Novalis - Sommerabend. 1976 Germany

When Sommerabend was chosen as a random album to listen to, I was quite excited to catch up with it again. It's probably been 20 years since I last heard it, but my recollection and grade at the time was quite high. Recently I finally penetrated the debut Banished Bridge, capturing a drifty Krautrock vibe that I had missed prior. And the second album is the one I'd always held in the highest esteem (another one I need to revisit). As the years go by, I value melodic songwriting more and more, and that's right in the wheelhouse of this era of Novalis. So with all of that as background context, and the fact Sommerabend is typically rated the highest by fans, I figured this would be the listen where the album opened up for me in a big way.

Nope. In fact it took a step back. But at first I was highly engaged. The instrumental 'Aufbruch' is exactly what I was expecting, with memorable melody lines, and creative breaks. It is on 'Wunderschätze' that the albums begins to break down. At first, my positive bias carried it through. But a second listen had me realizing where the problem lies. And that's because the side longer title track doesn't hold up as well, and reveals this material weakness. Now I'm not suggesting it isn't any good - of course it maintains that melodic and spacey vibe Novalis is known for - but it gets a bit... dull on occasion. Whereas Banished Bridge maintains this Dom like downer mysterious vibe, Sommerabend just sounds mopey dopey at times. Perhaps the band is too sober by 1976. It's more like same era Eloy / Pink Floyd verse the more sprightly sound that Novalis seems to have patented, and exploited more on their sophomore effort.

For certain a worthy album for the collection, but it's a definite 3rd place in their canon as far as I'm concerned.

Personal collection

LP: 1976 Brain (green label)
CD: 1992 Brain

The album is a single sleeve but features wonderful cover art.

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