Sunday, January 10, 2016

Antares - 1979 - Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility

01. The Leaving (5:25)
02. My Girl Friend (6:10)
03. Apollo 11 (3:35)
04. Galaxy (3:34)
05. Running On The Meteors (4:56)
06. The Return (3:57)

- Marco Tessitore / keyboards, vocals
- Joseph Kali / guitars
- Ennio Barone / bass, vocals
- Lorenz Shulze / drums, effects, guitars

Well, here's a nice little Italian prog mystery. Who were Antares? What is the story behind the Antonius Rex involvement? Note the similarities in the names of the groups. It was released on a label which Rex's Bartoccetti used to release his Invisible Force single years earlier. The overuse of silly sound effects on certain parts sounds suspiciously like the Rex motif during their albums of this period. Bartoccetti is credited as a co-writer of two tracks, but there's one little tidbit I didn't see mentioned. Listen to "The Leaving" on this Antares album, then listen to Antonius Rex's "Soul Satan" from their album "Anno Demoni." I think it's the same basic track re-recorded! (And this wasn't one of the ones he was credited for, which is strange) It also sounds like the same dude singing on both versions, but this can't be. I can't remember who was credited with the vocal on "Soul Satan" but I wonder if it wasn't one of the guys from Raminghi who were working with Rex at the time. Perhaps someday someone will piece together the mystery of Antares. (Both songs mentioned can be heard on YouTube if you want a chuckle.)

Mysteries aside, Antares is actually pretty damn good except for the first song which is a somewhat dreadful attempt at commercial single. Don't let it stop you from the rest of the album which is much better. Just skip over track one. After that, "Sea of Tranquility", named after the Apollo moon landing location, improves drastically into a nice, spacey late 70s ride. Think of a cross between Rex's "Ralefun" album and an Eloy album. Easy melodies and soothing electronic space-scapes mingle with lovely acoustic and electric guitar solos. It's nothing heavy, complex, or original, but it is very pleasant stuff. The product description writers at Kinesis summed it up like this:

"After a dodgy first track with accented English vocals, it settles into mostly instrumental symphonic progressive with a spacey, Floydian feel. Rather than the Hammond and Mellotron favored by earlier progressive bands, Antares' keyboardist used Roland and Korg synths of that era, favoring more electronic (and cheesy) sounds." -Kinesis

"My Girlfriend" begins with a spoken recitation (AB?) and then becomes this lovely acoustic/electric guitar solo backed by keyboards. The piece has the same unspoken sad longing that runs through so many Rex tracks, and it feels quite related to Ralefun of the same era. I suspect this track may be Bartoccetti's other compositional offering though I'm not sure of that. Nice music though. "Apollo 11" is a lovely piano solo with trippy electronics atop. "Galaxy" is pleasant light rock with spacey synths. "Running on the Meteors" has another Nick Mason-ish drum feel loaded with tasty melodic keyboard runs. "The Return" has an almost disco beat with a light fusion rhythm and some cool guitar and keys soloing as it brings things to a close.

"Sea of Tranquility" is just one of those late 70s obscurities which very few people will ever hear, but if you like gentle spacey atmospheres with melodic guitar leads, you will find some enjoyment. Just skip the first track!

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