Sunday, 13 May 2012

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION

Murple was one of the many “one-shot bands” of Italian prog scene of the early seventies. After the release of an excellent debut album “Io sono Murple” (I am Murple) in 1974 they disappeared... until 2007, when three of the original members, Pier Carlo Zanco (vocals, piano, keyboards), Duilio Sorrenti (drums, percussion) and Mario Garbarino (bass) reformed the band and, with the help of some guest musician such Sabina Gagliardi (vocals) and Edoardo Massimi (guitar), recorded a brand new album that was released on the independent label BTF in 2008. The album features good packaging and an interesting booklet where you can find the explanation of the “conceptual work“...

Murple live 2010

In 1874 took place in Saint Petersburg an exhibition dedicated to the work of the Russian painter Viktor Hartmann. Modest Mussorgsky, who was a friend of the painter, composed his piano suite “Pictures at an Exhibition” on the emotional wave that was provoked by the paintings... Well, Murple’s work is not a rock interpretation of Mussorgsky music (like EL&P’s), but an original work inspired by the same paintings. In the booklet you can find the images of the paintings with a short commentary, so you can match the music and images and for a guided tour, a “promenade”, through the tracks of the album. “Quadri di un’esposizione” is a good work, although in my opinion it’s not outstanding. Sometimes vintage and modern sounds are mixed together a bit clumsily, but the music flows away smoothly enough all along the album, track after track, during its less than 34 minutes length.


The first painting, “Promenade & Gnomus”, represents a wicked dwarf wondering in a forest and a sound of spacey keyboards introduces a beautiful short symphonic track... “In the deepest dark of your wood / The meeting with that hidden being / Twisted limps spread fear...”. The second scene “Promenade & il vecchio castello” (Promenade and the old castle) is set in Italy where a troubadour sing his song in front of the walls of an old medieval castle in a sad landscape. The dreamy and baroque atmosphere here is enriched by female vocals and by a good instrumental break in “Seventies style”. The third scene “Tuileries” is set in Paris where some happy children play in a garden. It’s a short and joyful instrumental led by classical guitar and piano... The fourth painting, “Bydlo”, represents an heavy Polish chariot towed by oxen and here the music curiously swings from vintage sounds to a definitely more “synthetic atmospheres”... 


The fifth painting, “Il ballo dei pulcini” (The dance of the chicks), represents some dancers disguised as chicks coming out from their eggs, while the music reminds me slightly of some works of Rondò Veneziano and Lucio Battisti. The next painting “Samuel Goldenberg & Schmuyle” represents the meeting of two antithetic men and the music is built upon a “dialog” between piano and synthesizers. The following “Promenade & Limoges” represents a noisy scene in the market square of Limoges and here pop sounds are intertwined with a short drum solo and a “vintage organ flavour”... The eight scene, “Catacombae”, depicts a visit to the catacombs of Paris and the music features a church choir and a good gothic atmosphere... The ninth painting represents “Baba Yaga”, a bizarre witch, and the music inspired by this image in my opinion is by far the weakest track on the album, definitively too “poppish” (some melodic lines reminds me of a song by Zucchero Fornaciari, “Solo seduto su una panchina del porto...”). Tha last painting, “La grande porta di Kiev & Promenade”, represents a project for a gate in city of Kiev while the music reminds me of Le Orme’s “Verità nascoste” and features strings on a marching beat and a delicate piano outro.


Well, on the whole, although non essential, this album should be interesting for Italianprog lovers. After the release of the album the band played some gigs with a line up featuring Pier Carlo Zanco (vocals, piano, keyboards), Duilio Sorrenti (drums, percussion), Mario Garbarino (bass), Maurizio Campagnano (guitar) and Claudia D’Ottavi (vocals). I hope Murple won’t wait too long for their next work!



Read the interview with Murple at Progarchives. Click HERE


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