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5 stars Taproban is an italian Progressive Rock Trio formed by GIANLUCA DE ROSSI on Keyboards, ROBERTO VITELLI on Bass, Guitars and Bass Pedals Synthesizer and FRANCESCO PANDICO on Drums and percussions. The new line-up aim from 2012 was to close up the four elements tetralogy, that started in 2002 with the album "Ogni pensiero vola" , inspired to the Bosco di Bomarzo carved-in-stone statues (Earth), and continued with "Outside Nowhere" in 2004, this time dedicated to space explorations (Air), and "Posidonian Fields" in 2006, inspired to the ocean abyss as a metaphor of human subconscious (Water). The elements tetralogy had to close up with the fourth element of Fire, this time associated with the female figure. The new album, in fact, is titled STRIGMA, from the two latin words strix (witch) and stigma (brand) "The brand of the Witch". Throughout Strigma tracks you can find something misterious, sinister and arcane, growing to get the fascinating trademark of the whole album. There are many heavy passages as well, leaded by De Rossi's exuberants sonates and Vitelli's powerful strings. The three tracks are long-lenghted, as in the best tradition of Progressive Rock, neverthless I think is reductive to catalogue Strigma as a pure Progressive Rock album, because if the presence of the Progressive sound of the '70 (ELP, Genesis, Jethro Tull) is undoubted, there is also a more personal taste, featuring many others references, that reveals the band members' musical culture. The second track "Lo sguardo di Emily" is particularly remarkable, with all its exciting variations, where De Rossi shows all his unfailing virtuosity, not pretentious, that raises the listener to the higher top of aestetic enjoyment and then brings back him to a more earthly dimension. Finally I think Strigma is the fully mature Taproban album, and if you love Progressive Rock, and not only, you can't miss it!
Report this review (#1104812)
Posted Wednesday, January 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars In every Strigma long tracks you can find a recurring theme, an involving and exciting rhythm that captures the listener's attention, carrying away him in a musical whirl. The fiBloodyack of the album, "Nesia al notturno congresso delle Streghe", alternates fast and interesting rhythms to slower and mysterious moments, a very thrilling and pleasant track, never boring or repetitive but ever fickle and amazing. Is particularly Gianluca De Rossi' synth solo to be astonishing, he well shows all his cleverness and experience on keyboards instruments. In the second track, "Lo sguardo di Emily", you can find the same mysterious mood, but with a little bit of sadness. In every single moment, we can feel on our skin the music development, a frantic and charming tune, that remains in your memory even after listening. In the third and last track, "La porta sul buio", the most melancholy, frightful and intriguing of the album, the music makes you feel as you're in a suspended state of danger. A full of shades track, that brings you in a world apart, in that dark room, without any escape, until the last note... Absolutely recommended to every progressive aficionados, but perfect for everyone who wants to listen something different.


Report this review (#1131938)
Posted Saturday, February 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Taproban's (MK IV) fourth effort quite represents an authoritative example of what should be the real 'Dark Progressive'. The Three tracks, "Nesia Al Notturno Congresso Delle Streghe", "Lo Sguardo Di Emily" e "La Porta Nel Buio", are three long suites packed with magic atmospheres and full of excellent technical performances. The dosage of dynamics is really appropriate, featuring well-balanced passages from piano to fortissimo, as well as the use of odd rhythms reflects an attentive strategy of composition. It's possible to perceive a quite personal musical style, even if there are many references to some colossus of the genre like King Crimson, Goblin, Yes, Step Ahead, even Magma on their "Stravinskyian" side; you can even find an homage to Police in "Lo Sguardo Di Emily". The three performers are, obviously, excellent: Gianluca De Rossi, leader and keyboards wizard, Roberto Vitelli, bassist and guitarist gifted with a great taste and refinement, last but not least l'enfant prodige Francesco Pandico, with his precise and refined drumming. A very recommended listening for all its 42 minutes and 48 seconds, you will not easily forget it!!! Mal9000
Report this review (#1162711)
Posted Friday, April 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1179060)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars From the first and best track of this release "Nesia al notturno congresso delle streghe", we are in known territory of the great big bands of Progressive Rock. After some hunting keyboard lines in the atmosphere and sound of Anglagard, we go in a almost copy of a passage from Genesis "Cinema Sow". The band plays some long instrumental sections with multiple breaks going from heavy to soft moments. The second song "Lo sguardo di Emily" is more in the tradition of the Italian bands from the past. Despite this numerous movements in the 3 songs, the melody flows naturally with all his beautiful tones that will seduce all the keyboards lovers. Overall, the sound is reminiscent of ELP and Ars Nova. This is 40 minutes of excellence, not a single boring moment, let's take that trip back to the 70's with that bass pedals sound and those nice melodies.
Report this review (#1279980)
Posted Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Taproban are an Italian band founded in 1996. They've had line-up changes since then but the main member has always been keyboardist Gianluca De Rossi. This is their latest album and the only one I have heard so far. Generally the music of Taproban falls into the 'retro prog' camp, but with a strong RPI influence obviously. Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer seem to be the main influences. The production on the other hand is more modern and clean sounding. Lots of '70s era instrumentation and gear used. In case you're wondering...the album cover has been slightly altered for PA.

"Nesia al notturno congresso delle streghe" opens the album with some chorused guitar which actually sounds more late '70s/early '80s than anything from the 'golden age' of prog. Then it gets more early-mid-'70s sounding including an odd-metered riff which reminds me of some of the darker RPI stuff. This is immediately followed by a part in complete contrast to it - with lovely flute and more chorused guitar. Almost halfway through there is some keyboards(?) which sound like mallet percussion. After 7 minutes goes into a part that sounds like early Genesis (sounds similar to a passage in 'Cinema Show' I think). After that part the music goes into moody RPI territory. You hear some phased bass and then the music changes to a mix of ELP and RPI.

The second of three tracks is "Lo sguardo di Emily" (which you can listen to on PA). This is generally a mix of RPI and Genesis. Nice bass and synth tones in this track. A little bit of Crimsonian violin at one point. Out of nowhere comes a really good reggae part...totally unexpected but it works. Ends on a very Genesis-y note although the synth and organ playing sounds more Italian. Having never heard the band's previous albums, I'm not sure how much vocals are on them. Strigma is about 95% instrumental; there is only a bit of vocals on the last track "La porta sul buio" The final almost 19-minute epic is both the most interesting track on the album and the least overtly 'retro' sounding.

Apart from the little bit of vocals from Gianluca (in Italian), this piece starts off fairly easy- going but the pace picks up after 2 minutes with some good organ soloing. Around 4 1/2 minutes is a great part with some mallet percussion, repetitive piano stabs and some interesting drumming. Nice synth playing in the middle. Later pipe organ and some vocals. Overall, a good release. Should appeal to many symph and RPI fans. I will give this a 3.5 but bump it up to 4 stars.

Report this review (#1311242)
Posted Monday, November 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 2007 both Davide Guidoni and Guglielmo Mariotti left Taproban, the first went on to form Daal with Alfio Costa, the second joined The Watch as a bassist and both helped Walter Pini to reincarnate Nuova Era.Gianluca di Rossi found again himself alone in the line-up, he paused the activities of the band for a couple of years to collaborate with legendary drummer Carlo Bordini on two tracks, recorded for the Dante-related series of Musea.In 2011 Di Rossi recruited young drummer Francesco Pandico and bassist/guitarist Roberto Vitelli to reform Taproban and in early 2012 the trio was again on stage, while they started composing material for a new album.French label Musea signed the band and Taproban returned in 2013 with the fourth studio album ''Strigma''.

The album is only about 40 minutes long, but contains three long progressive suites in the typical Taproban style, which see the band turning to a more dark and haunting sound, as proposed by the 15-min. opener ''Nesia al notturno congresso delle streghe''.While there are certain moments, when the group still simulates the dreamy synth lines of GENESIS and the powerful keyboard symphonicism of NUOVA ERA, its majority follows a fairly sinister keyboard-driven sound with choirs, quirky Hammond organ and slow, psychedelic themes with a bit of electric tunes, which remind me of IL BALLETO DI BRONZO.As expected, this one passes through various climates and tempos and contains heavy Classical/symphonic orientations, which are still displayed in the 9-min. follower ''Lo sguardo di Emily''.This one comes as a logical step following the opening sound, introducing the echoes of the harsichord, offering multiple piano interludes in an approach towards Classical-drenched music, featuring some nice flute and strings throughout and eventually being highlighted by a grand finale on church organ and synths with the most dramatic mood of the whole album, much in the vein of old NUOVA ERA.''La porta nel buio'' is an almost 19-min.closer with the band still sinking into haunting and virtuosic keyboard Prog with several LE ORME, IL BALLETO DI BRONZO and LATTE E MIELE comparisons.Lots of E.L.P.-ish virtuosic Hammond organ parts and neurotic synthesizers, melancholic piano variations, but also some excellent guitar/organ melodic duets, which still hold an odd, almost Gothic atmosphere.Another very good composition, propably the most intense on the album and the only one to feature some nice, expressive Italian vocals.

IL BALLETO DI BRONZO are still alive...but this time they are named Taproban.The darkest work of the band with an impresive keyboard palette and flexible moods in a nostalgic trip through the world of Italian SymphoRock.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1321020)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Strigma is the fourth studio album by the Roman band Taproban. It was released in 2013 on the French label Musea Records with a renewed line up featuring, along with founder member and main composer Gianluca De Rossi (keyboards, flute, vocals), a brand new rhythm section formed by Roberto Vitelli (bass, electric guitar, synthesizer) and Francesco Pandico (drums, percussion) who replaced Guglielmo Mariotti and Davide Guidoni. According to the band, the title is a crasis that blends two Latin words: strix (witch) and stigma (brand). It was inspired by the idea of the element of fire associated with women and in some way this concept was developed through music, images and words. The album is almost completely instrumental but the beautiful art cover by Daniela Ventrone and the art work by Gianluca De Rossi that you can find in the booklet can give you a clue of what the music is about. Well, the overall sound could recall bands such as Le Orme, Goblin or Banco del Mutuo Soccorso but the band showcase great personality and freshness blending vintage sounds and original ideas...

The long, complex opener "Nesia al notturno congresso delle streghe" (Nesia at the night meeting of the witches) alternates calm, dreamy passages to fiery sections where obscure energies and warm colours take you in the whirls of the infernal dance portrayed by the painting on the cover, entitled "La Danza delle fiamme" (Dance of the flames). There are no lyrics but in the booklet you can find a drawing that describes this track with a mysterious blackbird perched on the branch of a spectral tree and below some words in Latin: concurrentia ad maleficia nefandissima in genus humanum opera venefica... Welcome to the Sabbath! Anyway, do not expect black metal growls or frenzied heavy riffs, here the music goes through many changes in atmosphere and rhythm but never leaves its oneiric, almost poetical dimension and there's more mysticism than violence or luxury in this esoteric dance.

Next comes the instrumental "Lo sguardo di Emily" (Emily's glance) that starts with a sudden surge of energy. The band chose an image of Cupid's bow to describe this piece. In classical mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. His bow and arrow represent his source of power and everyone who is shot by Cupid's arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire. So you can guess that Emily is a woman burning with love and longing for a romantic waltz, her glances are like flames trying to melt the cold desert of a meaningless life... Let the music drive and let Emily's eyes draw you away for a little while!

The last track is a nearly 19 minute epic, "La porta nel buio" (The door in the dark). It's a wonderful suite divided into six parts with many changes in rhythm and atmosphere where you can listen to some fantastic keyboard passages. It starts softly, you can hear the noise of a door creaking on its hinges, the atmosphere is almost hypnotic. There's a door in the dark, but what kind of door? Are you dreaming? There's something that you can't understand... The rhythm rises, the mood is disquieting, tense. You're scared and you try to run away at breakneck speed, down the stairs... But you get lost, you're still in the dark... Will you ever see the light again? You're desperately looking for a way out that you can't find, you're freezing inside and you don't know why, you can't see where you are. Is it nightmare or reality? You're alone and Gianluca De Rossi evocative vocals lead you into the fortress of the solitude, amid rag men and broken dolls... Will you ever leave it? The last part of the suite suggests that there's a way to escape and that you can break through... A great track! Although Le Orme influence looms large over this piece of great spiritual and musical grace, this it is not a recreation of the past and the songwriting is absolutely brilliant...

On the whole, I really like this work. If you like modern progressive rock that's based on classic prog, you really have to check this album out!

Report this review (#1416168)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2015 | Review Permalink

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