|.||with the Italian musician ANTONIUS REX|
by Augusto CroceProgressive
Augusto Croce - Which was the reason for the bands’ splitting?
Antonius Rex: The Jacula chapter finished in 1972: Charles (a mad 68-year old with a 18-year old wife) didn’t want to understand that rust quickly eats the treasures, and at the same time after my degree at Milan Catholic University I knew that I’d have to join the Army. Moreover, the band’s name was too “epidermic”. Antonius Rex, a logical consequence of the former band, split in 1980: one of the reasons was that we were not satisfied of the way we quickly recorded Ralefun, an album full of good compositions badly released that was our only work that has had good sales thanks to the RCA marketing team and Sidet promotion. Unfortunately Ralefun still is our best known release, or the least unknown as most of our albums really are. Probably our goal has never been the business, and for this reason the best records like Praeter (self produced for our MR label to avoid dealing with record companies’ executives), the early ones or Anno Domini are very far from the commercial taste. The Antonius Rex event had closed its “deliberately anomalous” cycle with the 2 + 6 predestined albums, some of which were inevitably anonymous, like In Cauda Semper stat Venenum and Neque Semper tendit Arcum. The last one was boycotted by Vertigo due to the Devil letter track. We had reached our goal to release records only for ourselves and maybe for the few ones who followed us. Zora was recorded only for money because we needed it and that’s another album that we don’t like despite the fact that some reviewers consider it a good work and many people know it.Your lyrics often refer to witchcraft. Who are your witches?
Antonius Rex: It’s usually considered a witch anyone who denies the white to adore the black, convinces others to love him, loves the incest, diverts the human seed off its natural destination, knows how to bring life to an end and how to capture the mind. The females characters in our lyrics are different: these beings are able to show magically the way to anyone who thinks not to have it, or to anyone who finds himself at the center of a crossroads. But the witches in Aquila non Capit Muscas are sort of divine avengers, eager for blood.How would you summarize your music from the beginnings up to 1980?
Antonius Rex: In that decade of overindulgence it was the fate that defined the appearance of our music. When we came to Milan, and later to London, in our mind there was even the wish to form a supergroup with great musicians that could put their creative help to our compositions. Maybe we’d have made piles of money by doing this, but surely we’d lived much worse and we’d have lost our way in search of vanity. Fatally it didn’t go that way: we only recorded what we had composed and initially we needed Charles Tiring because none of us two was a classical organist; for the same reason we needed Albert [Goodman, drummer] for his percussionist technique though it was rather poor if compared to our favourite drummer, Carl Palmer. I think our music was able to create a hidden image, a suggestion that “is” before being visible as the spectrum of the light. Our music was an esoteric symbol in which we expressed the lost advantage that assigned to the cultural function of mystery, a fascinating small margin of its spiritual escape. By listing our eight works in whose sound impressions we described the indescribable, we tried to give the earthly mortals one more chance to foresee their instances. Someone said of us that we were “non-technical producers of mystery blurred mirror images”.Are there any conceptual differences between Jacula, Antonius Rex and the other groups you were in, despite being based on the same nucleus of musicians?
Antonius Rex: There are no particular conceptual differences between them; I love to mention only Jacula and Antonius Rex and ignore both Dietro Noi Deserto and Invisible Force. In fact the first two Jacula albums represent our beginning, and the first Antonius Rex LP is the logical evolution of those two.We have already discussed about Zora and Ralefun, two ridiculous albums both on the conceptual and the artistic-technical side. On Zora Mr Albert Goodman wanted to play the drums leaving tympani and percussion…. the rhytmical result of Zora is really terrible.Jacula and Antonius Rex are cult bands both in Italy and abroad. Have you ever thought of releasing any retrospective works (such as box sets or books) for your fans from all over the world?
Antonius Rex: We thought about this many times, and it seems a very good idea; we also have some videos that can be put on DVD. Let’s wait for the right time to come!All the Jacula and Antonius Rex have been released in limited numbers? Elite music or a commercial choice?
Antonius Rex: All our albums except Ralefun can be described as limited, musical emotions for a selected group, to accept or refuse as a whole. I wouldn’t call it a commercial choice, because when you’re 20 and you think you’re a god, you don’t mind the marketing reasons. I’d rather talk of fate, we had to make records that had to despair into the fogs of the woods. The only naïve illusion was given to us by Albert in 1974, he promised us that Neque would be issued by Vertigo: things would have then gone in a different way… but all that happened was written.How do you judge the high prices reached by your records on the collectors’ market?
Antonius Rex: I think there are only two ways to reach an apparent truth: on the first side, rationally speaking, it’s been difficult to find our works for the collectors from all over the world; if a record is rare, and has some relevant contents, it attracts collectors. On another side add to this the highly thematic and probably trustworthy esoteric communication that some of our works (except Zora and Ralefun) contain. If you mix these two aspects, what is rare becomes even rarer because it deals with mystery, that’s a fascinating thing. Of course knowing that an original 1977 issue of Zora is sold at $ 350 is a pleasure, but it’s also amazing, considering that objectively that record lacks strength and originality.How do you explain the lack of live concerts?
Antonius Rex: We made a single concert, I think it was in 1972 at Teatro dell'Arte in Milano with just 45 paying guests, but it was satisfying because the ticket was 50000 lire. Later, in 1979, we had a beautiful european tour: you can find the dates advertised on Ciao 2001. Then Albert despaired and we had to cancel the concert at Teatro Argentina in Milan despite the fact there were 2000 followers at the doors.Is it nice for you that Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex is now reissued 28 years after its original release?
Antonius Rex: It’s fairly good, because along with Praternatural it was the album that took much efforts to be done. We still have 22 copies of the original and in a Warsaw market we found some reissues that I think are probably illegal. Now we gave the rights for the master to the Black Widow label and the lyrics’ rights to an italo-american group that was much attracted by the text contents.How come you often used to go to Romania?
Antonius Rex: We still consider Romania as our second home, especially for the high theological sense that its inhabitants naturally own. It’s also the native country of Tepes, who surely inspired our creativity.Do you regret that some of your LP’s went totally unnoticed?
Antonius Rex: Not at all. Some LP were born to be unknown to the straight audiences and to the marketing. Some people started talking about our second LP, Tardo pede, in 1980 only, that’s eight years after it was first released. All this was part of our original projects and our inevitable choices, and is still satisfying now. The Works are here to stay, and maybe tomorrow some will talk again of U.F.D.E.M., Magister dixit, Triumphatus, Incubus, Non fiat, Ego sum, In hoc signo, Necromancer, the hand of Gloria or mister Vlad, keeping in mind that not all the costumes that our society created to be worn by the Ghosts can be musically represented with no contradiction with what some demented people have arbitrarily decided to be the musical language.What are your recollections of London?
Antonius Rex: London was and still is an infected metropolis, able to infect the whole world. On the musical side there were very good producers but they just wanted compromises, and the musicians who accepted these rules could earn much money.Do you still follow any artists?
Antonius Rex: No one since more than twenty years. Many years ago I listened with attention to the first Black Sabbath album, with a highly significant sleeve designed by the great Keef. I liked Tony Iommi’s guitar playing, that had the positive side of being very original and the negative side of being repetitive. I also used to like Van der Graaf Generator, early Genesis, the first Gentle Giant LP, first two by King Crimson as I admired Fripp’s inspiration from french classics. I’ve never liked Eric Clapton, that I knew much before its career with Cream and that I followed up to Blind Faith: too formal and with no ideas, unlike Iron Butterfly that I saw in New York and were very good. There’s nothing good nowadays and there will be only noise tomorrow.How do you judge Doris Norton’s interest for electronic music since 1980?
Antonius Rex: This is part of her synthetic nature, of her desire to search and produce with no help from others, without a group. I like Psychic research and other albums in their being non-musical and experimental. As the so-called rock had nothing else to say it was better to experiment and to go ahead of our times rather than… I couldn’t see a future as composers, I was rather seeing a future made of effects and rhythm creating, on a strong technological basis and always more escaping from Music.And now?
Antonius Rex: Since more than ten years I love to produce noise, creative noise. Nothing to do with music: we sold six millions of singles and over 550 thousand albums of extreme Techno, with the aim to give a non-destructive sound drug to all those who are destructed by real drugs.A new album?
Antonius Rex: Every time we go to Romania, where we have a small studio in a convent, we keep composing and recording, but we don’t know if this will ever become our ninth album.Coming back to Neque semper, what’s the message contained in this album?
Antonius Rex: There are many ways to describe Neque semper… if In cauda was the beginning of a path towards an interior research and Tardo pede was an invitation to slowly walk towards magically occult worlds, Neque semper is the desire to do, putting one’s mystically inquiring super-ego on the top of a mountain and above the mortal beings. I think that Neque semper can be described as a concept coming from the dark of a black and white castle with differently lit rooms.Can you explain the contents of the six tracks?
Antonius Rex: Neque Semper Arcum, the album opener with a classical organ, it’s my condemnation of envy, a dark rhythm guitar, a lead guitar that’s mystic-dismal and at the same time heavy prog. Pactus, the story of a blood pact, in a ritual-dark atmosphere, three soloist-prog guitar in sequence, a short but nice mini-moog break. It’s the only soft dreamy track in the album, where the progressive guitars and the percussive rhythm can be only seen as Extreme Magical Love. In hoc signo vinces, piano and rhythm guitar almost resemble an impressionistic-dark movie. Lead break by mini-moog surely in advanced-fusion style. Non fiat voluntas tua, a strong condemnation that repeats the socio-ecological themes of U.F.D.E.M. Celebrating voice, hard guitar, prog harpsichord, ceremonial rhythm. Devil letter: no comment. Aquila non capit muscas, it’s my favourite track, putting an iron mask on the cowardice of the secular prophets. Typical progressive piano, dark rhythm guitar, original lead guitar break.So do you still like your performance of Neque semper?
Antonius Rex: In a creative sense we do, Neque semper represented the evolution of Doris Norton, maybe because unconsciously she wanted to demonstrate to organist Charles Tiring that she too could play very well the classical organ, that she deeply studied for three long years; she was great as well with mini-moog, and also created bass and rhythm parts. Albert respected our wishes with rhythm: tympani, bass drums, gong and some assorted percussions: the rhythm perfection is due to the use of tape loops that we forced him to use after explaining him how to work with them. For what my role in it is concerned, apart from the voice that I voluntarily used with evocative tones, I started as guitarist from Triumphatus sad [on 1969’s first album], knowing I’d have to use my guitar in an hyperbolically personal and precursive way. I still like today some of the guitar solos made with my Gibson SG.When will Neque semper be released?
Antonius Rex: Inevitably around September and October 2002. The reissue LP is totally identical to the original, with a black & white sleeve, devil letter and magical symbols on cover, in numbered issue and with left side record opening. The CD version will be very clean, much compressed and dynamic, but… without any single note alteration. We’ll wait and see how it will be received in the world 28 years later.
Rex Home Page
REX "The E-Legend"
In 1972 the same musicians (Bartoccetti vocals-guitar-bass, Norton voice-piano-synthesizer, Tiring church organ), cut the second album under the name Jacula, entitled "Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus": the album, while qualitatively valid and extremely innovative, turned out to be a commercial flop: Jacula broke up and was reborn at the same time as Antonius Rex. During his military service in 1973 Antonio Bartoccetti thought about a new group and a new album, many songs of which had already been composed by Doris Norton and him in 1971.
In 1974 the two musicians went back to London where they got to know Albert Goodman, an aristocratic practioner of the occult, wealthy owner of country estates with his own castle and indipendent Darkness record label and hobby percussionist. After ten days of intense rehearsal, the three of them, together with engineer Coldweiss, went into the Mondial Sound Studios in Milan, famous for its then state-of-the-art technology and recorded the third album (the first as Antonius Rex), entitled "Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex". Produced by Mr.Albert Goodman.... the six recorded tracks are typically dark- progressive and meticulous to the point of madness. Albert was delighted with the result and spared no expense producing the album, which was recorded in just 38 days, to which can be added another ten for the mixing carried out by the excellent engineer Coldweis.
Albert Goodman went back to London with the master tape, published a demo LP with a really strange black and white cover, including on the front magical symbols and a "diabolical" letter dated 1624. Albert Goodman was good friends with two directors of the Vertigo record label. The label thought the album was great, but they were not so sure about the cover: that cover with those symbols and that letter were just too much! They even suggested dumping the song "Devil Letter", but the group had no intention of doing that and were certainly not inclined to change a single thing.
Albert was very un happy about all of this.... Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton had a good laugh about it and accepted it as sign of magic destiny. In fact, Giulio Tasnad, the Rumanian esoteric expert, declared publicly in 1975 that, whoever listened to the song "Devil Letter", read the Letter backwards on a Friday night and put eight of the symbols featured on the LP cover on a table, would be absolutely certain to have a close encounter with the Prince Of Darkness. After this event however, Antonius Rex lost momentum, record company interest waned and the desire to record new music was missing. Even when the wealthy Jewish record company editor, Mr.Daniele, who, together with his two American partners was highly impressed with the album "Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex", wanted Antonius Rex for new albums at all costs: Antonius Rex were just interested in money.
The guiding principle for 1977 became "only money" because as Antonio Bartoccetti explained: "when you have a son, life changes and you have to start thinking about him as well". For this reason the album "Zora" (pre-recorded in a hurry in a private studio in 1975), in both its first and second editions turned out to be an uninspiring work, decidedly absurd.... songs from the second album "Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus" were included with just the edition of a few drum fills from Albert. Doris Norton played keyboards, but between one recording session and another she was breast-feeding her son, even if the progressive-piano of "Necromancer" is still fantastic. Antonio Bartoccetti played Gibson guitar live in the console, smoking and anxious to get it over and done with. He sang just two words in "Necromancer" but then got his friend Franco Mussita to sing "Zora".
Tickle continued to dish out money, some of which was used to self produce the album "Anno Demoni", which the group defined as an appropriate document of electronic-dark.... the same thing happened with the album "Ralefun", recorded in 1979 at the request of Mr.Daniel in Munich: good compositions but recorded in too much of a hurry and without much care, with a lousy sound and poor mixing (Colin Coldweis was not at the controls)..... the mixing was done without the knowledge of the group. Despite all this the album "Ralefun" enjoyed a certain success. So as not to disappoint their fans, Antonius Rex, with the money got after breaking the contract with Emanuele Daniele, went into the 24 track Zanibelli Regson (Milan) studios in May 1980 and self produced, in a completely indipendent and creative way, their last album, entitled "Praeternatural". This album was a limited edition for the Musik Research record label and the musicians sold autographed copies only to fans from all over the world, who came at periodic intervals to visit them in their Convent-Castle.
Steve Crombell (1991)
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