Pengo - a nervous splendor

City Newspaper

A Nervous Splendor opens with a prayer bell; a call to the heavens that will remain unanswered. For this outing, Pengo's vinyl debut, the Rochester trio's lingua franca seems to be a combination of any or all of the following: sundry folk instruments, feedback, found recordings, burbling electronics, distortion (of instruments and of the recording itself), infrequent drumming, and post-Beefheart garbled vocals.

The LP's artwork incorporates stolen imagery of mid- to late-1970s Africa and former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. But not all the pieces of the design puzzle fit together perfectly. Without the Charlie Manson namecheck, the full-color jacket could pass as some sort of African Brass Band thing.

The fact that Pengo has managed to piss so many folks off (myself included) is a testament to the band's willingness to forge ahead as major risk takers in a town where burning bridges can mean the end of your musical life. A Nervous Splendor 's highly developed and unique musical language will be shared and enjoyed far outside the most toxic city in America.

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