Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Novalis Brandung album cover
3.30 | 99 ratings | 13 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Irgendwo, Irgendwahn (4:35)
2. Wenn nicht mehr zahlen und figuren (3:03)
3. Astralis (8:50)
4. Sonnenwende: (16:56) :
- a) Brandung (3:42)
- b) Feuer bricht in die Zeit (3:56)
- c) Sonnenfinsternis (3:30)
- d) Dämmerung (5:48)

Total Time: 33:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Fred Mühlböck / vocals, acoustic guitar, concert flute
- Detlef Job / guitar, vocals
- Lutz Rahn / Hammond, clavinet, PPG synth, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, grand piano, String Ensemble
- Heino Schünzel / bass, vocals
- Hartwig Biereichel / drums, percussion

Releases information

The title translates as "Tide"

Artwork: "Die Pferde des Neptun" by Walter Crane

LP BRAIN ‎- 0060.094 (1977, Germany)

CD Repertoire Records ‎- PMS 7069-WP (1997, Germany) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy NOVALIS Brandung Music

More places to buy NOVALIS music online

NOVALIS Brandung ratings distribution

(99 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

NOVALIS Brandung reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2,5 stars at most!!!

I was not very kind with Sommerabend (their previous album) in my review , but I did stay humorous. With this album , Novalis continues/confirms the direction it took with Sommerabend and stretches it a bit more. Best proof is the side-long epic Sonnenwende meant to be the second part of of epic Sommerabend . Personally , I think they might have gone back to the first albums and done so much better music.

Some people into symphonic rock might love this album , but to me this sounds like run-of- the-mill average radiophonic rock of the era (I think they had a hit with the opening track) and the pastoral flavour of the first two album (and still present in Sommerabend) is totally absent. The side-long suite Sonnenwende slides by me , only boring me as my mind drifted after the first movement that gave its name to the album, even though the ambitious lyrics have a high quality using poem by Friedrich "Novalis " von Hardenberg. However, I had had enough of Novalis at the time.

Only does the second track hold a bit of interest being the folkiest tune on the album. Need I remeber you that Novalis started as a sort-folk-rock and Banished Bridges is still their best abum to date?

Review by Progbear
3 stars Add a little, subtract a little and you're left with another decent but not outstanding album. Fred Mühlböck's studio debut was helped by Lutz Rahn's strongest keyboard work since their fabulous second album. On the minus side, Hartwig Biereichel's drumming, never the most colourful anyways, had totally ossified into a total foursquare, predictable format. Indeed, lots of German bands at the time seemed to be freezing up into this spare-yet-stiff drumming style. A friend of mine suggested that they were adversely affected by Nick Mason's drumming on WISH YOU WERE HERE.

...but I digress...

Musically, it starts off in a rather "sing-songy" mode with "Irgendwo, Irgendwann", which was nonetheless a big success for them. The folky "Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren", another text based on Hardenberg, is a vast improvement. The lengthy "Astralis", adapted from Hardenberg's epic poem on the beauty of nature, should have been a highlight, but it's rather scarred by Biereichel's stiff drumming and a rather repetitious compositional style.

Much better is the four-part "Sonnenwende" suite that takes up the entirety of the B-side. I'm one of the few that prefers this suite over "Sommerabend", not merely because of the superior production (Achim Reichel had learned a thing or two since his first outing in Rüssl-Studios) but also because the varied moods seem more sympathetic. Rahn's richer keyboard palette and Mühlböck's powerful singing voice certainly don't hurt, either.

So, really a bit of a two-sided coin. The A-side's a bit of a wash, frankly, but the B-side's about as good as this lineup ever got. You decide.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

NOVALIS will once again modify its line-up by adding a new singer, the Austrian FRED MUHLBOCK! Why, i don't know as ,for me, DETLEF JOB was doing a great job singing on SOOMERABEND. Not that MUHLBOCK is a bad singer, but i don't think he is an improvement over JOB at all. Detlef JOB sang with emotion and power, not the case with the new one. Also MUHLBOCK not only sing, but also write songs which are not exactly in the style from the earlier albums. So with parts of BRANDUNG being more mainstream rock than the magical odysseys we had with s/t NOVALIS and SOMMERABEND, we know it was the end of an era for NOVALIS.

Don't forget we are also in 1977, the year Prog music got stabbed and bands had to adapt to the changing times. And for NOVALIS, it was no different. The album starts with a ...sing along song that even became a hit in their native Germany''IRGENDWO, IRGENDWANN'' with of course a cheesy chorus, 6 years old kids would like!!! Not that it's entirely bad, as some old typical NOVALIS musical arrangements can still be heard throughout the song, but we are far away from WENN SCHMETTERLINGE LACHEN HORT, believe me!

The next 2 songs from the -then-side one are the 2 MUHLBOCK tunes, WENN NICHT MEHR ZAHLEN is a acoustic folk-kind song, not bad, not great ,ASTRALIS the other one is more in the classic NOVALIS vein, but the lush pastoral arrangements from the past have been simplified , i guess to sound more adapted to the times. Once again, it is a good song, but the magical side of NOVALIS is gone.

If you have read my reviews from the last 2 NOVALIS albums, you know that i think they are 2 of the very best prog symphonic albums i ever heard and will cherish all my life.A magical trip to a wonderful world that only a few albums are capable of, especially the self-titled NOVALIS which is a 6 stars in my book.

Thanks god, the magic is back with the suite SONNENWENDE which took all the second of the LP. Finally. we are back with a GRANDIOSE rock symphony, there are no other words to describe it; If you are looking for great symphonic prog, you have to listen to SONNEWENDE. Every time , i am listening to it, this is guaranteed goosebumps for me , especially during the build up at the end and even MUHLBOCK sounds very passionate and carries the tune to heights,only a few bands can reach. This is not as complex as the suites from the first 3 albums (hey; this is 1977) but, damn, this is beautiful.

Also the cover is one of the most beautiful cover, i have seen, perfect for the magnificent symphonic rock NOVALIS is playing. Sadly, it would be the last great album they will record; Things will never be the same afterwards.

A solid 4 stars for BRANDUNG


Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The popish and upbeat ''Irgendwo, Irgendwann'' might well have been a hit in Germany, it holds lots of elements that condemn this song to my ears. Synthetic sound associated with German lyrics. A very flat mayonnaise.

The band released already two albums with German lyrics, but they managed to play long instrumental passages which kind of saved the trip. On this ''Brandung'' work, the percentage is switching dramatically, and it affects my global impression. I can't help.

Things are improving during the long instrumental part of ''Astralis'' in which I can still find the band who released three very good albums before this one.

The epic of the album is divided into four short sections. Even if the opening is fully instrumental, it lacks of their past grandeur. Some fine guitar work at the end of the second movement can also be pinpointed but these are really details to find some positive aspects in here. The first moment of relief comes with the fine and melodic keyboards oriented '' Sonnenfinsternis''.

The best moment from this work is the closing ''Dämmerung''. It ends up in a bombastic and passionate vocalize part (see, I get used to it); I only wished it should have been prolonged with some gorgeous keys, but they won't come.

My view of this album is that it is an average one. Too many sung parts and a downfall in their song writing capabilities. I will upgrade it to three stars though.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars Sensing that their growing audience might throw away their sleeping pills if they produced another "Sommerabende", NOVALIS recruited the more virile Fred Mühlböck on vocals and sat on a hot tin roof before entering the studio to record "Brandung", which became their biggest selling album ever. It shows that some people will buy anything.

Apart from the first two cuts, the rocking hit "Irgendwo, Irgendwahn" and the delicate acoustic ballad "Wenn nicht mehr zahlen und figuren", not much here sticks. It's just angst ridden AOR prog with too many rough edges as sure as "Sommerabende" had no edge at all. Even the 16 minute suite fails to rivet, so plus ca change....

Admittedly, to this point Novalis' peaks were none too high and valleys not overly steep, but "Brandung" was their weakest effort of the 1970s by a fair margin. I think I'll surf this one out.

Review by seventhsojourn
4 stars By the time of their fourth studio album, Brandung (1977), Novalis had added new vocalist Fred Muhlbock to the line-up. As well as singing, Muhlbock also played acoustic guitar and added some very welcome flute to the band's sonic palette. For me this album represents Novalis at the apex of their career. I understand what others have said about the band adopting a more commercial approach here, and of having largely discarded the pastoral sound that characterised their two previous albums. Muhlbock's name features prominently among the song writing credits, so he must have had a big say in this change of direction.

Ok, so Novalis nail their colours to the mast straight away with Irgendwo, Irgendwahn. This is just finger-clickin' sing-along pop with a Mellotron added. I for one won't criticise Novalis for this song though. Prog gods Yes released the radio-friendly Wondrous Stories in the same year; what's sauce for the goose. Wenn Nicht Mehr Zahlen Und Figuren is more in traditional Novalis mode, being a quiet reflective ballad featuring acoustic guitar and chiming electric piano. This is followed by the near 9-minute Astralis, with lyrics that I believe were inspired by the band's early-Romantic namesake author. This is the album's main highlight in my opinion, with earnest vocals, memorable melodies and interesting instrumental development. This song also features Lutz Rahn playing one of my favourite keyboards, the clavinet. I don't know if Carlo Karges made off with the band's clavinet when he left after the second album, but I missed it on Sommerabend. Maybe the instrument didn't suit the material on that album. Whatever the case, it makes a welcome return on a couple of tracks here.

The remainder of the album is taken up with the near 17 minute Sonnenwende, which I believe may be a companion piece to Sommerabend's title song. Sonnenwende is a multi- part suite featuring four distinct tracks, the first being the instrumental Brandung. This features nice interplay between Muhlbock's flute, sounding very like Mellotron-flute, and Detlef Job's twanging guitar. The groove here is very much in the hypnotic style that Novalis excelled at, although it gets funkier just after halfway with some more of that clavinet. The second section, Feuer Bricht In Die Zeit, continues in similar up-beat mode but the final two sections are more in keeping with the band's pastoral leanings. Sonnenfinsternis is a contemplative ballad with sensitive flute and Hammond interplay. Dammerung continues in similar vein with tender synthesizer backed by acoustic piano and guitar, while Muhlbock's fervent vocal brings things to a suitably dramatic climax.

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the deleted Repertoire/Brain version of this several years ago without having to pay 'silly' money. However it's now widely available in a mini gatefold version, so now's your chance to get hold of this fine album. Borderline progressive maybe, but delightful nonetheless.

Review by Neu!mann
2 stars The fourth studio album by Hamburg's premier 'Romantic Rock' group (their own tag, and basically synonymous with Symphonic Prog) sadly compromised the band's original vision by taking the low road to mainstream success. Gone were the classical music touchstones, and the lyrics borrowed from the late 18th century philosopher/poet of the same name, all replaced by simpler, crowd-pleasing pop conventions: a familiar story in the waning years of the 1970s.

The group also hired a honey-throated crooner (Austrian Fred Mühlböck) as their lead singer, and abdicated much of the songwriting duties to him, sacrificing some of their instrumental integrity in the process. Note the bland Euro-disco rhythms in the nine-minute "Astralis", or the absurdly catchy Top-40 chorus of "Irgendwo, Irgendwahn", a song expressly designed for pop radio consumption. And is it only a coincidence that the lovely acoustic ballad with the unwieldy title "Wenn Nicht Mehr Zahlen und Figuren" recalls a mellow German re-make of The Eagles hit "Hotel California", released earlier the same year?

Musically the group could still be effective, thanks in part to the stronger compositional hand of keyboardist Lutz Rahn. The side-long "Sonnenwende" suite almost redeems the album, despite resembling a lumpy update of their earlier epic "Sommerabend" (even the titles are similar: Summer Solstice vs. Summer Evening). But the newer music is unforgivably episodic, at one point actually fading to silence between movements. As a result there isn't any architectural stability to the whole piece, and all the massed choirs and histrionic "Great Gig in the Sky" wailing at its climax can't hide the cracks.

And yet, harsh words aside, the album can't really be considered a sell-out (the lyrics would have all been in English otherwise). Novalis wasn't the only band shifting ballast in the contrary musical winds of the time, but unlike other Proggers they didn't completely jettison their identity as well. The Romantic Rockers may have outgrown their youthful romanticism, but the lighter, leaner style at least kept the band afloat a few years longer.

Review by Lewian
3 stars Brandung is the first Novalis studio album with the new singer Fred Muehlboeck. It marks a transition from Novalis' more symphonic and epic period to shorter straighter songs. The opener "Irgendwo Irgendwann" shows where Novalis would go after this album. They tried it out as a single with moderate success. It's a very optimistic up-beat rock song with earworm qualities that ended up as a celebrated standard on their concerts until the end of the band. It plays very well to Muehlboeck's show qualities as the band's front man, which was something they didn't have before he entered the band. Given that the rest of the album is of a different mood and style, I'm fine with this song. "Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren" is a beautiful, delicate and poetic song inspired by classical music. "Astralis" is powerful prog rock showing off the band's musicality and good hand for melodies and arrangements, although it becomes somewhat repetitive toward the intense end. The second side has the 17-minutes opus "Sonnenwende". This starts with "Brandung", one of their very straight instrumentals with a very nice flute melody. The remainder of Sonnenwende shows the qualities mentioned before again, with pleasant melodies and tasteful arragements. "Sonnenwende" can be seen as four songs; there is not much in terms of recurring or overarching themes that glue the parts together, apart from the lyrics and the fact that the beginning of each part works well at the end of the previous one. What can be criticised about the album and particularly about "Sonnenwende" is that the musical substance is limited. The album is very short, less than 34 minutes, and on top of that there is quite a bit of repetition and some time is spent on predictable variations of the same theme.

Brandung definitely has its moments, but despite it being good to listen to, "Sonnenwende" signifies that such a 17 minutes work doesn't really play to the strengths of the band anymore; the tendency to to go to more transparent and direct songs is already apparent, be it because of Muehlboeck, be it because of a changing taste of other band members, too. The next two albums will see the band elaborating this new approach with Muehlboeck's voice becoming more confident (he is OK here but seems more restricted to a certain range than later, although "Zahlen und Figuren" is sung differently from the others, much more calm and sensitive, and very nice) and more down-to-earth real-life lyrics.

3 1/2 stars.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars In the early to mid-Seventies, symphonic prog band Novalis released a decent debut, a far superior self-titled follow-up and an absolute classic of German symphonic prog with the dreamy and wasted `Sommerabend' on their third attempt, in addition to a great live album `Konzerte' in 1977. Moving quite a trip away from the hazy and unhurried drifting moods of that above mentioned third studio album, `Brandung', also from 1977, adopted a more streamlined approach of predominantly vocal-based melodic compositions, with great emphasis placed on the lead vocals of newly instated frontman Fred Mühlböck (who debuted on the live `Konzerte' release), who carries a large chunk of the more accessible approachable melodies and focused tunes of the album with strength and dignity. Most of the pieces were still fairly lengthy, with the second side of the LP culminating yet again with an extended side-long suite like the previous album, but the group were moving towards a strong balance of interesting instrumental qualities with a mainstream rock/pop crossover appeal without sacrificing musical intelligence.

Some will likely be instantly (and unwisely!) put off by the up-tempo poppy opening seconds of lead track `Irgendwo, Irgendwahn', which actually became something of a surprise minor radio hit in Germany for the band at the time. Although it has a rather delirious and energetic repeated synth/guitar theme leaping in here and there, the bulk of the tune settles into a decent rock tune with slight hints of a darker symphonic theme in a few spots that hold a little more weight than the perkier moments. A beautiful short ballad interlude with the first little traces of melancholy seeping in that will show up further on the latter parts of the album, `Wenn Nicht Mehr Zahlen und Figuren', follows, and Fred and the group deliver sublime and exquisite sighing harmonies over gentle acoustic guitars and Lutz Rahn's shimmering subdued synths. The first side closes with a grooving and energetic nine minute rocker `Astralis' that houses Detlef Job's jangling guitars, trickles of Hammond organ and a welcome longer instrumental run in the middle with Heino Schünzel's slowly funky bass and a stomping beat from drummer Hartwig Biereichel, and the frequently reprising soaring theme and boisterous chorus vocal calls to mind the debut 1975 album from Swedish band Kaipa.

The entire second side of the album is comprised of a varied four part suite `Sonnenwende', opening with a cool instrumental introduction driven by thick silken bass gliding behind careful Mellotron veils and chilled-out guitar licks, with a touch of classical piano bombast in the final moments. The piece moves into a slinking dark groover with an intensely maddening repeated chorus and electric guitar bite, followed by a short melancholic piano ballad with restrained power that holds reaching falsetto vocal moments and a stirring and regal extended instrumental outro with gorgeous humming Hammond organ and scratchy Mellotron. The final section and album finale holds a creeping gothic atmosphere, home to gloomy piano and eerie wavering synths, a plodding moribund drum beat, Fred's voice moving between a sorrowful croon and soaring with wounded controlled power, the piece finally culminating in a grandiose storm of organ. Perhaps this `suite' is more a collection of four separate pieces than a genuine extended epic, but it maintains a good flow throughout and doesn't hold a single wasted second of music.

This barely 33 minute album isn't long enough for any filler to creep in, and repeated listens reveal a very addictive and mature collection. Novalis delivered a compact and purposeful rock album brimming with energy and sophistication with `Brandung', and while it's not their best progressive music statement or quite on the same level as the two albums prior for prog rock fans, it still remains a fine adventurous rock album all the same.

Three and a half stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars After the magnificent Summerabend, the band decided to add a new singer. Fred Mühlböck (who algo plays guitar and flute) would join them for that tour and it was recorded for posterity on their classic Konzerte live album.However, this move would have much deeper consequences than it showed at first. And 1977´s Brandung would prove the point. Although still a fine album it showed a unexpected shift of styles. The songs are shorter, popish and, for a band known almost as a semi-instrumental outfit, with a lot of vocals. In fact, the only instrumental piece we have here is the first part of the almost 17 minute suite Sonnenwende. And it lasts for just a little over 3 minutes. The opener Irgendwo, Irgendwahn must have shocked a lot of the most radical fans. This rocking, yet melodic number, set the pace for much of the songs in here.

In hindsight is easy to say that the change of style had a lot to do with the acquisition of Mühlböck: the guy was not only a much better singer than anything the band had in this department before, but he also writes much of the songs himself here. And, let´s not forget that the year was 1977, the beginning of the "dark ages" for progressive music. Symphonic prog was on the wane for a couple of years already and now it was met with even hostility by critics and the new generation. And Novalis was kind of late comer of sorts. Besides, their music was always melodic and simpler than most of their german prog counterparts, so it was a bit logical that they would eventually do something like this sooner or later. And I should say they did it much more gracefully than a lot of prog acts that tried to deliver simpler stuff at the period. For the songs are of high quality and Sonnenwende is still quite powerful progressive epic.

Conclusion: this is obviously a transitional album, where much of their glorious past is present, although it is clear they were no longer interested in being labeled as prog anymore (something I doubt they even really ever aspired to be). Novalis had no intention to take the world by storm (as they refused to sing in english after their first album). It seems they were happy to be local heroes and do what they wanted. And, let´s face it, they did it well enough.

Rating: 3,5 stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is Novalis fourth record and the third in German language. The five gentlemen of the band do here an excellent job to entertain the audience. The spices to make that work is beautiful melodies, symphonic tendencies and a great rock voice(Fred Mühlböck). My feeling is that they were trying to ... (read more)

Report this review (#950428) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, April 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars this is one of the best albums ive ever heard, i fully recommend it, and if you speak german, you are going to feel all the power of the vocal, all the notes and the original novali's text is almost full respected, if you dont have it and you are a music lover, try to get it. ... (read more)

Report this review (#19881) | Posted by | Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the way Novalis was meant to be! An excelent combination of simplicity, beauty and expression (passion!!!). I've always thought that Novalis band took its name from Novalis writer but more than just a name they develop an atmosphere... so far then they have fulfilled such an original goal... ... (read more)

Report this review (#19879) | Posted by | Saturday, December 27, 2003 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of NOVALIS "Brandung"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.