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4 stars Outside Nowhere, the second CD from Italian trio Taproban, is an enthusiastically executed set of songs on a general theme of space exploration with some of the tracks paying homage to specific Science Fiction films (2001, Bladerunner and Star Trek). This is not a staggeringly original idea, nor does the music present anything particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary, but the core trio of Gianlucca De Rossi - keyboards and vocals, Guglielmo Mariotti - bass, vocals and acoustic guitar, and Davide Guidoni - percussion are all fine musicians, as is guest Alessandro Papotto (from the superb Periferia Del Mondo) on saxophone. Also, they look for inspiration in all the right places, with ELP, Yes, Rick Wakeman, Vangelis and Rush being the main, but by no means the only, influences. The pieces are largely instrumental, but the vocals, when they do occur, are pleasant enough, particularly on Broken Shell (an acoustic ballad) and Pieces Left Behind with the merest trace of an accent failing to dampen proceedings. I still prefer it where, as on Nexus, the vocals are presented in their native Italian. From the opening Wakeman-esque synth fanfare of At The Fifteenth Orbit, through the dynamic Chris Squire-like bass which powers the album's centrepiece 19 minute suite Outside Nowhere and that same track's bolero-like opening, melodic dancing sax solo, Peart-like percussion and lush layers of keyboards, to the spooky desolation conjured by the short but effective The Deep, this album is an enjoyable ride through an ever-changing landscape of prog rock staples and tried and tested styles. That said, they never stoop to blatant plagiarism and manage to pull all their influences into a cohesive whole. Of course, like ELP and Rick Wakeman, this is keyboard-dominated music, and is most likely to appeal to fans of these and similar artists. Di Rossi is a very capable player, with a wide range of styles at his command, from gentle piano to majestic organ, enabling him to conjure up appropriate atmospheres for this evocative music. The rhythm section are also considerable better than in many similar groups, where the backing is purely workmanlike. Il Dificile Equilibrio. has a more modern, spiralling synth sound, edging towards Ozric Tentacles in places but retaining a neo IQ inspired feel, mixed with some frantic ELP organ runs. The unpronounceable fifth track is apparently a Klingon translation of "War Dance" and this is an apt title for this lively Star Trek motivated piece, laced through with vibrant percussion, making for an easily likeable track. The album closes with the Bladerunner inspired Nexus featuring lovely, mournful saxophone, treated vocals and it ends with a sweet, melancholic piano mixed with samples of the last words of Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov who died aboard the Sojuz 1. This is a reflective way to end an album whose moods are many and varied. While this is unlikely to top anyone's "best of year" lists, it is a pleasing work with much to offer the old school prog fan. It manages to steer clear of the bombastic overkill employed by Japanese proponents of similar music (Ars Nova, Gerard) and also avoids the overt metal influences that are currently in vogue with many Neo-Prog groups (Star One, Aryeon). All in all, this is an agreeable album for all fans of keyboard prog
Report this review (#32314)
Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I agree fully with my alien colleague "klingonian" ,who enjoyed this record probably more because of him being spaced out (not a bad thing ,by the way!) and the theme being of a crashing russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov in Soyuz 1 . But this is no Hawkwind clone , but really quite daringly in the trio format a la ELP, Triumvirat Ars Nova etc... This is a prog style I often find lacking as it has a tendency of becoming a showcase for a virtuoso keyboard dazzler's rather multi-level ego. When adding guitars and woodwinds or strings, the vanity is spread thinner. But to my utter surprise, this new offering by Taproban knocked me for a loop , as I did not like their debut disc all that much. But "Outside Nowhere" is another kettle of fish alltogether. Yes, GianLuca DeRossi's keys dominate the grooves with a vast array of delicious runs on organ, synth and piano, but with a less flashy demeanor , looking for substance rather than talent display. Its Guglielmo Mariotti's wicked Rickenbacker bass that steals the show here , with an exhilarating display of bass technique, at times fat and trebbly a la Squire and then propulsive in the fine tradition of Wetton, Howlett, Geelani, Kollen & Reeves. Together with the exotic drumming of Davide Guidoni , this trio positively cooks throughout this diversely interesting set of pieces. The only little caveat is the same old/new Italian Prog School habit of making records in the 40 minutes range or less (Le Orme: can you please, just once, release a 60 minute set of tunes, per favore?). Definitely the big surprise record of recent times. 4 Rickenbackers
Report this review (#32315)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#41097)
Posted Sunday, July 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a pity that the opener only lasts for seventy five seconds. It is a jewel of a symphonic intro and could have last for ever.well almost.

I'm not really into the jazzy moods but it is amazing how this band can still please me during the long and fully jazz oriented start of the title track and epic of this album. Probably because they had the great feeling to mix it with symphonic sounds. "Outside Nowhere" opens on a "Bolero" type of mood and is a strong combination with spacey and tranquil passages (Floyd), some dynamic and strong synth ("Marillion) which lasts for just over nineteen minutes of the most elegant music.

The whole sensibility of the Italian symphonic genre is held in the short and acoustic "Broken Shell". Sung in English (infortunately) it is a so sweet and melodic part that I just can be disappointed that it only last for less than two minutes.

The mood is different during "Il Difficile Equilibrio Tra Sorgenti D'Energia". A bombastic demonstration of ultra gifted keyboards play combined with a fantastic bass line. If I add that the drumming is on par, I guess that the same reference will come to your mind. "ELP" of course. How pleasant is it to be brought in this wonderful world but played by a modern band! The last section is absolutely wonderful. This time vocals are in Italian. So poignant and backed up by fantastic and symphonic keys. The best track from the album, IMO.

The band remains in the "ELP-ish territories with "Ves Ml' Tahghach" which is another great orgy of mighty synthesizers. Somewhat uniform and predictable but still enjoyable. But I used to like these early "ELP" sounds so much that I am probably biased and some other listeners might call this "regressive" prog which is a negative concept that I particularly dislike.

"Pieces Left Behind" is a melancholic track just perturbed in the middle part with a short and scary instrumental break. After a short and not so good short instrumental number "In The Deep", this CD closes on the ambient and rather convincing "Nexus". Again, the Italian vocals are excellent. I wonder why the band is trying to sing in English during some of their songs. They are so typical of the Italian symphonic music that they should just stick to their native language IMO.

Four stars for this very album.

Report this review (#157320)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Indeed dear reviewers, first track is really special. Maybe striking like lighting from clear sky, but is one of the most prog intros I've ever heard (mostly because these first tracks are here usually for setting the mood, slowly preparing listener for what will come next). And right next track is epic of this album. Well, it's epic, that explains everything.

But in these tracks, there's one thing I can't take much. Do you know Cher's electronic voice modulator I suppose, so it's used here to from time to time. It's absolutely terrible and brings this music to its knees. Maybe I'm too much old-fashioned, but this shouldn't be used this way in prog music. But OK, keyboards counterweights it. And this concept story, when you allow them to influence your mind and judgement, it really helps to feel the entire story.

4(-) for average way of doing prog in new RPI style. With some better parts.

Report this review (#248350)
Posted Friday, November 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The second album from this Italian band.

Neither this album or the other outputs from Taproban is Rock Progressivo Italiano if truth is being told. They are most definate within the Symph Prog genre. But that is splitting hairs (and in the case of the RPI team; spitting feathers) and an uneccesary debate.

Taproban's music is pretty close to Emerson, Lake & Palmer on this album. Though with a small Italian twist. I am not only referring to the Italian vocals here. But they also have a lot of Premiata Forneria Marconi in them. A blend of these two above mentioned bands and you more or less get this band. Which is both a compliment and an observation.

The music on this album is keyboards dominated. Gianlucca De Rossi's keyboards, that is. He is also the vocalist here and the vocals is great. Alessandro Papotto from Periferia Del Mondo is here as a guest saxophonist. His sax is brilliant on the main track on this album; the excellent title track. A track also dominated by lush keyboards, sax and vocals.

The rest of the tracks is also great and that makes this a great album and a great addition to anyone's collection.

Report this review (#498980)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Outside Nowhere is the second album by Roman band Taproban and was released in 2003 on the independent label Mellow Records. The line up is the same as on its predecessor, Ogni pensiero vola, and features Gianluca De Rossi (keyboards, organ, Minimoog, vocals), Guglielmo Mariotti (bass, 12-string acoustic guitar, Moog, vocals) and Davide Guidoni (drums, percussion) but here the overall sound is enhanced by the special guest Alessandro Papotto (sax - from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Periferia del Mondo) who took part to the recording sessions. If you like bands such as Le Orme, Emerson Lake & Palmer or Quatermass I'm sure you will not be disappointed by this interesting work where the music flows steadily taking you across the space. In fact, this is a concept album dedicated to the memory of Russian cosmonaut Komarov and to all the other space-flights pioneers...

The short instrumental opener "At the Fifteenth Orbit" sets the atmosphere. As you can read in the beautiful booklet, Komarov, aboard of the Soyuz 1, returned to Earth after fifteen orbits around the planet and this track tries to capture the feelings of the cosmonaut before his return trip...

The following "Outside Nowhere" is a long instrumental suite divided into six parts. The first part, "The Mission", features a dark atmosphere and a haunting marching beat that develops in a kind of strange bolero. It takes you back in time as a flashback, when everything started and the space mission was planned. The following section, "The Last Goodbye", is warmer and lightened by the sound of Alessandro Papotto's sax that evokes the strong emotions of the departure. On the third section, "The launch", you can hear the countdown while the rhythm takes off like a glider: here the music reminds me of some counterpoints by Le Orme... Next comes "Outside Nowhere", the fourth section which describes in some way the feelings that an astronaut can experience during his long flight... Komarov: oh, what a Lucky Man he was! The last two sections, "Return To..." and "...A New World", take us on the way back with new perspectives and a strong sense of hope.

"Broken Shell" is a short acoustic ballad sung in English that tells about the sense of solitude and restless inquietude that seizes the astronaut when he thinks of his ex-sweetheart... "Now my life is a broken shell / I need a place to go far away... But there's no place that is safe from you / And in spite of my strong will / You will be anywhere, forever with me...".

"Il difficile equilibrio tra sorgenti d'energia" (The difficult balance between sources of energy) is a beautiful track featuring Italian vocals that evokes infinite spheres clashing one against each other, ruled by mysterious laws that, sooner or later, will make them melt in a black void... "Long is the fighting between sources of energy / One against each other / One against each other...".

"veS ml' tagHach" (Klingon War Dance) is track full of obscure energy. It features some martial passages, some exotic touches and fiery keyboards rides. The title refers to a fictional extraterrestrial warrior species in the 1960s television series Star trek...

The following "Pieces Left Behind" reminds me of some Pink Floyd's atmospheres and features some vocal parts in English drenched with nostalgia. Feeling alone and lost in the space, our astronaut is looking forward to the return trip because he has realized that the world leaves a mark on you and you can't really escape from it... "In this place is it always day-time? / Is it always night-time? / I really don't know / World, I'm coming back...".

"In The Deep" is a short track full of tension that describes the dive of the space ship towards the Earth. The mood is dark and in some way you can feel an impending sense of tragedy in the air. It leads to the final track, "Nexus" that recalls the early works of Franco Battiato. It features some beautiful sax lines and filtered vocals in Italian... "I sent signals as I was moving between sound waves / Visualizing my dream among dark interferences...". According to the booklet the voice that you can hear in the background is really the voice of Komanov, but you can't hear the final explosion. As you probably know, the Soyuz 1 crushed on the ground...

On the whole, an interesting work with a nice art-work by Davide Guidoni that maybe describes its atmospheres and content better than all my words.

Report this review (#1154024)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

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