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Novalis - Augenblicke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 45 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Whereas early NOVALIS albums contained longer tracks of which few were entirely instrumental, in the 1980s they streamlined their approach to almost exclusively shorter tracks, of which approximately half were lyric free. The sound was still loosely progressive but many prog fans might find it a bit too accessible. Fred Mühlböck remains front row center on the vocal tracks and shows remarkable versatility. Here he instigates fewer heavy handed moments than on "Flossenengel", but also doesn't hit the mellow peaks of the predecessor.

Nothing from any part of the band's prolific past prepares one for the opener, the fluid instrumental "Danmark", simply the most breathtaking and spine-tingling tune in their entire discography. It appears to include a German synthesized wind instrument called a variophone played by Mühlböck. The timbre is like a cross between a synth and a sax. But the ecstatic crescendos of the melody overwhelm me. I could have wished for more than the three and a half minutes proffered, but perhaps short and sweet perfection is highest art.

Of course, little else can measure up, except for "Herbstwind", a magnificent folk-influenced song with more delicate instrumentation. It reminds me of British Isles groups like LOUDEST WHISPER or PERERIN, it's that good, but I suppose fellow Germans OUGENWEIDE or HOELDERLIN may have planted the seed.

The remainder is a melange of good and average in approximately equal proportion. Instrumentally, "Mit Den Zugvögeln" is a romantic piano and string laden piece that builds itself up quite well, even if it sounds a bit pre-YANNI ish. It leads into the languid CAMEL and BJH -inspired "Sphinx". Mühlböck excels in two further ballads, "Als kleiner Junge" and the epilog "Begegnungen" (with more lovely variophone I believe).

NOVALIS in 1980 can still deliver on their original romantic vision, but, whereas their early work seemed disappointing for its style, this album sets the bar high for early 1980s pop prog, in a way also achieved by ANYONE'S DAUGHTER's work of the same period. It's a rounding up augenblicke.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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