Switch On Dark by Antonius Rex on Apple Music

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About Antonius Rex

Italian prog band Antonius Rex developed out of the early 1970s meanderings of vocalist/guitarist Antonio Bartoccetti and vocalist/violinist Doris Norton (aka Fiamma Dallo Spirito.

They helmed no less than three near-simultaneous bands during this period: Jacula, the Invisible Force and Dietro Noi Deserto, each a variation on the group of floating musicians with whom the pair most frequently worked.

Antonius Rex came together in 1974 around Bartoccetti, Tiring and drummer Albert Goodman.

Linking with the Vertigo label, the trio recorded their first album, Neque semper arcum tendit rex, that same year.

However, the label balked at the diabolical extremes that marked the album's content and artwork - Bartoccetti's lyrics had long been distinctly fascinated by the occult, but this latest offering was apparently a step too far.

Vertigo withdrew and Antonius Rex prepared instead to issue the album on Goodman's own Darkness label.

However, while promos were pressed, the album remained unreleased.

It was 1977 before Antonius Rex stirred once again.

Reworking two tracks from Jacula's Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus 1972 debut album, and both sides of Invisible Force's "Morti Vident" 1971 single, the four song Zora was portentously subtitled "an observation by Antonius Rex, and maintained Bartoccetti's occult musings, merged with a distinctly Bach-influenced line in organ music.

Among the album's other attractions are contributions from I Raminghi mainstays Franco Mussita and Angelo "India" Serighelli.

The following year, with Goodman having been replaced by Jean-Luc Jabouille, Bartoccetti and Norton expanded the band with bassist Marco Ratti and flautist Ugo Heredia and began work on their sophomore set, Ralefun (an anagram of the English word "funeral").

Again they revisited Jacula's debut album in search of material, but the resultant set was considerably more varied than its predecessor, even spinning off a 45, offering alternate versions of the tracks "Agonia per un amore" and "Witch Dance".

Both releases promised great things; Bartoccetti, however, had no intention of delivering them.

A third Antonius Rex album, 1979's wryly titled Anno Demoni, was issued as a limited edition of just 499 copies, each signed by Bartoccetti; the band's final release was 1980's Praeternatural.

Bartoccettidisbanded the group soon after, but has retained the Antonius Rex title for both his own website and for a career-spanning compilation, 2002's Verba Non Volant.

In addition, he has overseen reissues of all four Antonius Rex albums. ~ Dave Thompson

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