PAPANGU — Holoceno (review)

PAPANGU — Holoceno album cover Album · 2021 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
One of the things i love about the internet age is that the entire history of music has been laid bare and pretty much put on an equal playing field without record companies dictating what should be heard and what should be jettisoned to the trash bin. As this age continues on, newer musicians have pretty much embraced the entire musical history as their influence instead of a few bands that existed as they grew up. This has seriously challenged the notion of labeling as the desire to create music without any restrictions continues to grow although plenty of retro bands are happy to stick to a designed genre.

Musical complacency is certainly not the case for Brazilian band PAPANGU which formed in 2012 in the city of Joāo Pessoa but has only finally released its debut HOLOCENO in 2021. Initially the band was content as a simple stoner rock trio but as time went on got into sludge metal and eventually the more progressive angsty sludge metal of early Mastodon. But why stop there? The band was equally fascinated by the tripped out zeuhl rhythms of bands like Magma and after seven years of stewing these ingredients in the cauldron of their own making, PAPANGU has hit the ground running with a rather unique mix of musical ideas in a combo effect that i have never heard before!

The band consists of Marco Mayer (bass, vocals, synthesizer), Hector Mota (guitar, vocals, percussion), Rai Accioly (guitar, vocals) and Nichollas Jaques (drums, percussion) who all came from various musical backgrounds including punk rock, thrash metal and doom metal. Their mission is to do to metal what Brazilian musician Edu Lobo did to traditional Brazilian music in the 1970s. Inspirations include not only Magma and Mastodon but Edu Lobo himself who performed traditional bossa nova and a style called MPB, short for short for música popular brasileira, is a loosely defined genre that formed in the mid-1960s as a modernised version of bossa nova and samba-canção which adopted foreign styles of music.

Add to those formidable influences, King Crimson styled progginess adds an extra helping of tight-knit time signature workouts. The band sings exclusively in Portuguese so therefore one could conclude that PAPANGU implements the zeuhl rhythmic drive of Magma, the metal intensity of Mastodon, the prog rock overdrive of King Crimson and melds it all with the immediacy of traditional Brazilian musical styles heard especially in the lyrical deliveries. HOLOCENO is listed as a concept album but i have no friggin clue as to what that may be about since my Portuguese is rather weak as far as understanding it spoken or sung.

Given these opposing influences on board it might sound like a tall order to fill but PAPANGU manages to keep the songs diverse with some sounding like “Bacia das Almas” resembling more energetic and heavy carnival music while “Terra Arrasada” taking on a menacing doom metal tone. There are also four guest musicians adding the tones and timbres of extra percussion, minimoogs, saxophones and extra dialogue. Add to that the production is excellent and a remix of "Açougue das Almas” which features Kayo Dot’s Toby Driver in the mixer’s chair is available on some editions as a bonus track.

Well, HOLOCENO pretty much checks off many things i love about adventurous music. It’s proggy, it’s heavy, it’s experimental yet familiar. It’s accessible yet weird as hell. It’s irreverence towards the status quo is high and the passion is on fire! The zeuhl rhythms keep it from spiraling out of control and the highly creative mojo on display keeps it from getting stale. This is really an outstanding example of progressive music that progresses without sacrificing the somewhat ossified terminology that has come into play. Highly recommended for those who love bands like Kayo Dot, King Crimson and even Norway’s Shining. Avant-garde and unusual but chock full of sounds that will remind you of some of your favorites!
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2 months ago
Had this on twice today. Certainly a lot to digest and a fascinating listen.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
2 months ago
Doesn't sound like Magma. It just uses the zeuhl rhythms that Magma created.
ssmarcus wrote:
2 months ago
While I cant say I like Magma very much (don't crucify me, this isn't the prog archives lol) your description of this record totally makes me want to check it out.
Tupan wrote:
2 months ago
The comparison with Som Imaginário it's only my superficial impression by this first listening, Papangu has more influences like you pointed in your review.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
2 months ago
Hey thanks, BitterJalapeno!

@Tupan, yeah this was a great discovery for sure! I probably would've missed it if the artist didn't contact me to review it. I'm glad they did!

Haven't heard Som Imaginario but if they are in the same ballpark as Os Mutantes then i'm interested!

Tupan wrote:
2 months ago
Just listened to it. Amazing. It's like a metal version of Som Imaginário, plus so many other influences.
Tupan wrote:
2 months ago
As a brazilian I feel happy to discover this! Seems to be very interesting.
2 months ago
Always a pleasure reading your reviews Mike. This is a priority on the list now.

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