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Novalis - Banished Bridge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 106 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recorded and released in 1973, Novalis' debut album is atypical in many ways: the sung parts are in English (delivered by a lead singer with little power and a limited range), the instrumentation lacks guitar (except for some acoustic guitar provided by the aforesaid lead singer). Even more essentially, the band's style is yet to convey that magical mixture of clear melodic symphonic rock and space-rock that made the best of their most accomplished efforts: by now, in this seminal phase, the band seems patently influenced by British proto-prog (Gracious, Beggar's Opera, perhaps some Procol Harum). Anyway, all in all this is by no means a criticism of Lutz Rahn's work on the keyboard department: he sure can use his arsenal (piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizer) in a very fruitful fashion, delivering orchestrations, harmonic bases and polished solos convincingly and with pure skill. This very factor is crucial for the excellence incarnated in the namesake suite, which fills the vinyl's A-side. The main motifs (recurrent in a well-ordained succession) are inspired, and some arrangements bear a punchy feel, like those dialogues between organ and tympani that appear twice in the middle. Rahn, at this point, seemed to bear influences from Wright, Wakeman and Banks although never becoming a mere clone. Once this 17 minute suite is over, we are pass the album's apex, but it would be unfair and inaccurate to say that the remaining tracks are unworthy. On the contrary, they serve properly to fill the band's vision. 'High Evolution' and 'Inside of Me (Inside of You)' era the most perfect examples of the proto-prog trend that I've mentioned before. Of these two, I prefer the latter since it offers a major variation of ideas in pure progressive fashion; on the other hand, I don't really like the somewhat lame closing passage, which IMHO should have been more climatic. Between these numbers is 'Laughing', the least Novalis-like song in this or any other album from the band's first era. It starts with a motif based on pastoral almost-country acoustic guitar (something like Dylan-meets-CSN), and them turns into a different one, dominated by keyboards, with a suave, ethereal mood. In certain moments, this track reminds me of what Eloy was also doing in their seminal years. Every band starts somewhere, and this start is good, promising, but at the end of the day, not really great as a whole. Anyway, Novalis was destined to do more important things for the evolution of the prog genre in Germany: even this underdeveloped debut album is better than the best by Jane or Triumvirat, just to put some other German examples.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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