Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Alpha Ralpha - 1977 - Alpha Ralpha

Alpha Ralpha
Alpha Ralpha

01. Synergie (0:00)
02. Nova (3:58)
03. Syrtis Major (9:38)
04. Genese (11:56)
05. Rez (19:56)
06. Gothic (23:32)
07. Magellan (24:07)
08. Lagune Ouest (31:24)
09. Hymn (35:02)

Claude Alvarez-Pereyre - 6 & 12 string guitars, classical & electric guitars, acoustic & electric violin, organ, marimba, vibraphone
Michel Mareska - electric guitar
Charlie Charriras - bass
Jean Alain Gardet - acoustic & electric pianos, organ, synthesizers
Emmanuel Lacordaire - drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba

Claude Samard - pedal steel guitar on (2), electric guitar on (4)
François Bréant - Arp Odyssey on (2,5,7), acoustic piano on (7) (Cruciferius, Nemo, Ergo Sum)
Jean de Antony - electric guitar on (5,7), acoustic guitar on (7)
Jean-Jacques Goldman - voice on (7), harmony vocals (Thai Phong)
Georges Granier - harmony vocals
Khan Mai - harmony vocals
Tai Sinh - harmony vocals

Recorded at Studio IP between May & September 1976.

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.

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.

1 comment:

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