Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 92 - 04/05/04

Farlig Vandring
Avart Audio Productions

When digging out background information for this review, I was reminded I was one of 20-30 people who attended Panzerpappa's debut gig back in 1999. Since then, they've been through several line-up changes, played several gigs and released two CD-R albums. Three of the current members backed Richard Sinclair (ex. Wild Flowers, Caravan, Hatfield & the North etc.) one memorable evening in 2002. Farlig Vandring [meaning Hazardous Hiking] is their first "real" CD-album to be released by a real record company.

To describe Panzerpappa's music is not the easiest of tasks. It is instrumental with silly titles, partly improvised and includes elements from rock, jazz, folk etc. The tracks are seldom less than 6 minutes long. Guitars, keyboards and saxophones are up front. The latter in particular, partly sounding like clarinets, gives the band a distinct sound. The six tracks of the new album are loaded with time signature changes, neck-breaking melody runs, playful avant-garde experiments and some hummable tunes, even a few sweet and melancholic ones. Here are elements from British progressive rock of the late 60s and the entire 70s (King Crimson and Canterbury collaborations such as Soft Machine, Hatfield & The North, National Health and Bruford to name but a few), the Rock In Opposition (RIO) movement (Univers Zero, Samla Mammas Manna and in particular Henry Cow) and also Zappa and his Mothers.

In the beginning the opening track "Farlig Vandring (På Tynt Vann)" [Hazardous Hiking (On Thin Water)] stands out. It includes several melodic and beautiful themes until the band suddenly moves into more dangerous terrain. A guitar passage on top of floating keyboards reminds of something very familiar, though I'm not able to put my finger on it. In the same sense as timeless pop music, the band recycles bits of other artists' works, but they put the elements in their own framework and all in all sounds like no-one else. Only at the end of the final track "Ompapaomompapa"  [Umhpahpahumhumhpahpah] there's a short sequence that gives definite reverberations of Genesis' mellotron-into of "Watcher Of The Skies". The only pompous moment of the album. Do we notice a tongue in the cheek?

"Agraphia" is closer to earth, the ballad of the album, sort of. A stricter half-acoustic, half-electric chamber music piece dominated by guitars, vibraphone and saxophones. The start of "Utrygge Trøfler" [Troubling Truffles] includes a few electric and eclectic jazz-rock and jazz passages. After an experimental break it's back to the jazz-rock and eventually there's a melancholic end with acoustic guitar, sax and two guest violins. It illustrates the abundance of the group's music. Other artists might have filled an entire album with the melody lines Panzerpappa includes within one composition. They're certainly one of a kind in Norway, an acquired taste and probably sells more records through mail and foreign distributors than at home. If you're not scared by complex music and have the patience, Panzerpappa is a rewarding acquaintance.

Copyright © 2004 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Panzerpappa article/review: Pestrottedans.

© 2011 Luna Kafé