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Antonius Rex - Ralefun CD (album) cover


Antonius Rex

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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3 stars good I finish listening to this disc and is enough stranger was not what it hoped to me. the track that but I please me was Incubus very advanced for that epoca. with also dances I am called the attention by its style very similar to music disco in strange summary album but good, somewhat hard to digest. Antonius Rex
Report this review (#34313)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The biggest departure album from Jacula/Rex

Out of a careers worth of albums, "Ralefun" (aka Funeral) seems to be the biggest departure from Jacula/Rex's experimental, esoteric sound. The dark vibes and gothic organs are placed mostly on hold while the group pursues what could be described as haunted-forest rock I suppose, with moods that are uncharacteristically light-hearted and laid-back. While the lyrics are apparently still on the dark side the music only occasionally is. After Jacula ended and Antonius Rex delivered their ominous debut album, one senses from reading the available histories (which are scant for English-only researchers) that Antonio and Doris began to lose interest a bit. They released an album called "Zora" which I have not yet heard but is described with some distaste by the artists themselves, and another called "Anno Demoni" which appears to be a compilation of re-worked tracks. As the '70s wore on, the couple began to experience what Bob Weir once joked about as "more adult considerations" when their son Rex Anthony was born in 1977. Antonio has written that money became an issue at the same time that their patience for making albums was wearing thin. The other occurrence of interest at this time was that Rex's drummer and occult-enthusiast eccentric Albert Goodman died mysteriously in 1978 (and was replaced by the musically superior Jean-Luc Jabouille.) Rex were not interested in recording at this point, but RCA came along with a good offer and the hastily recorded "Ralefun" ended up becoming the band's most commercially successful album. Just as the things were actually taking off for Antonius Rex, they would make one more album before walking away from the project for over two decades.

If you've only heard the Jacula and first Rex album you might think you have the wrong band when you hear Ralefun, which sometimes sounds like a cross between Comus and Pablo Cruise. This is not the place to begin your Jacula/Rex experience as it is the biggest departure from their excellent sound. And yet amidst this "neglected child" which the band admits was quickly recorded and poorly produced, there are a few wonderful moments that fans will want to hear.AFTER you've heard the more essential offerings. As soon as "Magic Sadness" begins, you will welcome the wonderful bass presence and the addition of a real drummer in Jabouille. While Albert Goodman was interesting on the experimental stuff he was never up to a band approach and it is exciting to hear Rex actually rocking out like a conventional band. Side one brings in some great flute over the rock courtesy of guest musician Hugo Heredia and sitting in on bass is guest Marco Ratti. The composition is really interesting even if the cake was only half can hear the potential here but you can also tell that the enthusiasm Bartoccetti and Norton had on the early albums is on the shelf. The middle of side one gets pretty weak especially on the nearly disco "Witch Dance" but they recover a bit on "Incubus" with some beautiful repeating electric guitar phrases and nice piano moments. Had the best ideas on side one (minus Witch Dance) been molded into one long track and more carefully crafted, this album would be formidable. The mood in the better sections is somewhat wistful and melancholic, not so dark although never quite hopeful. There is also a bit of "woodlands" feel again likely due to the use of flute and acoustic guitar, as well as animal sound effects. Side two is an improvement with the excellent "In Einsteinesse's Memory" which is a briskly paced folksy rocker with mellow vocals, acoustic guitar, and flute. There is a superb interlude with an almost jazzy bass, guitar, and flute that is thrilling. Last is the 12 minute epic synth and guitar meditation called "Enchanted Wood." Amidst bird sounds, spooky vocals, and foggy synthesizers, Antonio kicks way back and improvs on his electric lead. Now this isn't exactly gripping prog but more along the lines of Floyd's "Granchester Meadow" with a bit more hair on its chest. There entire musical ride of Ralefun is not as exciting or satisfying as the Jacula adventures but it certainly was interesting for me to hear them try this more conventional approach for one album.

Personally "Ralefun" is a delight to me but then I do enjoy Jacula/Rex very much, as they are unique, esoteric, and irreverent..all factors I appreciate. They are too much for some people to accept and they openly admit they make albums for themselves and their small cult audience. They don't give a rip what the critics of their music and thematic subjects think, thankfully. There's enough here for me to award 3 stars and with a bit more care it could have been more. Mellow Records did a decent job with the CD reissue, the sound is not perfect but nor is it the disaster I expected based on things I was reading. However there is no booklet to speak of, just a single page insert, and this was very disappointing.

Report this review (#214375)
Posted Friday, May 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album from "Antonius Rex" is much more accessible than their previous releases. Actually, I couldn't enjoy their first three efforts (I only liked very "Jacula" s debut actually).

This album which is on the short side opens with a symphonic and harmonious "Magic Sadness". Fully instrumental (as most of their music up to now) but easier in approach than most of their songs so far. Even if the global atmosphere is not truly joyful, this album conveys quite enjoyable moments: "Agonia Per Un Amore" which features fine fluting with some oppressive background music (this is still an "Antonius Rex" album, don't worry).

The relation with "Black Widow" is definite during the heavier and upbeat "Witch Dance". Again, fluting is quite accurate. It is not the first time that I could find a musical relation between both bands. There is even some "dance" feel available in here!

Their dark music is also represented on this "Relafun", but again, it has been fully "humanized" and is quite enjoyable ("Incubus"). The flute addition is of course not alien to this feeling (as you might know, I quite like this instrument).

I wouldn't be as positive about the disco-oriented "Einsteinesse's Memory" which is rather poor and sounds better while pressed next?

Nonetheless, this is by far their best work ever. The closing track is rather hermetic though and should be related with their earlier work: the mood is experimental, dark, almost doom at times. Not too enchanting?

A good album overall. Three stars.

Report this review (#246221)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is the review of the re-release on Black Widow from last/this year. The seven minutes long Proxima Luna (second to last song) is the only change from the original album, to my knowledge. A song that does not make this album any better.

I am not familiar with neither Jacula or this artist so this is my first foray into Antonius world. A foray that starts with some really pleasant RPI. Or to be more precise; the first four songs are middle of the road RPI with the usual 1970s sound. This album was recorded in the 1970s so no wonder. There are some space rock too infused into the very comfortable RPI sound. Banco and PFM springs to mind. The vocals are pretty weak though. But the flute, guitars and tangents disguise the weak vocals. I am pleased.

The album takes a nosedive from there on and to the end. In my case; that's twenty minutes of dissonant noodling with some voices and chants inbetween. If this is satanic chants, I really feel sorry for the devil. The quality is really poor.

In other words; this album is a game of two halves. The end result is not that impressive, but this is still a good album which has not turned me into a fan of Antonius Rex.

3 stars

Report this review (#411432)
Posted Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Italian outfit ANTONIUS REX, was formed in 1974, following the cancellation of Bartocetti and Norton's previous band Jacula. "Ralefun" from 1979 was their third full album production, and 32 years after it's initial release it is reissued for the second time courtesy of Italian label Black Widow.

The mystical musical journeys of the Italian band Antonius Rex tend to be of a nature that will ever so slightly intimidate on first encounter. "Ralefun" is the sole exception of the creations in their back catalogue, sporting lighter, mystical and even accessible escapades. A relatively gentle introduction to the dark universe explored by Bartoccetti and Norton, and perhaps an ever so slightly surprising experience for those who have discovered this act in the last decade or so and who haven't started to investigate its past.

Report this review (#483732)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Having been a big fan of both the Antonius Rex and Jacula projects (the first Jacula album is easily one of my absolute favourites) for many years now, I was very excited to grab the reissue of this album when it released a little while back. I'd only ever read mostly negative reviews about it, but for some reason I was always deeply fascinated to discover it for myself. Up until the re-release, I doubted that I would ever come across the album, due to it being so rare.

To begin with, the album sounds almost nothing like any other Jacula/Rex album before or since, having more in common perhaps with traditional Italian prog albums. It's not quite as heavy and oppressive, and the occult elements are very much toned down to be almost non existent for much of the album. Instead it has beautiful melodic electric guitar solos, spacey keyboards, very pleasant vocals and ferocious flute playing! The album is actually full of an uplifting romanticism, with only occasional dark touches.

The first track `Magic Sadness' reminds me for some reason of the Solaris `Martian Chronicles' album, although that was years later. Wonderful keyboard sections on this track that repeat a few times. Fully instrumental, it's a very striking opening and it grabs your attention straight away. The simple drumming reminds me a lot of Nick Mason, not the only moment on this album that reminds of Pink Floyd.

After a spoken word intro, `Agonia per un Amore' makes me think so much of P.F.M, with very warm vocals and acoustic guitar playing. Doris Norton's sparse piano is very engaging, and the beautiful flute playing are two wonderful highlights on this track. Anyone who likes Italian prog albums would enjoy this simple but effective piece very much.

`Witch Dance' has some guitar riffs that remind a little of Black Sabbath, and it's one of the heavier tracks on the album, which some terrific wailing solos and even more of that busy flute, it really takes off on this one! Despite the title, and Bartoccetti proclaiming `You are my black witch!' many times throughout the track, it's not very dark or sinister at all, actually almost comical, though I doubt that was the desired effect they wanted!

Perhaps my favourite track on the album, `Incubus' has many great simple guitar moments repeated over and over, and some gorgeous piano and organ in the middle from Doris. There also a slightly annoying overuse of a bat sound effect throughout parts of this one, but it helps add to the slight uneasy tension and drama of the track.

`In Einsteinesse's Memory' is a more upbeat track, with an almost dancey/disco beat and endless flute soloing, the electric guitar playing off it a lot of the time. Once again Bartoccetti's simple vocal is very warm and melodic, nice to hear him actually singing like this. Not many other moments like this on their other albums.

The last track ` Enchanted Wood' is the most experimental piece of the album, a 12-minute near ambient piece, filled with both natural, perhaps forest sounds, and also slightly ominous and unsettling unnatural effects, creating a very ghostly and hypnotic atmosphere. Very mysterious and fascinating. Very low-key guitar improvisations and spacey keyboard. All the players get some very subtle and effective moments on this track.

Overall the album is highlighted by the terrific flute and organ/piano playing throughout, and the presence of acoustic guitar on some parts of the album adds a very warm sound to this album, which is unusual in comparison to many other Rex albums. The music is not exactly complicated, but much of it is very melodic and tasteful, making it a good album to having playing in the background, to be able to enjoy on the surface without having to listen intently to complicated arrangements and time-changes.

Highly recommended album, fast becoming a bit of a favourite of mine. Track down the gorgeous Black Widow vinyl reissue like I did!

Report this review (#581146)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of the weirdest Italian progrock albums from the Seventies I have heard (1979). The prime mover is Antonio Bartoccetti (guitar, bass, vocals), his almost hallucinating compositions are based upon seances and the cooperation of a medium! Female singer Fiamma Dello Spirito (also flute and violin) sounds like a nice witch, keyboardplayer acts like the alter ego of Christopher Lee with his chilling church organ sound and medium Franz Parthenzy seems to come straight from hell. If you like horror and progrock and you want to sublimate some satanic urges, this CD could be a deadly serious experience!

Antonius Rex is the pseudonym for the adventurous and wayward guitarplayer/singer Antonio Bartoccetti. He started his carreer with the fascinating musical project Jacula, a group musicians that was led by Antonio and Doris Norton (aka Fiamma Dallo Spirito). In 1969 they released the debut LP entitled In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, in 1972 followed by Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus featuring dark prog with majestic church organ work (blended with ominous female vocals, very special, to say the least! Two years later Antonio and Doris kept on making music as Antonius Rex. In between they released a serie of studio-albums, Ralefun from 1979 is considered as their best from that era.

The music is very alternating, from dreamy and psychedelic to atmospheric and powerful rock. The strong point in their music is de colouring with flute, guitar and keyboards.

A heavy church organ sound and then a tight rhythm in the previously unreleased bonustrack Proxima Luna.

Dreamy with warm vocals and flute in Agonia Per Un Amore.

Powerful rock with fiery guitar and Jethro Tull-like flute in Witch Dance,

Minimoog synthesizer runs and sensitive guitar in Magic Sadness.

And atmospheric with flute and keyboards in the long but a bit unstructured Enchanted Wood.

An interesting project, but I prefer the more captivating and adventurous Jacula.

My rating: 3,5 star.

P.s.: If you like more dark prog, see my social comment here, with a review about Italian prog band L'Impero Delle Ombre (not on PA).

Report this review (#1954212)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2018 | Review Permalink

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