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Murple - Il Viaggio CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.96 | 16 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The chances of a `comeback' album of sorts from a vintage Seventies RPI band delivering hugely unexpected music was very unlikely - safe and predictable symphonic prog perhaps, but not much more. So what a delightful surprise it is to discover that `Il Viaggio', released in September 2014 and being only the third album in forty years for Roman band Murple, also holds some very unique and unexpected sounds! The group released an album back in 1974 that in some ways became a bit of a minor gem, `Io Sono Murple' due to its lengthy and colourful instrumental passages, and they returned in 2008 with the pleasant if unspectacular `Quadri di un Esposizione', but this new album sees a slightly altered line-up exploring new styles and directions, delivering their best work since their Seventies debut. While there's still an emphasis on vintage keyboard-dominated symphonic instrumental elements (of course!), this brisk 35 minute album also races through a mix of strong folk song-writing with an interesting approach to vocals, often giving the band a new identity altogether, allowing then to offer something more fresh and vital. Murple reborn if you will!

Rumbling dusty country acoustic guitar strains announce the title-track opener - not the sounds one would normally expect to hear on an RPI album! Don't worry, Italian prog devotees, before long a skittering relentless beat and the more typical shimmering organ and fizzy synths enter `Il Viaggio', but you're in for another surprise - a fascinating combination of both a male and female vocal singing in unison! Original Seventies member/keyboard/piano player Pier Carlo Zanco is joined by newcomer lady Claudia D'Ottavi, and the pair have such contrasting yet equally fascinating voices that unexpectedly come together perfectly. Overall it's quite an accessible piece, a pleasing tune made more interesting by some tasteful instrumental elements.

However, it's `Alejandra' that moves a little closer to the sounds of Murple's little 1974 jewel `Io Sono Murple'. A pleasing mellow instrumental, Duilio Sorrenti's punchy drums snap over droning organ, Mario Garbarino's murmuring bass slinks behind Mauro Arno's bluesy guitar wailing and the whirring Moog in the victorious finale lifts the piece high into clouds of symphonic heaven. A sprinkling of fancy piano to introduce `Nani e Clown' suggests a more romantic mood, but the almost eight minute piece darts through everything from galloping P.F.M-like prances with regal majesty, rambunctious drum outbursts and sweetly chiming guitars with dreamy bubbling Moogs. A drowsy vocal from Pier Carlo is eventually joined by Claudia's spirited proclamations. Next instrumental `Angelika' presents a beautiful mix of sadness and love, with mysterious and gently melancholic verses rescued by a warmer, almost fanfare-like repeated chorus and some lustful electric guitar soloing in the finale.

`Per Una Volta' is a straight-forward but tastefully stirring male/female vocal piece with warm acoustic guitar and sparkling piano, plus a lively instrumental run in the closing minute (shame about that fade-out though!). Instrumental `La Battagglia' is a medieval call- to-arms soundtrack full of regal pomp, driven by thick chunky bass, snarling guitars and imposing organ with wavering synth trills that effortlessly move between heroic and whimsical. Then, despite some darker lyrics (check out fellow reviewer Andrea's translation!), album closer `Sirene' is a pleasing and breezily melodic folk tune, acoustic guitar mixing with pan-pipes and sweetly murmuring bass, with brief moments of classical prettiness throughout as well. Perhaps a strange piece to close the album on, but a charming song all the same.

While plenty of the usual RPI sounds emerge throughout, this is not some lazy clone of past sounds, nor a band simply repeating the kind of music they used to deliver. Murple sound full of creativity and originality here, embracing new styles with enough of the symphonic synth-driven flavours of their older work, but reaching in refreshing new directions with great confidence and, perhaps for the first time, really giving themselves a truly distinctive identity. It means `Il Viaggio' is a beautiful little album that many Italian progressive listeners will likely end up falling in love with very easily!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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