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Taproban - Outside Nowhere CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.74 | 55 ratings

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3 stars TAPROBAN is an accomplished, keyboard-centric Italian trio with a tight, neo-Progressive Rock sound. Synthesizers feature prominently in the music on this interesting - and well-executed - concept album about space travel.

The short first track 'At The Fifteenth Orbit' is an instrumental with monotone, buzzy synthesizer. It's a nice tune to start off the album, but nothing extraordinary. The significance of the title will become apparent from the final track on the CD.

The instrumental 19-minute second track 'Outside Nowhere' is much more interesting, taking us through the stages of a space mission. Laid-back, jazzy saxophone leads into some enjoyable synthesizer-dominated music complete with sound bite of a space launch, and then the music changes to reflect the emptiness of space, using synthesizer, bass and drums well to evoke the lonely vacuum. After the quiet of space an upbeat, buzzy synthesizer starts up with some funky bass to herald the return to Earth. The track ends with birdsong to emphasise the return. A good piece, and the 19 minutes flash past.

'Broken Shell' is a short ballad, sung in heavily accented English. It's a lovely tune, actually, and I find myself humming along to the singing and acoustic guitar.

'Il Difficile Equilibrio Tra Sorgenti d'Energia' is predominantly instrumental, but does have some singing in Italian towards the end of the track. The synthesizer is still buzzy but sounds slightly fatter on this track. The organ and bass work is particularly satisfying when the pace of the track turns frantic. The tempo and mood change several times, and I like this track a lot.

I won't even try to transcribe the title of the fifth track, as it's in Klingon! The track starts with the title spoken gutturally (is there any other way than gutturally, where Klingon is concerned?). A dark and broody synthesizer begins but then ups tempo and turns into a very Arabic sound. Finally a 'harpsichord' ends the piece. I find this a very enjoyable track.

'Pieces Left Behind' is another ballad, again sung in English. It's laden with synthesizer. A good tune and again I find myself humming along. The piece has a dark interlude with some good, tinkling organ and a brief drumbeat that sounds like a slower version of the drum riff on 'We Will Rock You' (QUEEN) but with a malevolent tone.

The instrumental 'In The Deep' again uses the synthesizer to produce some evocative space sound effects.

The final track 'Nexus' is a sad song: both the music itself (some gorgeous saxophone and synthesizer) and the sound bite over slow piano of cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov (for some reason the CD sleeve notes say 'Sergej Komarov') who died when Soyuz One crashed on its return to Earth in 1967 (the first in-flight fatality in the history of manned spaceflight). A great track, actually. Very moving.

The CD comes with a nice booklet (in English) with the usual track details, lyrics and information on the group members and their range of instruments.

Davide Guidoni's drums and other percussion are very good, but sound a little too muffled at times. Guglielmo Mariotti's basses and acoustic guitar are also noticeably very good. Guest musician Alessandro Papotto provided the soprano saxophone; I do hope he contributes on future TAPROBAN albums.

And finally, Gianluca de Rossi's keyboard playing is also very accomplished, but it is here that I have my main gripe with this album: some of the synthesizer is just too monotone buzzy for my liking (what I mean is illustrated well by the synthesizer in the first track). It just doesn't sound as good as some of the synthesizer on e.g. an early ELP or TRIUMVIRAT album. I'm not talking so much about the playing of the instrument, but about the sound of it. I would have preferred less buzz and more variety to the main synthesizer line in some of the tracks. In my (inexpert) opinion, this excellent keyboard player needs to do some more experimentation with his baseline synthesizer sound and perhaps also look at some other models (he can keep the minimoog, though!). That said, he has used synthesizers to very good effect in many places throughout the album: some of the fatter synthesizer, spacey synthesizer and sound effects are very evocative and really enhance the theme of the album. But I definitely don't enjoy some of the buzzy, tinny-sounding monotone synthesizer, which knocks down my overall rating of this album. The music writing is very good (I would say 4-star), the musicianship also high (again 4-star) and the concept itself and execution is excellent.

This is a very good CD but I can't bring myself to rate it at 4 stars because of my comment above on the baseline synthesizer, so I'll settle for 3 stars (Good but not essential). Nevertheless, if you are a fan of neo-Progressive Rock and enjoy music that uses a lot of synthesizer then I suspect that you will like this album a lot (note, fans of IQ, RICK WAKEMAN and the like). Definitely worth checking out.

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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