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Murple - Io Sono Murple CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.91 | 185 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars While the prog world of the early 1970s found many a band releasing a single album and then fading into oblivion, Italy seems to have had more than its share of one shot wonders that existed for a few years, found the opportunity to release a sole album and then disappear into the ethers at least for the next several decades until the world caught up to their artistic visions. Italy also seemed to have generated some of the best one shots whose albums today are considered classics and hold up surprisingly well after many decades after their initial release.

Such is the case of the one album IO SONO MURPLE by the band MURPLE. This band came to life in 1971 Rome as the result of two friends, bassist Mario Garbarino and percussionist Duilio Sorrenti sharing a musical passion for the up-and-coming Italian prog scene. The pals quickly recruited keyboardist Pier Carlo Zanco and guitarist / vocalist Giuseppe "Pino" Santamaria and after encountering an American friend who claimed he chatted with an invisible penguin named MURPLE, the band was so amused by it all that they adopted MURPLE as their moniker and composed a concept album around this fictions penguin who would become a mascot.

The band was known to perform with an inflatable penguin on stage during its existence from 1971 to 1973. MURPLE's solo album was recorded during this time but didn't find an actually release date until 1974 due to the pass the ball attitude of various Italian record labels. The album eventually found a home on the German label Basf which did next to nothing to promote the album thus leaving MURPLE a mere footnote in Italian prog history until the prog revival of the 1990s rediscovered long lost treasures and gave them new life with proper modern musical formats.

Much like an early version of Camel's "The Snow Goose," MURPLE was a symphonic prog band that crafted beautiful melodic compositions based on classical music and added the heft of 70s rock music. Each side of the original vinyl featured two long suites each divided into six movements. This concept album narrated the tale of a penguin named MURPLE who was bored with his everyday existence in the frigid Antarctic and decided to move to the world of humanity where he gets captured and thrown in a zoo. The tale is dictated by the musical motifs and although the lyrics are in the same mold as other Italian prog acts such as PFM and Banco, MURPLE used them sparingly and opted to use sounds as a means of storytelling.

The album features both lush symphonic soundscapes that are light and breezy as well as heavier rock passages with choppy time signature complexities however the album is more on the mellow side and although not as technically challenging as some of the Italian contemporaries, MURPLE relied more on rich sound textures, complex motifs and ambience thus putting Zanco in the spotlight for much of the album's run. Like almost all Italian prog, IO SONO MURPLE was sung in Italian but also like much Italian prog the concept of the album really doesn't matter at all with music that is this well constructed.

Like many excellent bands of the day, IO SONO MURPLE features complex strolls down prog alley with hairpin turns and exciting musical developments that oft surprise when least expected without sacrificing the overall melodic flow. All in all this album very much makes me think of what "The Snow Goose" would sound like if Camel was Italian rather than English because the musical developments and subject matter of a single bird as the star of the show is so similar. MURPLE wouldn't last beyond this release but has since reformed in the 21st century and has released two more albums decades after this album faded into obscurity. Luckily it has been saved for the rest of time which is a blessing considering how beautifully designed this intricate Italian symphonic prog sounds even by today's standards.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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