zondag 21 november 2010

Alphataurus - 1973 - Alphataurus


01. Le chamadere(Peccato d´orgoglio) (12:18)
02. Dopo L´uragano (4:48)
03. Croma (3:14)
04. La mente vola (9:21)
05. Ombra Muta (9:48)

- Michele Bavaro / vocals
- Alfonso Olive / bass
- Pietro Pellegrini / keyboards
- Giorgio Santanderea / drums
- Guido Wasserman / guitar

Alphataurus is one of those legendary RPI bands who are obscure in the annals of general progressive rock, but much appreciated by Italian prog fanatics who venture beyond the more well-known groups. Not much is known about the group from Milan who sprang on to the scene with a great album before vanishing in typical RPI fashion. A second album was partially recorded and later released by Mellow in the '90s as part of their archival projects. Our original site Bio summed them up like this:

"Expressive Heavy prog band from the classic early 70's Italian prog scene, very similar to MUSEO ROSENBACH and IL BALLETO DI BRONZO. Just like their contemporary 'sister' bands they mix very well the heavy parts with soft melodic passages, with exquisite contrasting strong voice. The keyboards are superb and their long thematic developments alone would merit an interest in their albums. They released two albums, the first one "Alphataurus" considered by many as a masterpiece of the 70's Italian scene. They are an unparallel heavy prog classic to my ears."

They did mix well the light and heavier sections and sometimes even a bluesy, jazzy, or spacey edge. I believe they probably had both English and Italian influences with the former being perhaps VDGG or even Deep Purple. I would say if you enjoy the heavier side of Italian, such as De De Lind, JET, or Museo Rosenbach, you will need to check out Alphataurus. Tragically the band split in 1974 while working on their second album, leaving it unfinished. It was released posthumously but was not even close to finished. Drummer Giorgio Santandrea went on to work briefly in Crystals, and Pietro Pellegrini collaborated with both Riccardo Zappa and PFM.

What else can I say that many others haven't in praise of Alphataurus' eponymous album? Well, for starters, this is one of the top masterpieces of hard rock oriented Italian prog, or Italian prog, for that matter. The level of beauty and imagination instilled in all compositions, the fine interplay created among the four musicians, the captivating layers and chords played on synth, organ, harpsichord and mellotron, the stunning vocal lines sung by the lead vocalist. there are so many ingredients that make this dish made in Columbus' hometown such a fantastic feast. Actually, none of these five tracks sounds as heavy as some other bands catalogued in this sub-genre (Balletto, Biglietto, Museo Rosenbach, for example), but there's always that special intense fire drifting through the electric guitar lines, the keyboard solos and textures, the powerful rhythm section, and of course, the half-operatic rock linings of Michele Bavaro's singing (sometimes anticipating and over-Dioing Dio). 'Peccato d'Orgoglio' is a great 12-minute opener: this track itself is the most representative incarnation of the band's style, full of diverse motifs, all of them bearing a predominant orchestral feel, yet played with a hard rocking attitude. The guitar and keyboard parts sound really hard, and so do the sung parts. The lead singer's deliveries are both ballsy and sensitive, and the occasional harmonies are quite strong, too (similarly to the vocal harmonies in the best New Trolls repertoire). Then comes the mostly bluesy 'Dopo l'Uragano', the only piece in the album in whcih the guitar assumes a clearly prominent role - the cadences delivered on the basic acoustic guitar chords and the subsequent electric guitar riffs make it really happen for the main theme. As always, the vocalist's energy acts as a cornerstone for the effective delivery of the track. The 3 minute instrumental 'Croma' is a delicious baroque-oriented instrumental with some incorporated jazzy twists: the alternation of spinet and organ passages finds a perfect background in the massive moog layers and added colours on guitar, which come to a point of majestic explosion in the closing climax. The closing floursihes on combined synth and guitar are simply too emotional to keep the listener indifferent - amazing!! Alphataurus focuses on their symphonic side on 'La Mente Vola' (with keyboardist Pietro Pellegrini singing the lead vocal parts), which includes a short but effective vibraphone solo, as well as eerie moog passages. On teh other hand, the closure 'Ombra Muta' returns to the essence of the first two tracks. In this way, 'La mente Vola' finds the band exploring a spacey side to their music that is quite a novelty in the album, while 'Ombra Muta' comes to eptiomize what is the truest and most intimate symponic essence of Alphataurus. In short, this is an Italian hard prog delicatessen. 

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