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Taproban - Strigma CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.99 | 114 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars With an instantly striking erotic front cover painting depicting women dancing amongst infernal flames, and a title that translates to `The Brand of the Witch', the fourth album `Strigma', by RPI band Taproban, is a grand symphonic classical gothic opera. It's a keyboard-dominated, predominently instrumental work cloaked in glorious Mellotron and vintage synths, and anyone who likes the majesty of vintage era Genesis, the darker Italian works by bands such as Goblin and Three Monks (but never in the overwhelming pitch-black manner of the Antonio Bartoccetti projects Jacula and Antonius Rex), the symphonic keyboard onslaught of E.L.P and Ars Nova, as well as the intensity of modern Swedish acts such as Anglagard and the Par Lindh Project will relish this exquisite album.

The album is comprised of three long suites, opening with the fifteen minute `Nesia al Notturno Congresso delle Streghe'. After a gently creeping piano introduction, the piece growls to life with heavy snarling guitars and violent choir Mellotron. A 'Tron flute offers a soothing, darkly romantic respite, spiralling Moogs and jangling guitars bring a Genesis/Marillion call-to-arms pursuit, and when the Goblin-like 'Tron choir bursts into chorus near the finale, you'll truly believe that a Mellotron can sing. `Lo Sguardo di Emily' is full of dazzling mystery, incorporating little traces of marching `Suppers Ready'/Genesis drama and eerie Goblin-esque chilliness to bring an air of gothic pantomime. Stark and gloomy piano turns victorious and defiant in the final minutes, low-key flute, searing violin, pulsing bass, whirring spacy Moogs, bristling Hammond and booming church organ complete a rich musical tapestry.

The almost 19-minute closer `La Porta nel Buio' (The Door in the Dark) is the most sinister piece on the disc. It perfectly captures the written passage and illustration provided in the CD booklet, conveying a maddening sense of isolation, loneliness, fear and anxiety. Parts of the track have the same hair-pulling intensity of the `Dun - Eros' album, overloaded with thrashing time-signatures. Gianluca De Rossi's army of synths and piano have a stalking quality, and there's an almost gleeful malevolence once the vibraphone starts racing around like little demons chasing you with hatchets! Francesco Pandico's drumming is relentless, Roberto Vitelli's bass lurks in the background like a serpent waiting for it's moment to strike and withdraw back to the shadows. Gianluca also delivers a brief stirring and passionate vocal, and the piano section that follows has a heart-breaking fragility that offers some light in the gloom. But it's only a tease, before we're back to slaughtering manical church organ, a battery of drums and ghostly Mellotron choirs. The almost uplifting outro melody perhaps suggests a way out...?

I can personally listen to this sort of instrumental progressive music over and over, the kind I absolutely adore, and this is almost as special to me as other modern Italian instrumental works such as Armonite's `Inuit' and Progenessi's `Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero'. `Strigma' is a triumph for lovers of the usual Italian sophistication, with complex arrangements and consumate playing, wrapped in an intoxicating darker mood that's perfect for night-time listening.

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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