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Vita Nova - Vita Nova CD (album) cover


Vita Nova


Eclectic Prog

3.90 | 28 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The multi-national, Munich-based trio of Vita Nova (Latin for New Life) recorded their one album in 1971, with a limited pressing of only 500 LPs. Most of those were given away to friends, so it's fair to say the band never attracted enough fans to even qualify as a cult act. Our loss, but a quarter-century later they finally lived up to their name, after the belated digital re-release of an unknown treasure from a year that arguably marked the high tide of Prog Rock creativity, especially in Germany.

The trio (without a dedicated bass guitarist) was led by guitarist Eddy Marron, soon to rejuvenate the jazz combo DZYAN into a fascinating ethno-psychedelic jam band. Here he adopted the curious studio pseudonym Ed Ugly-Ugly, enlisting a drummer and keyboard player for this untamed instrumental free-for-all, topped with the occasional vocal sung (of course!) in Latin.

The mostly short tracks (half of the album's original twelve cuts are less than two-minutes long; only one cracks the six-minute mark) all flow smoothly into each other, as if Marron and company were anxious to nail down the next idea before their muse left the room. But there was an astonishing energy holding it all together, matched only by the dynamic whirlwind of the music itself.

Some of the more eclectic sections (the majority of the album) sound not unlike a Krautrock ELP. Other episodes, like the hectic jamming in the "Vita Nova Inventions", recall the dark gothic fury of early VDGG, minus the distraction of Peter Hammill's singing. But the music throughout is never less than unique, and often wildly diverse. Marron trades a brief but torrid electric guitar solo in the opening "Quomodo Manet" for a sterling turn on a Turkish baglama in the aptly-titled "Istanbul". Elsewhere, the cascading acoustic piano of Sylvester Levay in his namesake track "Sylvester" makes a bold contrast to the High Mass of "Adoramus", complete with lofty cathedral pipe organ.

Even drummer Christian Hoff gets a share of the spotlight, setting up a groovy solo in "Wildman". And let's not ignore the ecstatic Third World ritual chanting of "Heya-Cleya", another unexpected detour on an album already racing half-way around the world.

The master tapes for the album were apparently lost, and the 1995 CD re-issue was (presumably) restored from vinyl elements. But it sounds fantastic, and the pair of never- before heard bonus tracks only adds more frosting to a cake that hasn't lost any of its flavor after four decades on the shelf. Vita Nova may have been a one-shot wonder, but their aim was true. And it's never too late to hear what we've all been missing.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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