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Ruphus - 1974 - "Ranshart"

(33:34; Karisma Records [2019 Edition] )


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Love Is My Light 6:13
2. Easy Lovers, Heavy Moaners 4:40
3. Fallen Wonders 5:52
4. Pictures of a Day 8:31
5. Back Side 8:18


Rune Ostdahl - vocals
Kjell Larsen - guitars
Haakon Graf - keyboards
Asle Nilsen - bass, flute
Thor Bendiksen - drums

Prolusion. Norwegian band RUPHUS was formed back in 1972, and first appeared with the rather charming and impressive debut album "New Born Day" the following year. Working at a fairly high speed, their second album "Ranshart" appeared in 1974, just one year after their debut album.

Analysis. A lot can happen in just one year, and Ruphus documents this quite firmly with their second band. Their line-up had been given an extensive makeover at this point, and the music they explored in their new guise had taken a step or three away from the material of their debut album as well. On this occasion, Ruphus fully embraced the charms of the symphonic progressive rock that was so popular at this specific time, possibly borrowing some ideas, sounds and atmospheres from the giants of the genre while at it. We now have a lead vocalist with a high-pitched, melodic voice and a mode of delivery not light-years away from the likes of Jon Andersen, backed up with layered vocal harmonies that results in some truly vintage and era specific excursions in the vocals department. This, among other reasons, possibly why I see a band such as Yes name-dropped when reading up on this album. The music itself also borrows a bit from there and other places, focusing on light toned, positive and uplifting atmospheres with vocals and keyboards alternating in being given the dominant positions, with liberal amounts of time typical keyboards and organ given a lot of room to shine. The flute gets a few good airings as well, and the Mellotron is used to good effect as a mood provider throughout too. Ruphus excel in gliding from soft and gentle arrangements to passages with a more fleshed out, layered and impact-oriented touch to it, with the chorus passages in particular with a tendency to hit in on more majestic territories. Otherwise the keyboards, guitar and organ alternate between being the lead and support instruments, occasionally building sonic tapestries with a stronger interwoven presence at hand too. The amounts of instrument details of a more expressive nature isn't perhaps as prevalent as one might hope for, but especially on concluding composition 'Back Side' we are treated to a few such passages to enjoy as well. All nicely executed, and now in 2019 the album has been given a quality remaster job courtesy of Jacob Holm-Lupo enhancing the album experience to boot. The end result isn't quite up there in the big league however. It is very much a time typical creation, very much a part of the era in which it was created, but there's not all that much that plays out that has the staying power nor manages to make a substantial impact for me. A pleasant encounter nonetheless, but not the more superior creation the band's debut album might have been regarded as heralding.

Conclusion. Those who fancy symphonic progressive rock that literally is vintage and time typical should find plenty to enjoy on Ruphus' second album "Ranshart". Liberal amounts of keyboard layers, a more subtle guitar presence and liberal amounts of vocal harmonies combined with lead vocals, flute and Mellotron should come across as very much familiar elements indeed, and while perhaps not a stellar classic this is a good album in general and one that should please the tastes of an audience as specified very well indeed.

Progmessor: December 2019
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Ruphus Karisma Records


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