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Taproban - Per Aspera Ad Astra CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.80 | 95 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Here's a good example of retro- and keyboard-oriented progressive rock made in Italy today. The only feature that is slightly less typical for the vital R.P.I. scene is that the vocals are in a very minor role. There are some lyrics in Italian (except for the English- language 'Octopus!' in the end). Taproban is an ELP-kind of trio of keyboardist, bassist-guitarist and drummer, but the keyboardist and composer Gianluca De Rossi handles the sparse vocals. The frontman is even responsible (together with Paolo Carnelli) of the Baroque-like cover art. Which is pretty gorgeous!

On the 15-minute instrumental opener 'Outside Nowhere', the Genesis/Yes -influenced symphonic sound and compositional structure are introduced at full steam. The time signature changes and bombastic keyboard solos follow each other in a grandiose way. Minimoog, Hammond C3, Mellotron, Prophet 5, Roland JX8P and other vintage equipment make a long list below De Rossi's name. There's nothing that wouldn't be heard myriads of times since the seventies and the new rise of symphonic prog with bands such as Kaipa or The Flower Kings, but so what, if you enjoy that kind of stuff. The epic is followed by a brief instrumental and another lengthy track with a brief vocal section. The symphonic vitality is being kept at high level so that the listener hardly pays any attention on the changing of tracks at this point.

Very oddly titled (at least for me and others who have never-ever watched Star Trek!) 'veS ml'taHghach (A Klingon War Dance)' begins in an irritating manner with an angry spoken line and proceeds as a tiring rollercoaster-ride of fast and intense playing, as if there had been a goal of loading as much as possible in under five minutes. To me, it gets impressive only after the most complex intensity has given way to the majestic keyboard-oriented finale, ending with a harpsichord vignette.

The latter half of the album is more uneven and less symphonic. The slow 'Nexus' contains some vocals in Italian, plus in the end, the last words of the Russian cosmonaut crushed into the ground in 1967. "This record is dedicated to him and all the other heroes of space explorations", like the latin phrase as the album title suggests. 'Nexus' also features tenor saxophone, which underlines its 80's-reminding cheesy gloominess.

Android-themed instrumental 'D.IA.N.A.' is the weak link of the album, just B-class electronic music with a steady rhythm. Well, 'Agata Lost in the Mirror Whale' isn't much better, as a composition only a little of progressive nature. Two- minute 'Entwinings' is a pretty simple piano/Mellotron duet with some oceanic effects. It changes seamlessly into 'Octopus!' that returns to the more bombastic and complex prog style. My overall rating is 3 stars. I round it upwards mainly for the great cover art, but I've heard better prog albums from Italy this year.

Matti | 4/5 |


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