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NOVALIS

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Novalis biography
During the mid-seventies, the Hamburg-based band NOVALIS established themselves as leaders in the field of German-language romantic rock. The quartet called itself NOVALIS after the most important German poet of early romanticism. They created a rock music of poetic, lyrical with german lyrics and instrumental beauty. Their music, a heavy organ rock, was compared to the sounds of bands such KING CRIMSON and PINK FLOYD. They released a few albums of lush, keyboard-dominant prog rock during the seventies. The keyboards created majestic layers on which the guitar builds airy melodies.

Starting with heavily organ-accentued art rock a-la KING CRIMSON (and on their debut, "Banished Bridge", including English lyrics), NOVALIS later developped their own unique style, a mixture of progressive, classic, folk and rock. "Banished Bridge" (1973) showed their KING CRIMSON influences... in a dreamy, laid back progressive rock. This 1975 self-titled album was their 2nd album and continues to show their own style take on these influences. "Novalis" (1975) and the classic "Sommerabend" (1976), both are actually much better than the comparatively disappointing fourth album, "Brandung" (1977). They did very well down musically and commercial in the second half of the 70's. "Flossenengel" (1979) was the last good one. "Rock on Brain" (1978) is an excellent document of the first 6 (and best) years of this great band.

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NovalisNovalis
Import
2004
Audio CD$6.78
$6.75 (used)
SommerabendSommerabend
Import
Universal Import 2001
Audio CD$6.51
$11.41 (used)
FlossenengelFlossenengel
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.21
$17.47 (used)
AugenblickeAugenblicke
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.21
$6.96 (used)
Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown?Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown?
Revisited Records 2007
Audio CD$614.73
$307.49 (used)
BrandungBrandung
Import
Repertoire 2002
Audio CD$194.94
$67.00 (used)
BumerangBumerang
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.21
$7.06 (used)
Banished BridgeBanished Bridge
Import
Repertoire 2002
Audio CD$44.95
$19.99 (used)
Letztes Konzert 1984Letztes Konzert 1984
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2012
Audio CD$10.36
$17.73 (used)
KonzerteKonzerte
Brain / SPV 2009
Audio CD$123.36
$68.30 (used)
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NOVALIS shows & tickets


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NOVALIS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NOVALIS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 70 ratings
Banished Bridge
1973
3.75 | 126 ratings
Novalis
1975
3.71 | 142 ratings
Sommerabend
1976
3.29 | 59 ratings
Brandung
1977
3.15 | 45 ratings
Vielleicht bist Du ein Clown?
1978
3.29 | 41 ratings
Flossenengel
1979
3.27 | 29 ratings
Augenblicke
1980
2.20 | 15 ratings
Neumond
1982
2.12 | 13 ratings
Sterntaucher
1983
2.04 | 13 ratings
Bumerang
1984
1.24 | 10 ratings
Nach uns die Flut
1985

NOVALIS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 37 ratings
Konzerte
1977
3.20 | 5 ratings
Novalis Lebt !
1993
3.33 | 6 ratings
Letztes Konzert 1984
2009

NOVALIS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NOVALIS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 4 ratings
Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hört
1978
3.00 | 3 ratings
Sonnenwende
1978
4.00 | 2 ratings
Rock On Brain
1978
4.00 | 2 ratings
Visionen
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Castle Masters Collection
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Atlanto
2000

NOVALIS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

NOVALIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Konzerte by NOVALIS album cover Live, 1977
3.84 | 37 ratings

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Konzerte
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Hamburg's Romantic Rock ensemble may have been settling into bad habits in the recording booth, but on stage the band was still capable of putting on a rousing show in 1977. Unlike their current studio album "Brandung" (not yet released when these gigs were taped), the emphasis in concert was on the instrumental performances, with a setlist devoted to earlier, stronger material from their self-titled 1975 album and its splendid 1976 companion "Sommerabend". New singer Fred Mühlböck would soon usurp the songwriting duties and steer his comrades into shallower waters, but he sounds completely at ease in the band's more symphonic back catalogue (he may have simply been trying too hard on his upcoming studio debut with the group).

The music itself on the live disc is more or less conventional Prog Rock, a description sadly becoming less of an oxymoron in 1977. But don't dismiss the album too quickly. Yes, it represented a waning style of music captured at that awkward moment just past its cultural expiration date, complete with obligatory classical walk-on music (Ravel's "Bolero") and, outside of the brief instrumental "Dronz", no song shorter than nine minutes. But thankfully the rumors of Prog's death-by-misadventure hadn't reached suburban Hamburg yet, and even with its flat, detached production the album crackles with energy and enthusiasm.

Judging by the sound of the crowd (large and ecstatic), the band was nearing the apex of their popularity here, before starting to buckle under the pressures of commercial success. Be prepared, however, to accept a little mustiness when opening this bluntly-titled musical time capsule. But as anyone who has ever haunted a used-book cellar or old vinyl emporium can tell you, the dusty whiff of yesterday's faded treasure is not an unpleasant experience.

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 Brandung by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.29 | 59 ratings

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Brandung
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

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 airborne a few years longer.

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 Vielleicht bist Du ein Clown? by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.15 | 45 ratings

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Vielleicht bist Du ein Clown?
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars When you really like a record is it hard do make a proper evaluation but I will try. "Novalis" is a German symphonic prog band which made some albums through the seventies and the eighties. "Vielleicht bin du ein clown?" is their fifth record(of eleven) and it's from 1978. The record is short but then was also my doubts very short about it. I can't help but love their whirling melodies and their strong and beautiful German vocals. The cover is a bit surrealistic with the girls with red and out standing hair.

We have to thank Hartwig Biereichel, the drummer, Detlef Job, the guitarist, Fred Mühlböck, the vocalist, guitarist and flautist, Lutz Rahn, the keyboardist and the bassist Heino Schünkel for their lovely efforts on this masterpiece.

Two of the songs have I heard before and the starter "Der Geigenspieler" is a progressive gem with a lot of interesting themes and structures. It is one of the band's best songsThe vocals through the whole album are so romantic and that fits the name because Novalis was also a romantic poet. Romantic prog is a great thiong to call this. On the last track "Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung" they use a poem by Friedrich Schiller. "Zingaresca" and "City-Nord" is fantastic instrumental songs which a lovely atmosphere and "Manchmal fällt der regen eben lang" is somewhat of a hit. The title track is also very attractive. The mixture of romantic feeling, the German lyrics and the pretentious progressive rock is what I love so much and that makes Novalis a favourite band.

I can really recommend you to try Novalis. It is very pleasing that they donät sing in English, I haven't understood why non-English bands use to sing in their second language. The romantic feeling this shapes fills the music of intriguing thoughts. Some prefer the earlier Novalis which I honestly haven't heard so much of. This is a perfect but a bit short album. Five stars! Best track: "Der Geigenspieler"

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 Sommerabend by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.71 | 142 ratings

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Sommerabend
Novalis Symphonic Prog

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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 Augenblicke by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.27 | 29 ratings

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Augenblicke
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Novalis' seventh record "Augenblicke" from 1980 gives the listener some nice tunes and musical landscapes but it marks an obvious decline in the group's music that was still extravagant and symphonic on the record before. The musicians are the same as before: Hartwig Biereichel on drums, Detlef Job on guitars and vocals, Fred Mühlböck on vocals, guitars, flute and variophon, Lutz Rahn on keyboards and Heino Schünzel on bass.

What can be recognized as typical Novalis is the poetical sound that is even present here in the less interesting 80s. Four tracks are instrumental and the band does no intentions to be a pop band. But it's not progressive either so it's hard to classify. The record maintains nine songs and we know the vocalist's strong power from before. But no composition is bombastic here. I must say I listened with very bad sound quality so perhaps I didn't get it right. The glorious sound seems to be hard to reach with a short song format. It ends when it has just started in the songs. All songs have good things and my favourite tracks are "Herbstwind" with beautiful vocals in a poetic way and the album's longest track "Als kleine junge" which also contains great vocals. But it's clear that Novalis has become inferior. Five year's earlier they stood on the top so I recommend those records.

It was interesting to hear this record. It's allways funny to se how a great prog band manages to do music in the 80s and Novalis does that quite well when they yet doesn't intent to do hits. But song format has been changed and the bombastic glory unfortunately has faded. Three week stars!

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 Flossenengel by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.29 | 41 ratings

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Flossenengel
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars Now Novalis' sixth studio record has come in my hands(not phisically but...) and ears and craves to be listened to. Well thats not a problem. The cover is blue and shows a whale that is splashing a wave towards the city. It is a very happy and joyfull picture."Flossenengel" was released 1979 and the musicians were Hartwig Biereichel (drums, percussion), Detlef Job(guitar), Fred Mühlböck(vocals, guitar), Lutz Rahn (keyboards) and Heino Schünzel (bass).

Nothing has here been destroyed of Novalis' great symphonic sound, it is as good as on "Brandung" but this record is a little bit longer. I have just listened once but I allready like it very much. The record starts with "Atlanto", a melancholic and beautiful melody and this from the beginning makes us familiar with Novalis luxery sound. Then "Im brunnen der Erde" has a romantic text and gives the listener a powerful mood. In "Brennende freiheit" and "In netz" the music is much calmer and reminds me of the surf rock of the early 60s. "Flossenengel" is a harmonic piece with sweet singing and even falsetto. Great music! The remaining pieces are also worth listening. I would think Novalis' music is like a watershed. Some like it and others don't. I like it very much because of its grand expanses and pretentious organisations. They were doing some orgies on stage and that's what my ears want. This is a record that seems to be underrated as every Novalis record seems to be. I give this four stars because it is little hard to give a final judgement during the first listening. I recommend you to try Novalis' music. It is romantic, flamboyant and sweet.

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 Brandung by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.29 | 59 ratings

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Brandung
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

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 make the symphonic mood popular. The music is synth driven(Lutz Rahn) but also a powerful gitarr (Detlef Job) is a strong reason this music is so good. We also have Hartwig Biereichel on drums and Heino Schünzel on bass. It is great they are singing in German, many good prog bands do the misstake to sing in English which lower the genuineness in the apperences.

"Irgendwo, irgendwann" is the starter, a powerfull song which perhaps was meant to be the hit. The languishing guitar plays an easy but strong melody. Then "Wenn nicht mehr zahlen und figuren" is an acoustic and wonderful short song is a classical style and with a poetic text. Unfortunately I don't understand so much German. "Astralis" is perhaps the most symphonic piece on this record with a big reach and pretentious drama. I love it! Of course we alse have a one-side-long track in "Sonnenwende" but it is divided in four parts, all different to each other. This composition is not a masterpiece but very enjoyable. The first and the last parts are the best here; Brandung is wonderful, perhaps the greatest on the whole record and instrumental. That part reminds me of medieval folk music and a little of Gryphon. As a unity I can't give Brandung less than five stars. Here we've got a marvelous record which I warmly recommend.

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 Bumerang by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.04 | 13 ratings

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Bumerang
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

2 stars Due to noticing that the Novalis album `Bumerang' has been given a new CD release, I decided to give my old LP a spin and see how it turns out. Not having listened to it in years, but not remembering it too fondly, it seemed like a good time to revisit the album. By the time it came around in 1984, Novalis had constantly been refining and essentially removing the more interesting elements of their music. Here we're left with a stylish but somewhat bland fancy pop band very much influenced by much better prog/pop artists like Roxy Music, Queen and Genesis, and especially solo Phil Collins with plenty of awful bashing booming 80's drums.

Let's get one thing out of the way - this album could not be further away from the classic double of `Novalis' and `Sommerabend', but that doesn't mean it's completely useless. `Bumerang' is comprised of sophisticated 80's adult pop, three instrumental pieces (don't get too excited though, prog fans) and a couple of truly cheesy and wretched duds. The album has a super polished production, and it's well played with driving guitar work, upfront bass playing and forceful if basic drumming, while the keyboards/synths are used very sparingly. Vocalist Fred Muhlbock adopts a deep Bryan Ferry romantic croon which you'll either love or hate. To be honest, even on their earlier more progressive albums, I've always found him to be a wildly inconsistent vocalist.

Side A's `Nimme Meine Hand's has somber and eerie synths over the top of solo Phil Collins-style plastic programmed percussion. Drifting lonely sax, Fred's Bryan Ferry-like dark croon and eventually a massive stomping 80's drum beat kicks in and brings the piece comes to life. `Seitz Dich Zu Mir' sounds like a cross between The Police and Roxy Music with aggressive and super thick leaping bass and a dancing drumbeat. `Spazieren Im Morgan' is a placid ballad with a lovely lead vocal and pleasant flute solos - probably one of the better tracks. `Torero Der Nacht' has strange and bent spacey keyboards over more Roxy-influenced vocal beckoning. Sounds like something off their `Flesh and Blood' album.

Side B's title track `Bumerang' frequently gets your hopes up. The piece alternates between eerie synths and cold electronic sections that build a floating and mysterious atmosphere, while being obliterated by Bryan Ferry, oh, I mean Fred's come-hither yearning and more plodding drumwork. Probably one of the better pieces on the album that really had some potential. `Horoskop' is a boppy and bouncy cheesy dance number with an admittedly catchy pop chorus, but it's still vile and far too cheery. Only the oddly heavy and aggressive guitar playing and some sprightly bass moments keep it bearable...sort of. At least the band wraps the album with the more downbeat `Talisman'. Nice murmuring bass, glistening synths and a somber vocal. It's stylish pop for grown ups and actually displays a little bit of subtlety. More of this and the title track, and we could have had a much more satisfying album overall.

As for the three instrumental pieces, they're mostly insipid and vapid vocal-free rock with no real purpose. Not unlistenable, just completely shallow and empty, if kind of bearable. `Ubert Stock Und Stein' has a soaring but repetitive guitar line wailing over a horrid plastic drumbeat and handclap percussion, Alan Parsons Project style synth washes and chiming guitar. There's impossibly loud and echoing `In The Air Tonight' booming drum-solos throughout the second half too. `Wien' has disco-like funky guitar over wailing solos and more lifeless drumming. Much of `Expresso' sounds like an instrumental version of Queen's `Radio GaGa', but once again Detlef Job's confident and forceful guitar work gives the tracks a bit of taste.

I've always found it fascinating when prog bands try to attempt a balance between progressive inventiveness and commercial appeal. I didn't look on this album as an easy target for a 1 or 2 star rating, I really wanted to approach it fairly and consider it's strengths and weaknesses here. However, It's only fair to mark the album down for having far more pop elements than prog ones, and after all, this is a progressive rock website!

While `Bumerang' is far from a jewel in the Novalis discography, it's still a pleasant if undemanding sophisticated pop album with some tasteful arrangements, especially among the two or three darker pieces. You can still hear the talent of the musicians, even if what they're playing isn't overly involving or complex. It's nothing mind-blowing, but not bad for a pleasant background listen if you can forgive the 80's pop trappings and questionable trends present.

Two stars.

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 Novalis by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.75 | 126 ratings

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Novalis
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The future of Novalis did not seem bright after their debut.An extensive tour both in Germany and abroad was too much for singer J'rgen Wenzel and the recordings of a second album were abandoned.Two years later though Achim Reichel rediscovered Novalis with a different line-up featuring two guitarists, Detlef Job and ex-Tomorrow's Gift Carlo Karges.Reichel helped the new Novalis sign again with Brain Records and a sophomore effort with Heino Schunzel handling also the vocals was released in 1975.It was simply entitled ''Novalis'' to notify the band's brand new start.

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

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

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 Sommerabend by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.71 | 142 ratings

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Sommerabend
Novalis Symphonic Prog

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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