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(50 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. Evapzic 2:46 2. Immersion 6:52 3. Caronte's Ship Imponderability 3:46 4. Riding in Poseidonian Fields 2:27 5. Entwinings 2:12 6. Suspension 4:18 7. Octopus 6:29 8. Uncontrolled Dreams 8:53 9. No Return 6:12 10. Farewell 6:05 LINEUP: Guglielmo Mariotti - basses, guitars; vocals Gianluca De Rossi - keyboards Davide Guidone - drums
Prolusion. Since their formation back in 2000, the lineup of Italy's TAPROBAN hasn't undergone any changes, the trio stably bringing out one release every two years. "Poseidonian Fields" is their third studio CD, following "Outside Nowhere" (2004) and "Ogni Pensiero Vola" (2002), though they also have the 23-minute song, Morton, which is available on the three-disc concept album-project, "The Spaghetti Epic", involving nine bands from all over the world.
Analysis. To my great surprise, this new Taproban recording finds its makers strongly deviating from their traditional sound, and while one of their former style's two primary constituents, namely classic Art-Rock using a classic keyboard trio appears to have undergone some transformations, the other, symphonic Space Rock, is completely out of the window. This is not everything, however. Precisely half of the disc's ten tracks reveal that the group have stopped avoiding some fashionable modern tendencies, from time to time overtly flirting with Neo, one of these, Suspension, sounding wholly like an overextended intro to some of Marillion's large-scaled creations. There are only slowly droning synthesizers and dramatic vocals here, but for all that the tune exceeds four minutes in length. The last two tracks, No Return and Farewell, both at first paint nearly the same picture, and quite frankly, I would've been happier if it had remained unchanged, because the consequent content of each leaves me even in greater perplexity. If the former continues at least as a slow ballad (with a whiningly-plangent muezzin-like singing hovering over a monotonous landscape evoking nothing but the desert), the latter transforms into emptiness. Only closer to the end of Farewell the sound appears again - this time around in the form of traditional English folk music. Strange trick. The tunes that are in no way connected with each other should have been placed on two different tracks, but not on the same one, with a 2-minute pause between them on top of everything. The song directly calling up the album's title, Riding in Poseidonian Fields, is a rhythmic playful pop song built upon a primitive verse-chorus scheme. Where are you going to ride in reality, Taproban? The other six tracks run 32 minutes, and although there are no masterworks among these, all are either good or excellent compositions. The beginning of the second track, Immersion, is just a logical continuation of the theme (interplay between acoustic guitar, synthesizer and vocals) laid by its predecessor, Evapzic, whilst the song's subsequent events consist of organ- and mini-Moog-driven symphonic Art-Rock, somewhere halfway between classic ELP and the eponymous Emerson-Lake-Powell LP - which in turn is what the instrumentals, Caronte's Ship Imponderability and Entwinings, are about in their entirety. Okay, the largely instrumental Octopus and Uncontrolled Dreams, each is the same story too, but with one difference - their introductory vocal sections where in both cases is settled the spirit of another British legend, Marillion.
Conclusion. I strongly regret Taproban have released this material as it is, and not as an EP featuring only the six tracks described last. Though on the other hand, they could have supplemented these with that epic, Morton, which moreover represents their highest attainment in the field of progressive music, and then the result would've been their best effort to date. Back to the band's achievements in "Poseidonian Fields": on condition it is taken as a whole, this CD can be regarded as a merely good album at best.
VM: February 13, 2006
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