27 May 2022

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Pencarrow - Album Review: Live At San Fran

08 Feb 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

One of the (dis)advantages of writing about music for so many years is that it is not unusual for other writers to contact me about bands/albums they feel I should be aware of. So it was, that not long after the release of Wellington band Pencarrow’s second album Growth In The Absence of Light a mate of mine in Norway contacted me to ask me if I had heard it? I hadn’t, but it was soon on my review list, and I loved it. The guys then managed to undertake a tour to support it and I was fortunate enough to catch them at Dead Witch, with that show making it into my Top Ten best gigs of the year. Needless to say, I was incredibly pleased when it turned out they recorded some of the shows and were releasing a live album. As can be derived from the title, the album is mostly taken from San Fran but there was a shorter set that night so there are also three songs from The Crown in Dunedin.

Musically the only way to think of these guys are as a progressive rock band, and then depending on what section of what song they are playing they can then be further described as post rock, prog metal, atmospheric, ambient etc. Even though they are just a quartet they have a wide array of sounds at their disposal and see nothing strange at all in going from the dripping piano of Memory Terminal which is less than 2 minutes into the riff hungry At Last, Omniscience at more than 16. They deliver atmospheric progressive music that also contains elements of metal when the time is right, bringing together Anathema, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief, and others. There is delicacy, but inside there is a core of steel, so it never feels as if the music is meandering, rather there is real purpose and direction.

The guys are quite happy undertaking long instrumental sections, and Tonnie ten Hove is a better guitarist than he is a singer, but in the moment it all feels right. Drummer Justin Chorley and 5-string bassist Elton Halford somehow always manage to keep everything moving in the right direction in what is a constantly changing soundscape, while keyboard player Anthony Rose is happy providing support with long held-down chords or taking dynamic leads either on synths or piano. This is music, which is constantly changing, always on the move looking for the next direction. If they were playing in London then I am convinced that Pencarrow would be a well-known name within the prog world, but as it is they are currently our little secret, but if they keep going like this, they are not going to be a secret for very much longer.

This is an album for those who want their progressive music to be truly as such, and not yet another regressive outfit attempting to sound like the others have gone before as while one can see influences, they never stay still long enough to say they are like someone else. One for progheads to discover
Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Pencarrow

Pencarrow is a four-piece prog band from Wellington, New Zealand, combining diverse musical backgrounds and influences to create adventurous and thought provoking music.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Pencarrow


Live At San Fran
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Growth In The Absence of Light
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Dawn Simulation
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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