Penza Penza: Alto E Primitivo [Album Review]

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Penza Penza
Alto E Primitivo
Funk Night Records [2024]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Album Overview: Penza Penza, easily described as Misha Panfilov and his talented friends, is a musical project that has just released its fourth LP. Panfilov, the mastermind behind the group, is renowned for his eclectic approach to music with several current monikers behind his name, blending various genres to create unique soundscapes. This project brings together a talented ensemble of musicians who share a passion for experimental and genre-blending music, recorded last year at a private party in Funchal, Portugal, and a festival in Tallinn, Estonia. Over the years, Penza Penza has gained a reputation for their innovative sound and Alto E Primitivo falls right in line.

Alto E Primitivo is a captivating album that showcases Penza Penza’s ability to fuse different musical elements into a cohesive and engaging record. This time, we hear the most rocking, jam-based compositions from the group, which are short and concise with a total of 14 tracks. Released under the Detroit-based label Funk Night Records, this album takes listeners on a head-nodding trip through various musical landscapes, each track offering something new and exciting that will jump from your speakers. This album stands out and harkens back to Penza Penza’s 2020 beginnings with its more forward creative use of guitar and the seamless, fun integration of different styles. Alto E Primitivo could easily be their best album to date!

Musical Style: The album Alto E Primitivo features a rich blend of genres, characterized by its distinctive and immersive sound. The music is anchored in a deep groove, with layers of intricate guitar work, dynamic percussion, and soulful rhythms. The tracks often incorporate elements of psychedelia, garage rock, and funk, creating a unique auditory experience that is both nostalgic and fresh.

Evolution of Sound: With Alto E Primitivo, Penza Penza continues to push the boundaries of their musical exploration. The album marks a progression from their earlier work, with more refined production, shorter focused tracks, and a deeper exploration of their musical influences. The tracks exhibit a maturation in their sound, with more concise complex arrangements and a greater emphasis on atmospheric elements that just jam!

Artists with Similar Fire: Fans of Penza Penza’s Alto E Primitivo might find similarities with artists such as Khruangbin, known for their genre-blending style and rich, instrumental soundscapes. Other comparable artists include The Budos Band, with their strong rhythmic foundation and use of brass instruments, and even King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, known for their diverse musical influences and experimental approach.

Pivotal Tracks: Several tracks on Alto E Primitivo stand out as key moments in the album. “Wacky” features a great rolling horn that bounces throughout the track, while “Pterodactyl” showcases a hip fuzz to their guitar that brings a new edge with its distortion. “Midnighter” provides a bit of a break from the rock with its deeper, more introspective soul moment that highlights each player’s skills. “Boo Hoo Boogaloo” is a great name and comes at you with a true heartbeat pulse of all the members’ instruments blasting out at once. Each of these tracks on Alto E Primitivo highlights different aspects of Penza Penza’s musical prowess and contributes to the overall narrative of the album.

Lyrical Strength: Alto E Primitivo primarily focuses on its instrumental compositions. “Much Sharper, More Focused” actually has some distorted lyrics at its conclusion, but they really work into the album as another instrument. The guitar in this record serves as an impactful component of the album, enhancing the overall listening experience without overshadowing its surrounding intricate instrumentation.

Electricolorized (2023)

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Christopher Anthony
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