Tuesday, 18 February 2014

THE PARK OF MONSTERS

Taproban began life in Rome in 1996 on the initiative of keyboardist Gianluca De Rossi and drummer Fabio Mociatti. The name of the band was inspired by the ancient name of Ceylon or Sri-Lanka where Italian philosopher Tommaso Campanella (1568 – 1639) set his imaginary “City of the Sun”. After a lot of trouble and line-up changes, in 2002 Taproban released their debut album, “Ogni pensiero vola” (Every thought flies) on the French label Musea Records with a line-up featuring founder member Gianluca De Rossi (keyboards, moog, synthesizers, acoustic guitar, vocals) along with Davide Guidoni (drums, percussion) and Guglielmo Mariotti (bass, acoustic and classical guitar, mandolin, vocals). The main sources of inspiration of the band are Emerson Lake & Palmer and Le Orme but the music is not too derivative and perfectly fits the concept. The music and lyrics, in fact, were inspired by a very peculiar place, the Garden of Bomarzo, near Viterbo, also known as the park of Monsters of Bomarzo. It’s a set of monuments created by Prince Pierfrancesco Orsini in the XVI century and made up of small buildings and a wooded park populated by strange sculptures. It was built not to please but to astonish and its symbolism is arcane. According to the liner notes, the band tried to transpose in music the ideal dimension behind this artistic creation, which consists of “non-conformist, parodoxical overturning of the Renaissance stylistic principles of balance and harmony, proposing instead a horrid, grotesque version of classical mythology and chivalric epic”. Well, it’s high time now to visit the park following a musical path between mythology and fantasy...


The opener “Prologo” (Prologue) starts with dark sounds and hypnotic percussive patterns, then the tension melts into a dreamy acoustic passage... From a window in his castle Prince Pierfrancesco Orsini still seems to be observing the statues in his garden... “You, who are coming in, leave out every thought / Until you reach your goal...”.

L’enigma della Sfinge” (The Sphinx enigma) is full of vibrant energy and exotic excitement. In the middle section you can hear echoes of bolero and oriental touches... At the entrance to the garden there are two mysterious sphinxes, one with an enigma carved in its stone... “You, who are coming in, set your mind aside / And tell me whether so many wonders are made for deceit or for art...”.


Orlando che squarta un pastore” (Orlando quartering a shepherd) is a very short instrumental that was inspired by a sculpture portraying Orlando, the protagonist of the poem Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, quartering a shepherd who had annoyed him. It’s a kind of warning against the excesses of passion leading to blind rage...

The dreamy, ethereal “La Tartaruga e la Fortuna” (The Turtle and Fortune) was inspired by a sculptural group representing the contrast between Virtue and Fortune. The Turtle symbolizes the prudence required to follow the inconstant ways of Fortune, a female winged figure walking on a ball and playing two horns. “Blind and inconstant ruler of the world / I must pay attention to second her balance...”.

In “Pegaso il cavallo alato” (Pegasus the winged horse) the rhythm takes off for a ride on the wings of fantasy. This track was inspired by the statue of one of the best known imaginary creatures in Greek mythology, a divine winged white horse... “Look at his wings, the wings of freedom / Look in his wings, the wings of freedom...”.


La casa pendente” (The little leaning house) is a kind of surreal psychedelic track featuring strange filtered narrative vocals and evocative experimental sounds. It was inspired by a strange building that is set in the Garden of Bomarzo, a small leaning house apparently bent by adversities but which never falls down...

Il signore del bosco” (The lord of the wood) starts with dark organ chords. It’s a short instrumental inspired by the statue of an old man sitting on a throne, the God of Hell as depicted by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso in his poem Jerusalem Delivered, first published in 1581, which tells a largely fictionalized version of the First Crusade.

La ninfa dormiente” (The sleeping nymph) is another beautiful instrumental, an idyllic interlude that begins with a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio setting a dreamy atmosphere. It was inspired by the statue of a woman lying on her back...


L’Orco (Lasciate ogni pensiero voi ch’entrate)” (The ogre – Set aside every thought you who enter here) is a long, complex track featuring a dark atmosphere. It was inspired by an enormous, ferocious mask representing the door to Hell and portrayed on the album cover. “Infernal monster mask, in your gaping maw there’s a room carved in the rock / I go in cautiously / The light is low, it filters from the holes of the eyes / It carves the table, and on the walls...”. Well, listen to the music and imagine the rest!

The last track “Il tempio araldico” (The heraldic temple) is an amazing instrumental with a strong Renaissance touch. It was inspired by a memorial to Giulia Farnese, Pierfrancesco Orsini’s wife, located at the top of the garden. It’s also called the heraldic temple and represents victory over death and oblivion and the achievement of a spiritual purification releasing from anxiety...


More info about the band: