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Novalis - Sommerabend CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 198 ratings

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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
stefro | 4/5 |


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