Alphataurus - Alphataurus

Year of Release: 1995
Label: Vinyl Magic
Catalog Number: VM 051
Format: CD
Total Time: 39:54:00

Long considered a classic of Italian progressive rock, Alphataurus' self-titled debut album (1973) was blessed with any number of qualities that, each considered alone, was sufficient to cast the release in a glowing light and wrap the listener in rapt attention to the exclusion of all other factors. Consider that the Genoese band was in full command of the tools of their trade and the available studio technology of the time, that they wrote deceptively simple themes that were then explored with consummate skill, that they brought a broad palette of tonal color to their wonderfully emotive compositions, and that they were able to balance their budding virtuosity and their mature approach to song craft so superbly on this, their virgin effort.

Alphataurus first presents the listener with a pair of aggressive, heavy rock assaults before changing course with a brief instrumental, laden with beautiful spinetta and mellotron (which is not listed among the bank of keyboard instruments played on this release), and ending with a pair of brilliant works, one richly symphonic, the other jagged and challenging. The band's compositions are ever changing, with frequent shifts of time and tempo, endlessly varying dynamics and a fluent sonic vocabulary, gentle and acoustic one moment, followed the next by angry Hammond organ and shrieking guitar. This is a release that will be enjoyed immediately and one that will continue to grow with each listen, like a glass of wine, revealing its fine qualities with each new sip.

The first track, "Peccato d'Orgoglio," sets the tone for the band's style, carefully building and releasing the tension in its theme. First electric and wild, like Il Balleto Di Bronzo's "Introduzione", then quiet, as an acoustic guitar passage introduces the chorus and the ensuing twelve minutes of striking ensemble interplay, the parts of this epic weave together like an intricate tapestry as Pietro Pellrgrini's moog synthesizer and fiery Hammond organ battle with guitarist Guido Wasserman to set the mood of this piece. Drummer Giorgio Santandrea and bassist Alfonso Oliva provide the perfect rhythmic counterpoint to the keyboards and guitar, Santandrea particularly keeping his drumming varied and in the fore front without ever overpowering the band. "Peccato d' Orgoglio" takes its time, showing Alphataurus equally adept with its quiet contemplative interludes and it's charging instrumental passages.

"Dopo l'Uragano" is this releases most straightforward track, more 70s hard rock than progressive. It sounds uncannily like another band of the time, Lucifer's Friend. Alphataurus singer Michele Bavaro, in fact, sounds just like Lucifer's Friend/Uriah Heep vocalist John Lawton on this number.

Track three, "Croma" is a gorgeous, but very short instrumental work that shows the band can handle full on symphonic progressive, with layer upon layer of mellotron and analog synthesizer sounds. The keyboards build a grand fa?ade which fairly drips with regal pleasures, setting the stage for the following track, "La Mente Vola." "La Mente Vola" is reminiscent of Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra and ends with a very cool burbling synthesizer solo similar to the style of Curved Air's Francis Monkman.

Alphataurus ends with "Ombra Muta," a piece that starts out sounding like Pink Floyd from the Meddle era, and breaks down into an instrumental free-for-all with blazing Hammond organ, wheezing moog solos and crazy wah-wahed guitar. Syncopated, stop and start song construction marks this piece until its opening theme takes hold once again to calm the roiling waters. A false ending almost stops the chaos, but "Ombra Muta" escapes its bonds and bursts out again in quirky fragments for another moment or two before coming to its conclusion.

Alphataurus is a wonderful re-release, full of strong keyboard performances, well crafted songs and great vocal and instrumental work from the whole band. This music is forceful and vibrant and breathes with the bold spirit of the Italian progressive rock scene of the early seventies. An essential and refreshing mix of the heavy and the heady, Alphataurus deserves a spot in every collection.

Originally released by Magma in 1973 (MAGL 18001)

Peccato d'Orgoglio / Dopo l'Uragano / Croma / La Mente Vola / Ombra Muta

Pietro Pellegrini - Piano, Organo, Moog, Vibrafono, Spinetta
Guido Wasserman - Chitarra
Giorgio Santandrea - Batteria, Timpani, Tumbe
Alfonso Oliva - Basso
Michele Bavaro - Voce

Alphataurus (1973/1995)
Dietro L'Uragano (1994)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: April 19th 2005
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Hits: 1384
Language: english


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