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Marsupilami - Marsupilami CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.88 | 75 ratings

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3 stars The product of two brothers, Leary and Fred Hasson (organ and vocals respectively), Marsupilami - a name taken from the work of Belgian cartoonist Andre Franquin - formed in 1968 and was one of Transatlantic Records first acts to be signed. A fascinating missing link in the Prog chain, Marsupilami's debut is a hoot-- a wonderful and slightly insane record that revealed a wholly unique kind of underground rock. Oh it's prog, baby, but at the time the six-piece was conflicted as to what exactly they were offering and evidently felt their work should be placed with Jazz or classical. Of course they were neither, just an incredibly inventive rock band and looking back, had a small but measurable effect on what became the Prog era with a sound that may have even influenced the likes of Dave Stewart and Keith Emerson. In 1969 they were on a heavy schedule appearing with Deep Purple, Joe Cocker Band, Quintessence, Mighty Baby, and were the first group to play at the Isle of Wight Festival. By mid-'69 they'd turned down an offer from MCA and recorded this album near King's Road in London at an old dairy turned studio, released in April 1970 on Transatlantic.

Each cut was done in one or two takes, capturing an immediacy most prog artists save Egg or Soft Machine would reject in favor of precision and formality. No such sacrifice of living energy here, the material an impressive amalgam of cerebral complexity and organic depth, structure with some room to bend but not break. We're met with a wind-swept valley for the monastic 'Dorian Deep', Dave Laverock's classic fuzz guitar leading with Leary Hasson's organ and Jessica Stanley-Clarke's twitter on flute, somewhere between Santana's early jams and Arzachel's wraith-rock. Canterbury School jazz for 'Born to be Free', and majestic 'And the Eagle Chased the Dove to its Ruin' drips with the rhythmic energy of classic psychedelia. The funereal creaking of 'Ab Initio Ad Finem' evolves into a serious rock movement and interprets an Old Testament-style sermon on cataclysmic events, an instrumental clocking in at a healthy 10&1/2 minutes with the hot timekeeping of Mike Fouracre & Richard Hicks, Hasson letting go on his Hammond. And they close with 'Facilis Descencus Averni' where their Baroque leanings come out in full.

Earthy, powerful and intriguing, Marsupilami was one of the first true progressive rock bands. Complete in its ambition, total in its capabilities, absolute in its theater, an ensemble that burned just a bit brighter than most in the English post-underground scene and a must for any serious Prog completist.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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