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VITA NOVA

Eclectic Prog • Multi-National


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Vita Nova biography
VITA NOVA was founded by three musicians of a quite different origin, Eddy Marron (guitar, bass, vocals) who was born in Eastern Germany but emigrated to the west, studied concert guitar and already became a profi musician with twenty years, Sylvester Levay (keyboards) with hungarian parents but born in Serbia who could already take classical piano lessons as a young boy and Christian von Hoffmann aka Chris Hoff (drums) born in Switzerland which played together with Levay in the Ambros Seelos Band.

Because they were unhappy to play only music which other people claimed to hear they met Marron sometime at the beginning of the 70s with the intention to work out something new. With VITA NOVA (New Life) they got an adequate promising name for the new band and according to the latin title additionally an important aspect of their music was defined. Levay rented the Munich Union-Studios for some days in February 1971 where they could work out their 'progresssive' music without any constraint - unconventional because of the use of a Hohner Clavinet first of all. It have been hard times. Because they had to meet the obligations of their regular bands there was less time to sleep and only during the night and morning time a chance to join the studio. Lyrics were written by Levay's brother-in-law Adalbert Hayduk and performed in latin - another unconventional aspect of the band - similar to the band OS MUNDI on the album 'Latin Mass' reflecting the upcoming protest against ecological destruction.

The eponymous album is very experimental and blending psychedelic, jazz rock, symphonic and classical elements showing the high professional abilites of the VITA NOVA members. Consisting of 12 mainly short tracks it was released the same year by the austrian Life Records label with a limited edition of 500 copies. Being a rare and searched vinyl the band decided to republish the album. Despite the original tapes got lost a well-preserved LP was taken as the master. Penner Records, a forerunner of the german Garden Of Delights label, could present a digitally remastered version in 1995 with two bonus tracks which were originally produced for a planned single.

VITA NOVA never gave live performances. Apparently there have been no further intentions and therefore the band disappeared soon after the album recordings because every member began to reach for new experiences. Eddy Marron founded his own music school and could also attract attention with two DZYA...
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3.88 | 23 ratings
Vita Nova
1971

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VITA NOVA Reviews


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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Coalescing in Munich with members from a range of countries, Vita Nova's three-man lineup and some of the musical passages on here will draw comparisons with ELP and other power trios, though stylistically they seem to be more of a blend of symphonic prog and krautrock than a purely symphonic band. A pleasant album, though the band seem to be casting around a little trying to settle on a distinctive sound and overall it feels more like a footnote than a highlight of the German scene at the time. If you see it going cheap, snag it, but don't mistake it for some forgotten holy grail of prog.

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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The multi-national, Munich-based trio of Vita Nova (Latin for New Life) recorded their one album in 1971, with a limited pressing of only 500 LPs. Most of those were given away to friends, so it's fair to say the band never attracted enough fans to even qualify as a cult act. Our loss, but a quarter-century later they finally lived up to their name, after the belated digital re-release of an unknown treasure from a year that arguably marked the high tide of Prog Rock creativity, especially in Germany.

The trio (without a dedicated bass guitarist) was led by guitarist Eddy Marron, soon to rejuvenate the jazz combo DZYAN into a fascinating ethno-psychedelic jam band. Here he adopted the curious studio pseudonym Ed Ugly-Ugly, enlisting a drummer and keyboard player for this untamed instrumental free-for-all, topped with the occasional vocal sung (of course!) in Latin.

The mostly short tracks (half of the album's original twelve cuts are less than two-minutes long; only one cracks the six-minute mark) all flow smoothly into each other, as if Marron and company were anxious to nail down the next idea before their muse left the room. But there was an astonishing energy holding it all together, matched only by the dynamic whirlwind of the music itself.

Some of the more eclectic sections (the majority of the album) sound not unlike a Krautrock ELP. Other episodes, like the hectic jamming in the "Vita Nova Inventions", recall the dark gothic fury of early VDGG, minus the distraction of Peter Hammill's singing. But the music throughout is never less than unique, and often wildly diverse. Marron trades a brief but torrid electric guitar solo in the opening "Quomodo Manet" for a sterling turn on a Turkish baglama in the aptly-titled "Istanbul". Elsewhere, the cascading acoustic piano of Sylvester Levay in his namesake track "Sylvester" makes a bold contrast to the High Mass of "Adoramus", complete with lofty cathedral pipe organ.

Even drummer Christian Hoff gets a share of the spotlight, setting up a groovy solo in "Wildman". And let's not ignore the ecstatic Third World ritual chanting of "Heya-Cleya", another unexpected detour on an album already racing half-way around the world.

The master tapes for the album were apparently lost, and the 1995 CD re-issue was (presumably) restored from vinyl elements. But it sounds fantastic, and the pair of never- before heard bonus tracks only adds more frosting to a cake that hasn't lost any of its flavor after four decades on the shelf. Vita Nova may have been a one-shot wonder, but their aim was true. And it's never too late to hear what we've all been missing.

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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by Ricochet
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Besides the fabulous, longeval classic bands of progressive rock's golden decade, there are plenty more ensembles that prove of a splendid value and fill a space in the grand scheme just like everyone else, despite the roughness in finding their records, the shortness of what they offered and the rather underground presence. Vita Nova don't differ from these many bands, putting up a quite interesting and extremely pleasant or healthy portion of prog rock, while in the meantime everything was likely too good to last more than a blink of an eye, too "academic" to reach down to the masses, too singled-out as to stir things deeply and reach up the heights of those times. In fact, the essence of this band's subsistence sounds more familiar than unforeseen: rare, sole album, short-lived project due to lack of consistent interest (they haven't concerted or resumed composing anything too serious afterwards), unknown reference except if it's found after persistent search (though a CD remaster has been done, in the 90s, and its bonus tracks are valorous). This, however, does not mean that it shouldn't be recommended. Vita Nova lived up to making good prog music; any (semi-)extensive research into the huge musical movement should include them.

Eddy Marron is the brainchild and dominant figure of Vita Nova, playing guitars and lead vocals in three (or is it four?) certain pieces; he'll also play afterwards in Missus Beastly and Dzyan, solid bands of the Kraut/Jazz/Rock stage. Yet Sylvester Leray could be admired much more, since the stylish purity of keyboards, from exquisite Hammond to more interesting approaches (like Hohner clavinet) pays off immensely; much of the music is vitalized by simple, yet far from ordinary keyboard music and glosses. Christian von Hoffman completes the trio and the band music as well, as drummer.

The prog rock affinity is more than obvious from a classic point of view, much of the sound and the textures being vintage without meaning they're also dated, and classic without meaning their personalized spirit isn't also unleashed, vibrant. Upon reading the biography, you can imagine pretty well what inspired the musicians to create Vita Nova: departing from "imposed", "a la mode" music was their main objective (they are however, by this issue, two years far from the "rebellious" 60s...); and while we're not talking a band that turned non-conformist or truly experimental, but actually chose well the sterile (as in clean, immune) ground of classic prog or hard rock, the keyword being instead how "illuminated" the whole conceived material shines through. A progressive mode, in other words, was chosen as the fitting characterization of their personalities and their "vita nova" music.

Style isn't at all a dry subject, as while dominantly "psychedelicky", the band works also consistently on several other full nuances, such as symphonic, heavy, jazzy, space prog, rock or even pop (but never brewed in pure form, always mixed with something else of the mentioned). It surprises that Vita Nova's music is mature, central, addictive to patterns and light of mutations, yet the styles are intrinsic. The instrumental universe adopted here is of great results, why half of the vocal moments are a bit unclean and unpleasant, but luckily don't harm badly the whole project.

Vita Nova is essentially an album whose music counts the most. So let the walkthrough do the rest. I'm evaluating the CD 90s remaster, counting therefore the two juicy bonus tracks. Apart from these, the original material is clearly split, conceptually and by the content's continuity, in two major parts (countable as epics too, though the playlist clearly mentions separate pieces).

After an opener called Quomodo Manet, which seems like a bad start through its self-indulgent vocals, but falls down to gorgeous rock in the middle, the first part - or "epic" - is called Inventions, lasting 6 pieces, all but one short, till that which is deliberately called Inventions Finale. I'd rather think of these six as "variations", because after the symph-psych dished Vita Nova Inventions, each of the new slim track presents something different; and here we go: Whirl Wind adopts a western suspense, though the beats and the guitar lonely melody are technically plain rock, Istanbul is an oriental-oriented guitar-"becken" (German for cymbals) dance, Sylvester is a piano intermezzo (here I dare point out that it reminds me of Tangerine Dream's same piano pauses in Tangram, though nine years apart; of course, "reminds" is a misused term, given this case), Wildman is von Hoffman's excellent coup and over in the shortest of all Finale, the main symph syntax is reloaded.

The second "epic", as far as the name goes, can quicker be acknowledged as Adoramus, containing the next four (out of five originally left) pieces from the album. Heva-Cleva seems like an individual composition, with special-rhythmic percussion on more tribal incantations, until the last minute where the main choral, psych-organ backgrounded theme concretely starts: here the chanting vocals are good. Adoramus follows, purely repeating through instruments the main theme, in a filling psych-symph then hard down the last minutes mood ("reminds" of Focus) - it's the longest and most complex piece, and it resonates greatly, at least if mentioning the style standards and the sweet mood of exuberant organ-keys mixtures. Sunt Alteri ravages in a completely ELP way, being a cadence to Adoramus Finale, first experimental, then dark, finally reloading the "choral". This second part of the album is simpler, heavier, probably more appropriate for a synthesized psych-symph liking, but actually feels just a tiny bit below the first part. Tempus Est ends the original Vita Nova, mostly heavy rock, with complete musicianship skills throughout.

The bonus tracks, Lacrimosa and Olymp 99 also seem to descend from heavy/hard rock grounds, the first being a raw final blow (if judging it added to the whole experience), while the latter has groovy progressive rhythms, again close to classic (even half-cliqued) standards. To end with a curious detail, when I first listened to Vita Nova, I had a feeling that these two bonuses, plus Tempus Est from before, approached a Deep Purple-like wham. But nowadays, that feeling is rather gone.

Overall, a classic-driven, intense, precise, highly enjoyable singular album from this psych-descending-in-traditional-prog band, an album that, even with flaws here and there, doesn't deserve less than a fine grade.

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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This is a wonderful eclectic album by musicians with a funded education and stylistically representing a wide spectrum. VITA NOVA was a short-lived band - better to say project - only producing this album and never giving live performances. They made their living as professional musicians but also wanted to develope something new and far away of what was expected when jobbing for their regular bands.

So they made use of their short free time to produce this recordings - often in the night or morning hours when they normally had to sleep. The result is quite exciting considering the circumstances. The eponymous album is very experimental and blending jazz rock/fusion, symphonic, psychedelic and classical elements showing high professional abilities. Sylvester Levay's varied keyboard work with a classical and symphonic background is dominating. Originally only produced as a limited edition of 500 copies it happened to be sold out quickly, could be re-released based on a vinyl as the master because the original tapes got lost and was finally reissued on compact disc in 1995 by a forerunner of the Garden Of Delights label with two bonus tracks.

Quomodo Manet surprises with latin vocals first. Not many german bands ventured this courageous experiment. For me it's very unusual and for some songs it works and for others not. But VITA NOVA luckily avoided to exaggerate - this album is mainly instrumental. The opener however comes like a mini-symphony - very promising - and this will be confirmed soon by the instrumental Vita Nova Inventions - very inventive indeed and a masterpiece of a psychedelic/fusion blend. It all starts with acoustic guitar later getting high-speed jamming in the vein of EMBRYO with duelling organ and guitar plus staccato drums - superb!

The following songs are very short in the majority and showing multiple facets of the band. Who came first? VITA NOVA or BO HANSSON? Whirl Wind remembers me much at this swedish keyboarder whereas Istanbul provides a strong middle-eastern flair with Saz as the title promises. Wildmanis dedicated to drummer Christian von Hoffmann. The mandatory drum solo is technically perfect but not very impressing. Heya-Cleya is provided with a tribal native percussion rhythm later changing to church organ with latin vocals similiar to a christian mass.

I could continue to list my impressions processing track by track but I hope it's clear enough now how rich the sound of VITA NOVA is. The following songs are additionally blending hammond drenched moments with church bells, weird sound samples with latin spoken words, heavy rocking parts and classical clavinet moments. Even the bonus tracks are making no difference from the high standard.

Unique and essential - I recommend to purchase this album - a worthwile investment - 4.5 stars!

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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars VITA NOVA were an obscure band from Austria who put out only one album.Their name means "New life" in Latin. They also sing in Latin on this album. I actually became interested in this band from the excellent guitar playing of Eddy Marron on DZYAN's two albums "Time Machine" and "Electric Silence". I found out Eddy started out with this band before joining DZYAN. Funny but Eddy goes by Ed Ugly-Ugly on this album. Tee hee ! Of the 12 original album tracks half of them are under 2 minutes !

"Quomodo Manet" reminds me a lot of the Swedish band DUNGEN. There's a sixties vibe to this song. It's uptempo and vocal / drum led until some fuzz organ takes over. An atmospheric calm 4 minutes in to end it. Good start. "Vita Nova Inventions" opens with piano and guitar with drums and organ a minute in. The bass is prominant 2 1/2 minutes in. This is a great instrumental,perhaps the best song on here. "Whirl Wind" opens with the Hohner clavinet with drums followed by a gong. A mellow soundscape follows with more clavinet to end it. "Istanbul" features the Turkish zaz with drums and is obviously eastern sounding.

"Sylvester" is dominanted by incredible piano melodies. "Wildman" is mainly a drum solo as the song title implies. "Inventions Finale" is a short instrumental with the organ and drums standing out. Excellent. "Heya-Cleya" features percussion and vocal melodies for 2 minutes then it changes as we get some good organ runs. Vocals follow. "Adoramus" opens with these heavy drums that seem to bang around aimlesly for almost 2 minutes then it becomes pastoral with organ, light drums and bass. Fuzz organ before 5 minutes as vocals come in that are blues flavoured. "Sunt Alteri" opens with organ as light drums and bass join in. "Adoramus Finale" opens with experimental sounds. Organ and spoken words come in. Haunting ending. "Tempus Est" again reminds me of DUNGEN and the opening track with that sixties feel. The final two songs are bonus tracks that were recorded by the band in the summer of 1971 but never before released. I actually like these two songs the best. "Lacrimosa(Death of a world)" features lots of great organ throughout, while "Olymp 99" has really the first evidence of how good Eddy is at playing guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. It is led by organ up until that point.

Originally this was released by "Life Records" but only 500 copies were made so this became a valuable collectors item. One of my favourite labels "Garden of Delights" re-released it in 1995 on cd. This album is a real trip.

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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars VITA NOVA's one and only recording is a fantastic album full of high quality progressive tendencies and originality. The original and interesting feature of this band was the original use of the Hohner Clavinet (pre moog synth) and considering the country of origin sing in Latin. The band was trio of Eddy Marron (vocals, bass and Turkish zaz), Sylvester Levay (keys, percussion) and Christian von Hoffmann (drums, percussion). Musically these guys were fantastic with some killer guitar, bass, keyboard and drum work. Their music is full of energy and full of progressive time signature changes and instrumental prowess. Overall a great album and one of the true treasures of the 70's German underground. Highly recommended.

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 Vita Nova by VITA NOVA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.88 | 23 ratings

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Vita Nova
Vita Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by tibor levay

5 stars This record is something unic in the history of the progressive stile the 70 is. Latin language protest lyrics , against the agressive kind of thinking and politics. The music must be heard couse its not compareble. Spirit with deep contents and great musical performance. You can only say : AWAU

Some other crasyness is on www.tiborlevay.com tibor levay

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