this album is projecting a kind of music with complex arrangements and not a straight-line structure. Nope! You won't get that in here, I assure you. Almost all of compositions were made in its simplest form with relatively mellow tempo. There is nothing here that you find like Genesis' "The Return of The Giant Hogweed", or Yes "Roundabout" where they have an upbeat tempo. The music of NOVALIS Sommerabend is somewhat floating, ambient and spacey (sometimes) with keyboard-drenched style. Oh yes, if you like a kind of music packed with keyboards in symphonic style - this is definitely for you.

How can I describe the music of NOVALIS Sommerabend? It's a combination of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Camel, Eloy and a bit of ELP - but in slower tempo. Have you ever heard Symphonic Slam? It's probably like that.

The album starts nicely with a long instrumental piece "Aufbruch" (9:37). For those of you who enjoy slow moving music with multilayer and long sustain keyboard / synthesizer work augmented with guitar fills in the vein of Hackett, this is the track for you. Some of you might feel it boring - as is the case with my colleague collaborator Trotsky. But some might get emotioanally engaged with this song. Next track "Wunderschätze (Originaltext von Novalis um 1798) (10:37)" is another similar style with the opening track but this time with vocal. The album title track "Sommerabend "(18:17) is basically an epic that comprises five parts: a) Wetterleuchten (3:50), b) Am Strand (4:20), c) Der Traum (3:50), d) Ein neuer Tag (4:25), e) Ins Licht (1:52). It has a soft landing slow moving intro with a bit boring rhythm section (a combination of guitars, bass, synthesizer, drums in repeated chords). But again, this might be engaging for some of you.

Overall, this is a good addition of any prog music collection. Those who love vintage prog and even neo prog can easily enjoy this album. The strength of this album relies on melodies as well as floating keyboard / synthesizer themes combined with guitar fills. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#90573) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Wonderful German symphonic.

Sommerabend is a melodic example of 70s symphonic which brings to mind Camel or possibly a more sunny answer to Animals era Floyd.

"Aufbruch" is a nice instrumental piece moving at a mid-tempo with repeating electric guitar and lush keyboard. The guitar line does seem quite similar to the lead from the Snow Goose and is effective. Drumming is respectable although nothing mind-shattering.

"Wunderschatze" begins in similar fashion but with pleasant acoustic guitars before the first vocals begin at about 1 minute. The German vocals are pretty good although somewhat robotic in sound. The pace here is fairly slow and deliberate. At about 4 minutes the pace picks up and things begin to rock for a while but soon the acoustic and vocals return and this pattern continues.

The 18 minute title track is last and begins with some spacey sounds over serene keyboards. Things build very slowly and it could be debated whether opportunities are missed here, or whether they are masterfully sticking to the game plan. The song again goes through series of serene passages and rocking ones before floating away peacefully. It does work for me but this is not exactly "Close to the Edge" intensity.

Sommerabend can seem one dimensional at times as though nothing extraordinary is happening. Those seeking groundbreaking composition could be disappointed by this. I think they are successful at creating a very nice mood for those who simply want to kick back and enjoy some melodic prog. The title translates to "Summer Evening" and indeed the music conveys this aesthetic. For me this is a 4 star album which I enjoy very much without even understanding the vocals, but I can't recommend that highly "for any prog collection" because frankly it will bore some. The cover art is simply perfect for the dreamy and lush music inside.

In conclusion, a must for lovers of melodic 70s prog but not essential for more adventurous thrill seekers. 3.5 stars.

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Posted Saturday, May 12, 2007

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
2 stars The idea of a lazy laid back summer evening as inspiration for a symphony of sorts is itself inspired, and Novalis possesses the dreamy atmospherics to fulfill the promise. The group exhibits a quality one can only descibe as patience, in the way they build up melodic themes over long and languid passages. The blend of the Frippian acoustic guitars (think Epitaph) and keyboards seems to be the preferred mix, and it works on "Wunderschätze", bolstered in the vocal department with the confidence that comes with singing the lyrics of a renowned and long deceased German poet.

The trouble is that this subdued-to-the-point-of-comatose approach is ultimately boring. The buildups simply don't have enough climax, and by the time the pace is picked up near the end of the lengthy title track, it's really too little too late, and comes across as more absurd than anything else. Moreover, its vocal lineage is too closely related to that of "Wunderschätze" with considerably less charm. If you want genuine relaxation, go with an album by Nightnoise or Andreas Vollenweider.

Whatever impact this may have had at the time of release has now dissipated in fine columns of smoke wafting from some distant bonfire on the summer evening from whence it sprung. It is now just pretty, and pretty dull.

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Posted Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars CAN NOVALIS FOLLOW UP WITH ANOTHER MASTERPIECE! YES!! (almost)

This album SOMMERABEND just follows the path taken by its predecessor S/T NOVALIS album.One of the 2 guitarists CARLOS KARGES already left after only one album, but listening to SOMMERABEND, you won't notice the difference as DETLEF JOB is doing a great job. Moreover, this is the band of keyboardist LUTZ RAHN anyway!!

There are only 3 tracks; 2 10ms-ish for thr first side and a long suite on the second side of the then-LP. Let's be straight: the first 2 tracks keep the momentum of the precedent LP. Majestic music, lavish instrumentations, only in good taste. The first track AUFBRUCH is quite an energetic instrumental that will lead you again to one of this wonderful world where everything is beautiful. The same goes with the poignantly sung second track WUNDERSCHUTZE. How is it possible to create such magnificent music?? 2 absolute gems that every prog lover SHOULD listen to.

The good thing is that NOVALIS was quite successful,not like bands like YES or GENESIS of course , but they sold relatively well in their native Germany and neighboring countries. Of course the fact to sing in German was not going to open the doors of the rest of the world for them.

The suite SOMMERABEND starts wonderfully with synths layers that bring you once again to this dreamy country where the grass is greener, the sky bluer, the women beautiful , lead by gentle and wise wizards ,where everybody loves each other, but the piece drags a little bit after that with this repetitive acoustic guitar, but things get better later with a -of course-wonderful guitar solo and great singing from DETLEF JOB. It even gets ''wild'' (but not too wild-hey it's NOVALIS!) after that , but overall the result is not on par with NOVALIS first 2 songs.

So it's not one of my 6 stars album, but that still very good music and a highlight of my collection! Should be in your collection too, ELOY, early GENESIS ,NEKTAR lovers!!

4.5 stars rounded to

5 STARS

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Posted Friday, August 03, 2007

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If you are ever looking for a lush, sympho-prog album full of great music then look no further. German bands signed to the historic 'Brain' label are (almost) guarantee'd to deliver something special for your 'third eye'. Novalis churned out some really effective albums during the 70's, reaching a profound peak with this release, 'Sommerabend' (Summer Evening), their 3rd album. Closest comparisons could be with PINK FLOYD and ELOY from the same period (thanks to the 'deep' and 'spacey' atmospheres, but I did say, 'could' ). Opening with a lengthy instrumental, 'Aufbruch' (9:37), where all the desired ingredients are instantly blended to form a tasteful tune powerful enough to take you in for a 'romantic' journey. The strong Keyboard presence of Lutz Rahn mainly responsible for some mesmerising feelings (String Synth for the most part, tasteful Hammond Organ and Electric-Piano arpeggios - Mini-Moog for the lead synth solos elsewhere on the album) and proficient Lead-Guitar parts courtesy of Detlef Job. The Rhythm section is competent enough to serve as a solid foundation for the aforementioned soloists. The compositions here aren't particularly complex, but surely tasteful and lively enough to be taken notice of. 'Wunderschatze' is built around a quite 'Floydian' melody, which builds and mellows (or is it 'ebbs and flows' (??) throughout its 10:37 duration, the lyrics taken from German philosopher Freidrich von Hardenberg (yes, I had to refer to my Columbia Encyclopedia, Vol 16...) and is a wonderful track, guitarist Detelf Job singing beautifully, and Bassist Heino Schunzel sounding a fraction off-key (to these ears, anyway). Side 2 taken up by the intoxicating title-suite, Sommerabend, going through all the right moves, encompassing all that was 'hip' within the symphonic category of the era, basically featuring the same sound as side 1 but incorporated into an extended composition which travels along impeccably, transporting the listener into a dream-world of beauty. Within its 18:17 duration, the drifting flow is only broken up by an up-tempo section with some massed vocals. The acoustic-guitar sections are quite inspired. Fantastic record, me being a stubborn vinyl-head !!.

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Posted Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ''Sommerabend'' is yet another beautiful and purely symphonic album. It consists of only three tracks of which ''Aufbruch'' features delicate guitar, bombastic keyboards, demoniac beat and such fine melodies! This song is extremely pleasant, mostly because it is an all-instrumental (I'm quite resistant to German lyrics). It is not of the calibre of their great epic ''Bansihed Bridge'' but it is very well built and truly convincing. It is a highlight.

The problems start as soon as vocals make their appearance on the album. I can't bear these dull and flat German lyrics on such great music. ''Wunderschätze'' displays so beautiful passages, so emotional guitar that it is a real shame to mix them with such pitiful vocals. The positive point is that instrumental parts are weighing a lot more than sung ones. The bombastic finale is particularly superb.

The title epic starts as a beautiful and grandiose spacey Floydian track. These are really two great minutes which aren't quite confirmed during the long and acoustic part that follows. It is all repetitive, even if background keyboards are rather aerial. To be honest, the short vocal part is not too bad here: sweet and discreet.

Most of the rest is a pure symphonic delight thanks to the sublime guitar work displayed by Detlef Job and the soft synthesizers from Lutz Rahn. Still, vocals during the upbeat section aren't thrilling. I would really have loved some English lyrics in here.

It goes without saying that instrumental parts featured on this album are simply great. My rating of the whole can't go over four stars for the reasons I have already evoked several times. Still, ''Sommerabend' is a very good album. In line with the very good work achieved so far. I dedicate this review to my friend Febus: hold on my friend. There is light after the tunnel.

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Posted Saturday, November 29, 2008

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Greg Northrup from the "Progweed" site mentions in his review that NOVALIS were the best Symphonic band to come out of Germany, and that this album that he says "blew me away" was their opus. He goes on to say : "Think "Ocean"-era ELOY but with a warmer, more romantic and earthy feel, not to mention more musical consistency...in addition the album has very crisp production, with lush moogs, biting synthesizer, warm bass and bright emotional guitar solos". He says it better than I could. Like Greg I was completely blown away with this album. The title of it means "Summer Evenings" and it's so appropriate as we get a breezy, lazy and calming mood that couldn't make me feel any better. I'm humbled at how beautiful this record is.The vocas are in German and are reserved. Some backing vocals come in at times too which sound really good. Only three tracks on this 38 1/2 minute album. It's just right.

"Aufbruch" is an instrumental that opens with water sounds before this outstanding soundscape takes over. Nice chunky bass and keys .Guitar 2 minutes in with the organ in tow. Incredible sound ! Check out the organ 5 minutes in.The guitar is back leading after 7 minutes before the keys end it with pleasure. "Wunderschatze" has some good bass in the intro before it settles with acoustic guitar melodies. Vocals after a minute. Gorgeous. Vocals stop before 4 minutes and this incredible soundscape takes over with bass, organ and guitar. Amazing ! Check out the drumming 5 minutes in as the guitar lights it up and the organ pulsates. Oh my ! It settles again 6 minutes in and vocals follow. Beautiful. The tempo picks up a little with drums leading the charge.

"Sommerabend" is the side long title track at 18 1/2 minutes. Drums and spacey synths early before we get some strummed guitar before 4 minutes as the sound changes. Water sounds follow and the synths are back. The vocals before 6 1/2 minutes are reserved, they stop 2 minutes later as acoustic guitar takes over. Then this emotional and powerful soundscape comes in before 9 minutes. Vocals are back ! Gorgeous. It kicks in after 12 minutes and we get some backing vocals a minute later. It settles back after 14 1/2 minutes to that beautiful soundscape and the guitar is crying out. Reserved vocals are back, it's all so moving. After 16 1/2 minutes to the end the sound is beyond description as the tears fall.

I've discovered another special record.

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Posted Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Review by 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.

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Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Novalis' third is probably their best and most successful attempt to create beautifully flowing laidback symphonic rock. But there are some remaining flaws in their songwriting causing the album to remain just below excellence.

Aufbruch opens nicely with an instrumental that could have perfectly fitted on any of Camel's early albums. It has soft and spacey parts that sound exactly like Moonmadness and other bits that rock slightly more as on Mirage. The composition is nice and despite the obvious comparison I wouldn't call it derivative.

Wunderschatze is an extended ballad with warm and melancholic German vocals. It builds up some more power towards the end. It's nice again but not exactly overwhelming. Not exactly the next Firth of Fifht or Airborn.

Sommerabend is much more convincing. The first part is even brilliant, it's stunningly beautiful with its soft sadness . The vocal melody line is quite remarkable and original. It's very repetitious but that suits me fine. Halfway in the mood changes to a more upbeat pace and rather typical peace-love and harmony vocals. Instead of releasing the tension that was built in the first half it kind of spoils it for me.

A good symphonic album worth checking out, and probably more then satisfying if you love mellow symphonic rock.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#300675) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, September 27, 2010

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Although they would drift into the realms of syrupy pop-rock as the 1970s wore on, the first few releases from Hamburg-based symphonic outfit Novalis - guitarist and vocalist Detlef Job, keyboardist Lutz Rahn, bassist Heino Schunzel and drummer Hartwig Biereichel - contain some of the finest German progressive rock of the era. A brave and talented group, Novalis went somewhat against the grain by performing rather unusually in their own native German tongue from their second album onwards. Their English-language debut 'Banished Bridge' proved a rather patchy affair, yet both follow-ups - the self-titled second album 'Novalis' and this beautiful 1976 effort - found a group in much more confident form, unshackled by the demands of writing and singing in a foreign language. Alongside the epic double-live release 'Konzerte', this trio of albums represent Novalis at their very best, with Lutz Rahn weaving dense, keyboard-drenched symphonic melodies and classical motifs into a truly mesmerising brew of elegant symphonic progressive rock. 'Novalis', an album adorned with snazzy synthesizers and spacey sound effects, improved hugely on 'Banished Bridge'; 'Sommerabend' went even further. Made up of just three lengthy compositions, this is an album dripping with star-kissed melodies and intricate keyboard patterns, blending the mysterious ambience of mid-seventies era Tangerine Dream with the symphonic flourishes of Yes and Genesis whilst the German lyrics add - for non-German listeners at least - a sense of mystery which heightens the albums overall mystique. The album's key piece is near twenty-minute title-piece, a carefully-crafted, lushly-produced epic which curls and twists beautifully through it's several intertwining sections thanks to the seamless interplay of both Rahn and Detlef Job, yet both the melancholy 'Aufbruch', and the passionately-played 'Wunderschatze' also exhibit the groups classical leanings and bravura instrumental abilities. A wonderfully atmospheric slice of German symphonic prog, 'Sommerabend' proves to be Novalis' key release. Later efforts would eschew the intricate compositional approach in favour of more hook-laden melodies, yet for a brief while this was a group who could more than rival their musical colleagues across the continent in Britain and France. A truly sumptuous album indeed. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#808391) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Romantic Rock, Symphonic Rock, call it what you want: the third album by Novalis is pure German Prog, plain and simple. And it may well be their best album, from the lovely art nouveau cover illustration (sadly diminished in a CD jewel case) to the music itself, none of it too original but performed with gusto.

In classic Prog Rock fashion the album contains only three long tracks, beginning with the energetic instrumental 'Aufbruch' (Departure) before moving to the escalating melodrama of 'Wundersch'tze'. The latter borrows its text from the band's 18th century namesake poet, who might have been pleasantly surprised at how easily his words were adapted to modern rock music vernacular.

And then there's the flipside of the original LP, devoted entirely to the five-part title suite, arguably the band's finest moment on record, and the perfect realization of their so-called (and now somewhat dated) Romantic Rock ethos. The long, gradual development of the song, with Detlef Job's repetitive acoustic guitar mantra played over the spacey string ensembles of Lutz Rahn, is particularly effective, more so at least than the awkwardly sung rock 'n' roll chorus further in.

Here and elsewhere the rhythm section can be somewhat clunky (imagine a Teutonic PINK FLOYD). But the combination of lush keyboard accents, delicate guitar work, and stirring vocals can be hard for an old-school Symphonic Rock fan to resist. And, unlike too many other German Proggers at the time, Novalis made a conscious effort to separate themselves from their obvious English role models by singing in their native tongue. Thank you producer ACHIM REICHEL (of A.R. & Machines fame) for suggesting the change in language, after the band's Anglophilic debut album three years earlier.

Obviously the decision must have worked: 'Sommerabend' was the biggest selling Novalis LP to date, a hit both at home and abroad. They would continue recording albums for several more years, but we all know what happened to Progressive Rock after 1976: diminishing relevance, commercial compromise, gradual oblivion...an all- too familiar story at the end of that decade.

These days it takes a pair of ears finely tuned to the aspirations of the middle 1970s to hear the album without criticism. But having made that mental adjustment it's only another small step toward uncomplicated enjoyment, a valuable reward in itself for an otherwise disregarded relic from Prog Rock's salad days.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#808556) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars Carlo Karges was not destined to spend much time with Novalis and soon the band find itself working for the next album with a shortened line-up, where all keyboard duties were run by Lutz Rahn and all guitar parts by Detlef Job.New effort ''Sommerabend'' was recorded for the Brain label in February 1976 at the Musikstudio in Hamburg, again under the production guidance of Achim Reichel.

10-min. opener ''Aufbruch'' is a clear example of Teutonic Symphonic Rock, propably the best piece of the album and one of the best recorded by the band.It's all instrumental Progressive Rock with some nice psychedelic undertones and often a spacey atmosphere through the use of synthesizers, built around a neurotic groove with some deep bass work.Guitar solos are beautiful and the keyboard work of Rahn passes from light organ runs to intense synthesizers.The second 10-min. display of the opening LP side, ''Wunderschaetze'', reminds me a lot of STERN COMBO MEISSEN.It is a more downtempo piece with a nice laid-back guitar intro and expressive, multi-part vocals, carrying on in a more GENESIS-like vein with quirky Hammond organ and edgy electric guitars, before another acoustic intro give rise to a more pounding and fast ending tempo, highlighted by Rahn's angular synthesizers.The 18-min. sidelong title-track is a well-constructed suite, propably not on absolute par with ''Banished bridge'' from the first album of the group, but it definitely contains some very good moments.It's first parts comes in a very ELOY-like vein with stretched, cosmic synthesizers, acoustic overtones and hypnotic rhythms, interrupted only by Detlef Job's voice.Second part follows a typical Novalis vein with Classical showering during the spacey synth parts, poetic vocals and even some fiery sections with full-blown proggy exercises, based on powerful, dual keyboard pyrotechnics and the very dynamic rhythm section.

Another consistent album by Novalis.Propably the best for all starvers of long, Prog epics, showcasing the group on an upgraded sound between Symphonic and atmospheric Space Rock.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1140991) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 03, 2014

Latest members reviews

5 stars I am going back and forth in Novalis' discography and that is a good way to do. You get variety and understand the differencies between decades. "Sommerabend" now was Novalis' (The Hamburg symphonic band) third studio album and it happens to be the most frequently rated album by the band here on ... (read more)

Report this review (#1289001) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Wednesday, October 08, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Novalis third album, Sommerabend, is surely one of the best albums from Germany. The album is made of 3 tracks, Aufbruch, Wunderschätze and Sommerabend. The album opening track, Aufbruch opened is a track that can fit any symphonic band album. It's built with a nice melodic motive, which tak ... (read more)

Report this review (#629601) | Posted by yosimoshe | Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 d ... (read more)

Report this review (#296813) | Posted by Morrel | Monday, August 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes I agree, hardly a masterpiece but a very well done piece of art. Specially if you think in terms of simplicity and beauty, it is just like Novalis himself... My only regreat and the only reason I want to give it four stars is because they lack a good singer who will come later. Anyway, listen to ... (read more)

Report this review (#19862) | Posted by | Saturday, December 27, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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