NIn the 70s the progressive rock scene in Rome was very intense. The bands in the spotlight were broadening the success of this music: Rovescio della Medaglia, Quella Vecchia Locanda, Reale Accademia and above all, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.
This first wave was followed by a second, not as lucky one, lead by bands such as Albero Motore, Pierrot Lunaire and Murple.
Murple was formed in 1971 by two young musicians with little experience, drummer Duilio Sorrenti and bass player Mario Garbarino, two very close friends. They were soon joined by keyboard player Pier Carlo Zanco, who was studying piano, double bass and composition at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia and by guitarist/singer Pino Santamaria.
The name of the band was inspired by an American friend who imagined to talk to an invisible penguin. This original idea was also exploited on stage with a gigantic plastic penguin which was inflated during the performance and penguin logos placed on the equipment.
The quartet, all very ambitious personalities, would spend many hours rehearsing, determined to improve their technique. The band’s musical equipment was highly professional – Hammond organ, Arp Odyssey synthesizer, Gibson guitar, Jazz Fender bass and Ludwig double bass drum set.
The search for a record deal takes them to Naples in 1973 where they will perform at the grand “Be In” concert organized by the Osanna, a thriving band of the time.
Murple’s performance was noticed immediately by various producers who were waiting for them to get off stage. One of them, Roberto Marsala was enthusiastic about their project and offered them to start recording with a new label, Fare, created by the famous Basf company.
“Io sono Murple” their debut concept album came out in 1974 with a marvellous cover that was acknowledged as one of the best of those years.
The album describes the story of Murple, a penguin born free , who will unfortunately and against his will, become a prisoner. He will leave his home, the ice pack of the Antartic, to start an initiation journey that will take him through dramatic encounters: Man and Captivity (“Nessuna Scelta”), a Circus (“Tra I fili”), a Zoo called Antarplastic (“Un mondo così”) where he will sadly live the rest of his days on a plastic iceberg.
The album is divided into two suites. The stylistic scheme of the work is inspired by Emerson Lake and Palmer with duets between drums and keyboards, underlined by the intertwining combination of bass and guitar and minimal vocal parts. The album and the single “Tra I fili/Murple Rock”, were recorded directly to disk at the Chantalain Studio and mixed in a couple of days.
At the same time Murple were backing up Giuliana Montedoro on her album “Donna Circo”, published by the same label Fare.
Just as they were about to start recording their second album, BASF decides to close the label and thus the career of the band comes suddenly to a halt.
Pino Santamaria joins the service and is replaced by Roberto Puleo. The band then accepts to back up Mal, singer of The Primitives, who will tour with them for two years. Then, both Pier Carlo Zanco and Mario Garbarino will leave the band, well determined to complete their studies, one at the Conservatory, the other at Medical School.
In 1975 Duilio Sorrenti becomes Angelo Branduardi’s live stage drummer joining the rest of the band: Franco Sabbatini (keyboards), Gianni Colaiacono (bass) and Maurizio Fabrizio (guitar). They will also perform at the Midem in Cannes. He will appear on TV in “Buona Domenica” with Antonello Venditti in 1979. In the meantime he opens his own recording studio: Grop Studio, in Rome. Later, he will join Balletto di Bronzo lead by virtuoso keyboard player Gianni Leone and a young and yet unknown Max Gazzè on bass. Another important collaboration of those years is the one with Claudio Simonetti. He will then form “Emporium”, the first rock orchestra in Rome, still active today.
In the meantime Pier Carlo Zanco obtains the chair of of double bass at the Conservatory of Trieste and enters Angelo Branduardi’s live band with whom he will collaborate for seven years. He will also work on the realization of some movie scores and record two CDs of early music with his own group and Branduardi: “Futuro Antico” 1 and 2 for EMI Classic. He is presently Artistic Director of the “Associazione Musicale Romana” and Vice President and co-
Mario Garbarino carries on his passion for music through various collaborations among which the one with Davide Spitaleri, singer of the group Metamorfosi.
In 2002 Akarma republishes “Io sono Murple” both on vinyl and cd, maintaining the precious original layout and booklet.
The album gains reborn vitality and good success among fans in Italy and abroad.
Thus the idea of reviving Murple, a dream that comes true in 2008. Duilio Sorrenti, Mario Garbarino and Pier Carlo Zanco reunite and after 34 years, Murple’s journey continues.
This time we find Murple in an art gallery, at the exhibition of Victor Hartman’s paintings, the same painter who had inspired Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, composition that was adapted by Emerson Lake and Palmer to progressive rock music.
The band though seeks inspiration directly from Hartman’s paintings, guided by the emotions created by the images.
Murple’s new work has been recorded and mixed at Grop Studio in Rome.The beautiful cover is by painter Nicoz Balboa.
“Quadri di un’Esposizione”, the new album, is immediately acknowledged and appreciated by Matthias Scheller and published by AMS/BTF. Murple’s fans throughout the world, positively surprised by this unexpected come back, are warmly welcoming this new work, grateful for having the opportunity to listen to the never forgotten sounds of the 70s and to praise these musicians who have played a brief but important role in the musical scene of those fantastic years of rock..
Paolo Ansali -