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Taproban - Per Aspera Ad Astra CD (album) cover

PER ASPERA AD ASTRA

Taproban

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars This is the 5th studio album for the band but they also did some works for various themes albums (Colossus Project) with long songs. The music is led by keyboards in the symphonic style, sometimes a little bombastic not too far from ELP and Nuovo Era. The guitars on this latest are letting the space to the keys, bass, and drums who are high in the mix. The album starts strongly in the first half with some impressive keyboards and bass lines, the band doesn't need many vocals that are actually very brief throughout. The second part of the album gets a little weaker, especially the song "D.I.A.N.A." with a cheap techno sound and a poor melody. The things improve with the next track " Agata Lost in the Mirror Whale" where the guitar for the first time gets out of his shell to take the lead. The last song"Octopus" bring back the greatness of the first half with some complex keyboards lines. This another good release for this band. Those who enjoy 70's music will want to get their hand on this.
Report this review (#1687505)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now established in the Roman musical environments and with a growing audience, Taproban shows a greater maturity with their latest effort: PER ASPERA AD ASTRA. Although the leader Gianluca De Rossi and the other musicians recall Emerson Lake & Palmer, maneuvering well between the atmospheres of Genesis and the rhythms of Jethro Tull, interesting and personal suggestions not fail. Remarkable is the revised version of "Outside Nowhere", compelling and engaging. Track n. 5, titled "Nexus", where Antonio Marangolo's melancholy saxophone appears, a pleasant novelty, perfectly harmonized with Roberto Vitelli's guitar and Gianluca De Rossi's keyboards, who also shows off a more melodic and confident voice, is remarkable. Track 6 and 7, respectively entitled "D.I.A.N.A". and "Agata Lost in the Mirror Whale", are very interesting. In particular, the opening of the latter seems to remind the heyday of P.F.M., and seems to underline the difficulty of framing in too rigid patterns the musical style of the band. Not by chance in "Entwinings", De Rossi's piano solo somehow serves as a prologue to the last track "Octopus", and looks like a mixture between Roger Hodgson and Tony Banks. The last track is a great combination of feverish bass lines, coloured electronic effects, keyboards that seem to play on the water's edge, going to the beat of a rousing waves, and percussions that follow and adequately support the time signature lead by De Rossi. Thanks to Taproban we can say that there is still good music, as these musicians formed themeselves in the right "school" of the timeless, unique and unrepeatable progressive era of the 70s. 5 Stars!
Report this review (#1696177)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Listening to the the new Taproban album PER ASPERA AD ASTRA, it seems as if you began a journey into an inner world, where opposing rhytms alternate themselves, as in the tumultuous life of a metropolis of the future. In the lyrics you can find the same human conflict you feel in the music, as well as the beautiful cover image, the "Sunset On The Sea " by Daniela Ventrone, best expresses the concept of modern man's discomfort, with which, however, he has learned to live with. I believe, in fact, that the common thread connecting the 9 tracks, although expressed in each of them differently, as in a colourful musical allegory, it is precisely the theme of uman contrasts. It's worthwhile to note the great sax intro to "Nexus", by the guest star Antonio Marangolo, and the rhythmic changes of the multiform and sprawling "Octopus".
Report this review (#1702520)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Review Permalink
Matti
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.

Report this review (#1822430)
Posted Monday, November 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I don't know what it is about many Italian progressive rock bands, but they can make it seem as if the Seventies have never gone away. And with their fifth studio album, Taproban are again producing something that makes an old progger like me just smile from the start to the end. The Mellotrons and classic keyboard sounds are there in abundance, and one can just imagine Rick there with his long blond hair and cape just joining in the fun for the hell of it. The keyboards are deliberately high in the mix, but this is very much a band album, operating in an ELP-style format (although keyboard player Gianluca De Rossi is actually the singer here). There are times when the keyboards do take a back step to allow bassist/guitarist Roberto Vitelli his time in the spotlight, while drummer Ares Andreoni is always kept high in the mix.

But, the star and centre stage will always be Gianluca, and the reason that there aren't many vocals on the album is that there simply isn't any need. For the most part this is classic Italian keyboard drive progressive rock that sees no reason at all to move past 1977, and is going to stay in that mid-Seventies period thank you very much (although there are some keyboard runs that are more early Mark Kelly than Keith Ermeson). I find it hard to comprehend that this is the first time I have come across these guys, which just goes to show just how much music there is out there at the moment. If like me this is a name that you haven't come across before, then if you enjoy classic keyboard progressive rock then this is one you should discover.

Report this review (#1887262)
Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Per Aspera ad Astra", the fifth studio album by Taproban, was released in 2017 on Musea Records with a renewed line up featuring Gianluca De Rossi (piano, organ, Minimoog, Mellotron), Roberto Vitelli (bass, guitars) and Ares Andreoni (drums) plus a couple of guest musicians such as former Taproban's member Francesco Pandico (drums, percussion) and Antonio Marangolo (sax). It contains some reworked tracks from two previous album ("Outside Nowhere" and "Posidonian Fields") and only three new pieces. According to the liner notes, the album is dedicated to the heroes of space explorations like its 2004 predecessor, "Outside Nowhere", of which it is practically a new version with some substantial cuts and additions. The title of this work, in Latin, means "through difficulties to the stars" and the art cover, taken from a tableaux by Daniela Ventrone entitled "Tramonto sul mare" (Sundown on the sea), reflects the subject matter depicting in vivid colours the mythological flight of Apollo's chariot upon a raging sea...

The opener is the title track of the 2004 album, "Outside Nowhere", a long and complex instrumental suite that describes a mission in space, from the launch to the come back in a new world. Here the piece is slightly shortened (the section named "The Last Goodbye", featuring Alex Papotto's sax solo, was cut out) and reinterpreted by the new line up with energy and passion: "in seconds they shot through veils of crimson and pink and gold and blue into the piercing white of day"... (quote from A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke). Even if the sequence of the different sections is slightly changed, in my opinion the final the result is as good as the original version.

The first (relatively) new track is the short "Fragments Of Life", a reinterpretation in a softer key of the first section of the aforementioned suite, "At The Fifteenth Orbit". It is followed by three other tracks from Outside Nowhere: "Il difficile equilibrio tra sorgenti di energia" (The difficult balance between energy sources), where music and lyrics describe an endless conflict between spheres attracting and repelling each other until they'll melt into the void, then the powerful, aggressive "veS ml' taHghach (A Klingon War Dance)" with reference to the species of swarthy, ruthless humanoids in the science fiction series Star Trek and finally the reflective, melancholic "Nexus" where, after the beautiful sax solo and the heartfelt vocals by Gianluca de Rossi, you can hear in the background the last words of Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov before crushing to the ground on April 24, 1967, after nineteen orbits around the Earth. The new versions are all convincing and perfectly match together.

Then it's the turn of two new instrumental tracks. The first is "D.I.A.N.A." (Domotic Interface Artificial Neurological Android) that every now and again could recall The Alan Parsons Project and maintain a sci-fi atmosphere as suggested by the title that refers to home automation. The second is the beautiful "Agata Lost In The Mirror Whale" with its sumptuous display of keyboard virtuosity.

The last two tracks are both taken from 2006 album Posidonian Fields. "Entwinings" and "Octopus!" have been reworked and linked together to form something new and even the lyrics are different from the original version. Here music and lyrics describe the meeting with the marine creature from a very personal point of view... "You know an octopus is smarter than a dog, and would probably make a much better pet. It's a wonderful, clever, very emotional creature, an octopus. Only we never think of them that way"... (just a short quote from the novel Sphere by Michael Crichton to give an idea of the content of the piece!).

On the whole, I think this album could be an excellent addition to a prog collection: nice packaging, great music... even if you already own Taproban's previous works I'm sure it won't be a waste of money!

Report this review (#2456110)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | Review Permalink

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