Since 2012 of my re-introduction of the Rock In Opposition movement thanks to the Romantic Warriors series from the realms of Jose Zegarra Holder and Adele Schmidt, I have a very strange admiration of a group from Norway called Panzerpappa. Now, I first heard their music on Sid Smith’s Podcasts from the Yellow Room when he played one of their tracks from their fifth album, Astromalist released on the Rune Grammofon label. They have formed back in 1998 and have released five albums since then.
And then I remember buying the fifth album on Wayside Music and I played the whole thing through and love it. Then, I almost forgot about them. It wasn’t until I think it was Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout that made me fell in love with Panzerpappa again. This year, they’ve released their sixth album entitled Pestrottedans in which I went ahead and bought from The Laser's Edge website. And it’s their label debut with AltrOck Records. The name of the album translates to, “Dance of the Plague Rat.”
The name of it came through when drummer Trond Gjellum wrote this as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to his wife, Tone. After her trip to Morocca, she realized that she didn’t feel well. So Trond went on Google and concluded that she had the plague and that she could be his plague rat. So, in order to make her feel better, he insisted to have a dance with her to an early draft that Trond was working on. And soon, the name of the album was born.
You could tell that Panzerpappa had a real sense of humor when it comes to music. Following in the footsteps of the RIO bands including Decibel, Henry Cow, Present, and the late great Grand Wazoo himself, Frank Zappa, this is a real knock-out adventure to sink your teeth into. Here the quintet bring a wacky and powerful ride to get you off the couch and enjoy of what is about to come.
Now mind you, earlier in another review, I’ve mentioned I have a love of the Norway Prog scene, and now adding Panzerpappa to the list, let’s just say, it’s about to get bigger every time something special that awaits for me. Recorded at Avant Audio between from June to November of 2014 and mixed and mastered by the great Udi Koomran at Ginger’s Studio in Tel Aviv from April to October of last year, Panzerpappa pull together as a team.
Barkus I Vinterland brings a catchy avant-garde bossa-nova rhythm thanks to Hans-Petter Alfredsen’s homage to the late great Graham Bond as he takes his Organ into that mellowing groove that resembles the Love Is The Law-era followed by Steinar Borve’s chilling saxophone walk on the streets in a dusty hot evening starry knight. Between the opener, Spadom and the seguing title track, it has this quality of different styles and mid-fast tempos for an insane dance.
The woodwinds and guitar between Jarle Storlokken and Borve along with bassist Anders K. Krabberod and the insane percussion work of Trond who brings the styles of Bill Bruford that comes to mind and Christian Vander of Magma. There’s also a fantasy side on the title track of the last 2-minutes of the composition as it heads into a dreamy landscape thanks to Alfredsen’s atmospheric beauty and jazzier chills of Borve’s sax before kicking into overdrive as Jarle channels Frank Zappa and Roger Trigaux (Univers Zero/Present).
Landsbysladder 3 deals with the discussion on the pros and cons of small-town gossip. Jarle shines like a magician as he is very much like a painter. He improvises through various melodies on the frets in different time signatures through the different formats of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic improvisations. But in the midsection, there’s a Canterbury vibe I could feel in the style of Egg and early Soft Machine into the mix with a Crimson-sque twist.
Goda’ Gomorrah channels the haunting ominous post-apocalyptic nightmare of hell. The ‘80s score resembling between Goblin, Dario Argento, distorted guitars, and synths. Close your eyes and imagine Claudio Simonetti could have used this during the score for Argento’s Tenebrae. It is a chilling finale to close the album and paying homage to the Italian Prog masters, is a beautiful, frightening, and menacing tribute.
This is my third time listening to Pestrottedans. And now after listening to those three moments of their music, I adore Panzerpappa. AltrOck have never disappointed me when it comes to Rock In Opposition and the Rock Progressivo Italiano bands. If you love Frank Zappa, the Canterbury scene, King Crimson, Univers Zero, Present, Decibel, and Goblin, then delve into the mysteries and wonders of Panzerpappa.