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Novalis - Sommerabend CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 189 ratings

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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 "Wunderschätze". The latter borrowed its text from the band's 18th century namesake poet, who might have been pleasantly surprised at how easily his words could be adapted to modern rock 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 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.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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