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Antonius Rex - Ralefun CD (album) cover

RALEFUN

Antonius Rex

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.19 | 33 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
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 baked.you 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.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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