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Novalis - Banished Bridge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 106 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Read some of the other reviews here of the debut album by Novalis and you'll notice comparisons to many (and more familiar) English bands: Camel, King Crimson, Procul Harum, Pink Floyd, so forth and so on. Proof, perhaps, that they weren't the most original outfit in Europe at the time.

But of course the same criticism applied to just about every secondhand Prog Rocker on the Continent in 1973. And while this first album certainly carried a heavy debt to their cross- channel role models, the young German quartet at least wore those influences in a more disarming, down-to-earth fashion (minus, for example, the obvious Floydian Space Rock clichés of other imitators).

The lack of an electric guitarist gives the music a relaxed pastoral quality, as heard in the gentle birdsongs introducing the side-long title track, before it kicks up a notch and becomes a fairly dynamic organ and synth-powered juggernaut. The epic 17-plus minute length is misleading, however: it's actually a six-minute song played twice, with a spacey spoken-word bridge in between.

And, despite the heavy emphasis on keyboards, there's a refreshing absence of spotlight- hugging pyrotechnics. Maybe for good reason: Lutz Rahn was clearly no Keith Emerson, and his organ solos (notably in "High Evolution" and "Laughing") were always more tasteful than tacky.

But the English-language vocals were a miscalculation, and not just because of the trite lyrics, although a song like "Inside of Me (Inside of You") can be ruined if you pay close attention to the words. Obviously it was a bid for wider geographic (i.e. British and American) sales, but the band's own cultural identity suffered as a result. Thankfully they learned their lesson quickly, and on future albums would reinvent themselves as a very German rock group.

As illustrated in the empty cover art there's nothing too distinctive here. But the album is nevertheless a very pleasant experience, especially for Prog fans wanting a well-oiled time machine to the Golden Age of European Symphonic Rock.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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