It’s always great to see that bands are still embracing the Prog genre to this day and are keeping it alive and of course through social media sites we are able to get the music out there faster and globally reaching more and more people by the hour.
Norway has once again delivered us a band that expands and engages the genre as well as maintaining a sound that is modern but with plenty of 70’s flare to it. With only a few lineup changes in the last 14 years Panzerpappa has been dishing out the Prog sounds since their humble beginnings in 1996 and having played gigs with fellow Norwegian bands, Magic Pie, Pymlico and Gentle Knife they are becomming a household name in their homeland and the genre. Pestrottedans is their sixth album offering and full of big sounds and tight musicianship bringing the band the closest together in this seven track magnum opus.
“Spådom” opens up the album with the bass note slide drop and they fall right in to this other worldly club sound that one could picture on some far off Douglas Adams description. The singular notes grab you immediately and wake you up as the horns are right there in your face with a brightness like the sun. A solid beat with a slice of this and that and passages of that early King Crimson flare to it a la the Lizard Lp at the end of 1970. The mix of horns and guitars bring that sweet jazz refrain to the stage and the drums are tight and consistent. The walking bass lines are clever and an a great underlying riff keeping the song bouncing as the synths add in their blanket of wavy tones bringing in more of that early 70’s scene. “Pestrotteans” the album’s title track is a swinging paced track that gets right to it from the first notes and and has that distinct European feel to it, something about it gives you that fast driving feel of the open roads that twist and turn through valleys and around mountains. Almost a samba feel to it as the music also twists and turns its way around the room. The tempo/timbre changes are ever so present here and the band brings the song to pinnacles of heightened tension then releases them gliding back down to their smooth tones then they drop out almost entirely as they come back in slowly and quietly with the start/stop breaks making you wonder what’s going to happen next when they bring it back up to a slow grinding and finally back in to the swing of things with a tense feel of pressure building up to its boiling point to cut it off with a stop ending. Every instrument here was on equal terms with one another, no one instrument took the lead and it gave the song a great sense of musical harmony. “Barkus I Vinterland” comes in softly and we are graced with a sax solo that has an air of sultriness to it as the synths swing by to add to the depth of the Parisian cafe feel here. The guitar work is sharp as it steps in and leads us down the cobblestone roads where we find tourist traps and cafes filled with people smoking and drinking espresso. This song has a divine sense of lounging around with great music behind your head. The drumming changes up and keeps the moods very much to the forefront as the synths and guitars speak as people you meet in the streets. The star/stops at the end make a grand finale to the track as it fades out finishing our bijou stroll down a French side street.
“Fundal” enters in next with a slow draw and build up of drums and guitars stamping their musical feet hard against the ground making it tremble and finally ending up in a whirling musical drive that heads straight for the centre of your brain as it pulses out of your speakers. It has a very space orientated feel to it, again similar to the opening track like you are in a distant planet bar or club and this band is from who knows where playing on stage creating these epic sounds before you. A definite Krautrock feel to their music as they expand their use of horns and synths, a heavier version of what Kraan sounded like int he early 70’s. The band pulls it back a bit three quarters of the way through to drop some snap notes in and create a driving stomp before they pick it up again and get back in to the driver’s seat and take it back to the steady synth riffs. The choppy ending to the song was a surprise and a great ending to the song as it took you up and let you down with a smack, brilliant! “Tredje Malist“, a calm and gentle opening like cool running waters brings us in to the beginnings of this song. A Medieval presence to this one as the band dances around instrumentally and creates a mischievous approach to it allowing one to envision other worlds and realms from fantasy lore. More of a story telling track than a ballad and a soundtrack to the fjords and landscapes of the country as it regales the timeless sounds of Norway and her history to me. The horns are gentle and create a smooth set of musical passages throughout the song, the drums and percussion keep your feet tapping and the synths generate of flow that carries you to the end. It is one thing I have found with Norwegian bands is that they do create wonderful sounds that conjure up fantasy and folklore feelings to their music and open up new concepts to the genre because they incorporate many of their country’s historical legends and folklore in their music. Another great song where the musicians were all equally balanced out. “Landsbyladder 3” clocks its way in and has you up and moving about with it’s swirling riffs and tone. The crisp tight guitar work here is exceptional as the rest of the band dances about, the tempo/timbre changes are well placed and they swing and sway the track to and fro for you creating a moving musical ocean of sound. The band embraces its 1970’s roots and upbringings well here as they pump out its tones beautifully with the swing beat and synth leads. This track has the presence of an avant-garde film soundtrack or something you would hear in a David Cronenberg movie as it shifts and changes a number of times creating an ever changing tempo and like Cronenberg films you never know what to expect. Like the entire album the music of Panzerpappa has you guessing, thinking, day dreaming and wondering all the time as they bring so much in to their sound and tones sending you in to space or a forest or wherever it may take you. Keeping with the Prog tradition of being different they placed the longest song second to last as a big hurrah before finishing off the album with “Goda’ Gommorah“.
The final track on the album has an ancient overtone to its start and the band has saved this for the last track with the intentions of fulfilling their own journey through making this album. With any band that does all instrumental albums the music has its own voices and you as the listener can take it anywhere and they have successfully done that with this record. One could easily place this track in to any score set for film or stage where the final act begins and ends with this band. The sharp display of musicianship here is brilliant and forthcoming as they play off each other in a duel of sound. Sounds of epic proportions filled with tempo/timbre changes and beautiful contrast between the horns, guitars and synths as the drums plow their way through the melee of bright and dark tones overhead of its commanding hits on the kit. Visions of quests rarely taken, treasures lost and cursed waiting to be found all played out musically here and as the song winds down you are left wondering where to take your next steps.
The band has certainly landed themselves well to do despite some ups and down throughout their history and they are definitely going to keep heading forwards with their unique sounds and creative designs to their music. Given well deserved praise in their homeland of Norway and in Germany they will no doubt continue to turn heads as they tour and record. Panzerpappa has left their carbon footprint in the genre and they are hard at work cementing it to the annals of Prog Rock to which will be no problems for them. Enjoy