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ALPHA RALPHA

Eclectic Prog • France


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Alpha Ralpha biography
ALPHA RALPHA were a short-lived band with Michel Mareska on electric guitar, Claude Alvarez-Peryre on electric and acoustic guitars, Jean Alain Gardet on keyboards, Charlie Charriras on bass and Emmanuel Lacordaire on percussion. On their only album, four more musicians appeared: Francois Breant on piano and synth, Jean de Anthony and Claude Samard on guitars, and Jean-Jaques Goldman on vocals.

Alvarez-Peryre, a co-founder of the group was a member of MALICORNE, while Gardet and Goldman were the members of TAI PHONG.

The band released only one album, the self-titled LP released for Warner in Canada and France in 1977. Their music could be described as a mixture of jazz rock and French symphonic, where guitars are keyboards are carrying the melodies for the most part, with occasional usage of vibraphone and marimba, and vocal harmonies.


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  • Nova Alpha Ralpha, 1977

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4.22 | 23 ratings
Alpha Ralpha
1977

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ALPHA RALPHA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alpha Ralpha by ALPHA RALPHA album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.22 | 23 ratings

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Alpha Ralpha
Alpha Ralpha Eclectic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars In every serious prog collection, there are always a few albums that have achieved 'reverential' status even though that epithet seemed only to be shared by very few, if any. I remember purchasing the vinyl copy of this album in 1977 when it was released in Canada on Warner Brothers, motivated by the cool spectral cover and a line-up of a few talented musicians such as Tai Phong's Jean-Alain Gardet and the legendary Francois Breant on keys and Jean- Jacques Goldman (well before becoming a pop superstar), as well as drummer Emmanuel Lacordaire (Nemo, Breant). Rounded out by Malicorne's Claude Alvarez-Pereyre, Michel Mareska on lead guitar, Charlie Charriras on bass. I loved the album from the very first spin, especially inspired by the opener "Synergie" which I consider a rather unique track of iconic proportions. The remaining, mostly all-instrumental tracks have a naïve preciousness that defies description, yes dated but utterly charming. The entire set-list is very well-balanced and exudes unending inspiration. I have patiently waited for nearly 40 years for a CD version and finally, that day has come, as Paisley Press has dedicated its time and resources to release this on CD.

The affair kicks off with the spectacular "Synergie", an immediate winner built around a zig-zagging fuzzed guitar phrasing that evokes determination and originality, not overtly complex but extremely gratifying. Wistful, syncopated, forceful and resolute, the layered mood exudes a sizzling charm that sets the table for a perfect musical experience. This track has been a perennial fave since the day it was spawned and I have used it many times on various playlists (audio cassettes, remember those?) as introduction.

The three part "Nova" keeps the pace ablaze with some lavish choir work (A Tai Phong trait), followed by some zippy synths and a dynamic rhythmic pulse, furthered by a galloping bass and complex drums, with Breant's exuberant piano work and Mareska shooting off some gritty solos. Then a more country styled finger-picking break (guest Claude Samard) that evolves into a blitzing axe solo, as well as a superb and unique double synth foray on the Arp Odyssey.

The brief "Syrtis Major" reverts to a gentle space lullaby, heavily dependent on the Elka string synthesizer, a rather mythical French instrument that is comparable to the mellotron in original sound. This is of course, a perfect segue into the 'piece de resistance', the aptly titled "Genese", an epic 8 minute plus symphonic ride that owns some serious references to the Genesis model, with delicate string guitar weavings, extroverted percussion patterns, looping bass and primo keyboard work, typically on piano. The highly distorted electric guitar (Samard) certainly hints at the Hackett sound, perhaps in a bluesier vein, so the comparisons to fellow countrymen Pulsar are quite warranted, offering up some lovely and intricate melodies and skilled soloing. The marimba effects are equally applause worthy.

The beautiful melody on "Rez" is sadly too short but the keyboard package is noteworthy, then abruptly exploding into a jazzy jam led by a busy bass rumble, fueled by stinging guitars, honky-tonk piano and surprise: a slithering violin volley that gets taken over by a distorted axe excursion from guest Jean de Antony that just hisses with passion. This is very jazz-fusion, sounding almost like classic JL Ponty (another Frenchman). Wow! "Magellan", named after the first circumnavigator of our planet, is another epic 7 minute slab of symphonic prowess featuring the indomitable style of Francois Breant, both on piano and ARP, providing a more experimental edge. The arrangement is armed with dissonance and intricacy, Charriras curling some nifty patterns on his bass guitar, paralleled by the suave keys and the mighty e-guitar. Shifting between hard and soft passages, this is truly a cinematic adventure that warrants repeated returns, in depth investigations that focus on all the subtleties woven into the piece. The laid-back moments are incredible and the insistent ones surge suddenly, showing again an affinity to Pulsar. Both De Antony and Mareska deliver simply stupendous solos here.

The delicate , very Moerlin-era Gong sound of "Lagune Ouest " is dominated by Alvarez-Pereyre on marimba and violin , firmly encamped in a more folk tradition , not shocking as Malicorne was his previous band. Finally the celestial "Hymn" closes out this fantastic jewel, a rare and unique one-shot wonder that is, IMHO' a must- have in any prog collection, not only for the music contained within, but its precious rarity in being further discovered. The heavenly voices and exalted violin create a sense of magical release that will soothe the soul and elicit the smiles.

This is probably a 4 star recording for most fans but my feelings as well as the seemingly eternal anticipation force me to elevate this to the loftiest heights. Desert island choice for sure.

5 Long time waitings

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 Alpha Ralpha by ALPHA RALPHA album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.22 | 23 ratings

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Alpha Ralpha
Alpha Ralpha Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Most super obscure prog rock bands are on tiny labels or even private releases that are extremely hard to find and cost a bunch of money, and you only hope some label took up to the plate and had it reissued, like Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories (which was reissued). The French band Alpha Ralpha is very obscure, I don't even bother bringing it up because no one's heard of it, and yet they recorded for Warner Bros. Original LPs aren't too terribly expensive, but might be a bit hard to find outside of France and Canada (it was also released in Canada). I remembered some websites believing this group was Canadian, from Quebec, but they're not, only because the person running that website owned the Canadian pressing. They're indeed French, unfortunately never been reissued on any format.

Although recorded from May to September 1976, it didn't appear until 1977 (this album could have easily appeared in November 1976, but didn't, probably record company politics). This is some rather original, but perhaps not the most mindblowing prog you're going hear all year. The group consisted of bassist Charlie Charriras, guitarist Claude Alvarez-Pereyre, guitarist Michel Mareska, keyboardist Jean Alain Gardet, and drummer Emmanuel Lacordaire. I have a feeling this group was discovered by Tai Phong, not only being on the same label, but the fact that Jean-Jacques Goldman and the two Vietnamese brothers Tai and Kahn guest on this album providing some wordless voices. Also some member of Malicorne guests as well as François Bréant, of the obscure and wonderful group Cruciferius, who later recorded two albums in 1978 and 1979 on EGG that aren't impossible to get a hold of. I really can't compare this to any group in particular. "Synergy" features some nice spacy string synths and nice guitar work. "Nova" features some more nice guitar and Mini Moog work, although there's a short passage with a country influence (complete with steel guitar) I think was a bit of a mistake. "Syris Major" seems to be just a short spacy bit that leads to the nice "Genese". I especially like the use of marimba on it. "Magellan" bears more than a passing resemblance to something I've heard off François Bréant's Sons Optique, which I guess is no surprise given he appears on that song providing his keyboard work, and I can easily tell it's him as he has a style totally different from Jean Alain Gardet.

Don't let the Tai Phong connection scare you off, if Tai Phong isn't to your liking, as this is largely instrumental progressive rock, with only the occasional wordless voices (from the Tai Phong guys). Although you can only get it as a used LP (and one that won't break your bank account, thankfully), it's a nice album to have in your collection.

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