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4 Sep 2016

Petrus Castrus ‎”Mestre” 1973 + “Ascenção E Queda” 1978 Portugal Prog Rock

Petrus Castrus ‎”Mestre” 1973  Portugal Progressive rock
10 Agosto 1975 - Programa “Bobi”, videoclip de “Mestre”
A year ago I had to write the biography of PETRUS CASTRUS, having only listened their albums a pair of times, but a few days ago I had the chance to buy “Mestre” for a couple of bucks, being that nobody knows them in my country and the store owner was desperate to get rid of the album.

Before the guy noticed the treasure he had, I grabbed the album and for the last two days I have been almost hypnotized by the wonderful music and specially because the excellent lyrics based in the poems by Bocage, Alexandre O'Neill, Ary Dos Santos, Fernando Pessoa and Sophia de Mello Breyner Anderson, adapted to this album as a reaction of the dictatorship that Portugal was suffering for decades.

It’s true that “Mestre” is not as Symphonic as PETRUS CASTRUS second album “Ascenção e Queda”, but the eclectic approach and naïve sound is simply delightful, being that they almost cross all the spectrum of sub-genres existing in the early 70’s, but without the touch of arrogance that we are used in most talented and versatile Prog musicians of those days, as if the band members were not conscious of their real value.

The album is opened by “Mestre” with a simple but effective piano intro followed by very nice vocals in the beautiful Portuguese album, a Psyche Hammond backup makes us return to the wonderful 60’s, something that can be explained in the fact that Portugal was many years behind Europe in musical terms because the illegal Government was unfriendly with Rock. Melancholic and gentle flows from start to end as if this guys were expert musicians and not newbies releasing their debut album.

“Patria Amada” is a radical change, still rooted in the late 60’s but this time incredibly eclectic, because the Keith Emerson style of José Castro blends with the music reminiscent of the late BEATLES, two incompatible styles that blend perfectly in one track. “Porque” starts with a beautiful vocals - piano duet that soon is followed by a soft drumming, the gentle music collisions with the aggressive political oriented lyrics which are only interrupted by piano explosions, this time in the vein of Rick Wakeman, very nice track.

“País Relativo” is another Psyche song with an excellent acoustic guitar work, nothing complex or extremely elaborate, but the beauty of the song relies precisely in the simplicity. At this point I can’t help finding many similarities between PETRUS CASTRUS and the Peruvian band TRAFFIC SOUND, something not so strange being that both countries had a similar realty on those days.

“Macaco” is a short interlude that sends us back to te 20’s with an impeccable Foxtrot performance and works as a preparation for “S.A.R.L.” a magnificent song in a perfect Santana style, the Latin percussion blends perfectly with the aggressive guitar and vocals with a completely Psychedelic Hammond, not precisely original but still very good track.

“Pasargada” starts soft and gentle with a very nice piano used to enhance the vocal work, but this time the lyrics are completely aggressive against the Government, something that makes me wonder why they were banned only for three months, being that not many Dictators use to forgive those who are so clearly against the “status quo”. As the song advances the piano gets more and more strong, making of this song a real gem.

“Velho Avarento” is a classic Rock & Roll song that seems taken from another album, simple but effective.

“Tiuahuanaco” is the name of the next track, something strange because it’s the name of a Peruvian Pre-Inca culture, but at the same time could explain the similarities I mentioned before with a Peruvian band, being that probably they had their eyes and their ears placed in this part of South America.

“Historia do Azul do Mar” is an incredible song with the keyboards sounding as a clavichord, creating a Renaissance atmosphere with very beautiful vocals tha flows gently until the organ retakes the Psychedelic atmosphere, the transition between the first classical oriented section and the aggressive finale is perfectly done, in such way that the listener takes the radical change as something natural.

The album is closed buy the 43 second track “So Mais Nada” that works as a short acoustic guitar and vocals epilog that completes the concept of the album with a touch of nostalgia and suffering.

“Mestre” is a hard to rate album, because it’s not particularly complex or transcendental in the sense we are used to, but the naïve beauty of the music and the intelligent lyrics are enough for me, so four solid stars for a very good album with a distinctive and unique sound….by progarchives…

Band with Castro brothers and Júlio Pereira (who released the albums later: Bota fora - 1975 and Fernandinho vai ao vinho - 1976). Generally, they are considered symphonic prog. However, this album is Art Rock to me. I will say why. Mestre (Lord) is a three stars album in prog terms (Good, but non-essential), because it don’t have long solos nor long symphonic pieces. It’s a good album with short songs speaking about the political context in Portugal. So you have to know the historic context in that time in Portugal before listen this album, specially if you don’t understand portuguese language. Because the lyrics, this album was forbidden by three months by portuguese censorship comission. In fact, the lyrics are very critical and good. And about the style of songs? They are various. The first song, Mestre, begins like: “Lord, nothing new under the sun, nothing just under the skies…” This song clearly is from people from exile. They have also some rock and jazz directed songs: S.A.R.L. (3:19), Velho Avarento (1:26), Pátria amada (4:02), Macaco (1:50). These last two songs remember that old jazz with clarinete from Louis Armstrong and Scott Joplin. País Relativo (4:40), História do azul do mar (2:49), Tiahuanaco (5:53) and Mestre (5:41) are more progressive tracks, with change of styles and some guitar solos. Porque (2:13), Pasárgada (3:28), Só mais nada (0:43) are more soft with keyboards. This last one closes the album singing: “It’s maybe the last day of my life…” So if you like protest songs, but with very intelligent poetry and good music, remember Mestre by Petrus Castrus. … .by progarchives… 

Line-up / Musicians

- Pedro Castro / bass guitar, 6-string guitar, 12-string guitar, vocals, chorus, kazoo
- José Castro / piano, xylophone, vocals, chorus
- Rui Reis / piano, organ, harpsichord
- Júlio Pereira / electric guitar, 6-string guitar, bass gitar
- João Seixas / drums, percussion
- José Mário Branco / xylophone on “S.A.R.L.”

On 2007 double CD only:
- Urbano Oliveira / drums, percussion on “Agente Altamente Secreto” and “Pouca Terra”
- Pedro Wallenstein / bass guitar on Agente “Altamente Secreto”
- Luís Filipe Castro / electric guitar on “Seita Violenta”

Side 1
1. Mestre (5:47)
2. Pátria Amada (4:02)
3. Porque (2:21)
4. País Relativo (4:49)
5. Macaco (1:52)

Side 2
6. S.A.R.L. (3:24)
7. Pasargada/Saudades do Rio Antigo (3:38)
8. Velho Avarento (1:29)
9. Tiahuanaco (5:58)
10. História do Azul do Mar (2:54)
11. Só Mais Nada (0:47)

Bonus tracks on CD 1 of 2007 double CD edition:
12. Agente Altamente Secreto (4:43)
13. Pouca Terra (3:30)

CD 2 - MORTE ANUNCIADA DUM TAXISTA OBESO (on 2007 double CD edition)
1. Sonhar com Leões (3:00)
2. Não cobiçarás (a mulher do próximo) (2:47)
3. Toni, o Estripador (3:22)
4. Quando o Challenger explodiu (3:20)
5. A verdade desportiva (2:17)
6. Dedo no gatilho (3:14)
7. Urgência Hospitalar (3:00)
8. Amor e Ódio (1:23)
9. Seita Violenta (3:52)
10. Perder um Filho (1:55)
11. Esperança de Vida (Idade Mérdea) (2:41)
12. Chamei por Ti (3:25)
13. Cervantes Não Existe (3:03)
14. Morte Anunciada Dum Taxista Obeso (5:21)
15. Saudades dum Chato (4:54)
16. Confesso que Errei (2:59) 
Petrus Castrus ‎ “Ascenção E Queda” 1978 Portugal Progressive rock 
01. A Chegada Are the winds of change? Or would the new wind? The disc starts with a good piano leading a beautiful melody and a voice very interesting. Totally exciting, with the sensational piano melodies, amid some seagulls sing at the bottom of the track. It is very good to hear Progressive Rock in the native language Portuguese, has a special sound. It is a great balcony that divide the two brothers each verse. When the whole band enter the parade is already won. The bottom line of Pedro Castro is very good. In the second part of the song it becomes more lively and full of beautiful melodies and lyrics are remarkable.

02. A Revolta A voice ad infinitum as I usually call the song starts (those without truce between the phrases). Footprint and a nice pop on the band, also embedded with beautiful keyboards and vocals overlapping without equal. A confusion of words and crazy. Around the piano giving space to the vein of the symphonic band and to Jose Castro (if I am not mistaken) to sing with his voice hoarse.

03. Ascenção This track is an example of Progressive well done, very beautiful and melodic, the vocals are excellent on all points. Filled with keyboards orchestrated, good parts of the battery and the participation of Urban Oliveira Helena Waters on vocals. All tracks of the first side are composed of two parts, the second track that is full of passages jazz / rock sensational.

04. Declínio E Ruptura The clove leaves one with the music to sound more sensational, more should be used by other bands. Who is participating in the band on vocals and Nuno Rodrigues Rui Serrão the bottom. Enter into a dialogue scene in the band, a true mini-rock opera with very good bass lines.

05. Indecisão E Demência Battery almost a schedule to the On The Run (Pink Floyd), a line of low excellent line and a beautiful voice. Following a beautiful guitar solo is a song is more melodic and calm. From now on nearly half a carnival / circus, with an instrumental passage well arranged and with a special synthesizer surrounding all spaces. Following the guitar gives the tone for coming into contact with the beauty again. Almost a tango at the end with strangers’ attack ‘of a guitar and drums and also abnormal.

06. Queda The voice that already excellent start to the song. Interpretation as the entire disk. After an instrumental introduction and all broken Yezda Urfa, to finish this part a bit of 'samba’. The second part is good for guitar and piano riffs played together. Sensacional, after things get very emotional lyrics and melody with an animal.

A great disc for Progressive Rock Sinfônico Portuguese, and I said!….. .. .by progarchives… .

Petrus Castrus’ second album finds the Portuguese band presenting a style of progressive rock which relies less on speed and complexity and more on sophistication and atmosphere, with the stately piano work of José Castro being particularly responsible for this sound. Indeed, if I were to compare this with the work of any other progressive artist, I’d have to raise the spectre of the Enid, whose work from this era has a similarly romantic feel to it. Not your typical twiddly-diddly "let’s see how crazy we can get these time signatures” prog rock album, but a truly original sound which doesn’t deserve to linger in obscurity … . .by progarchives… .

Having bought “Mestre” by PETRUS CASTRUS a few days ago, decided to go back my old vinyl collection in search for “Ascenção e Queda” (Rise and Fall), but the poor LP was scratched that made it unable to be listened, so made a visit to my rarities store and found a copy of the CD with some extra bonus tracks,.

The problem is that when the owner noticed I was searching for the specific CD, he asked me 30 bucks (the same guy sold me “Mestre” for US$ 2.99 a few days ago), after some negotiations I got it in 15 bucks, a good price for a very good album.

“Ascenção e Queda” is a Symphonic conceptual album, very close to the Rock Opera format, that tells a story about the hopes of the people in a fictional new politician of an obscure nation that after some times becomes a new dictator, from his arrival to his decline.

The album starts with “A Chegada” (The arrival), which begins with the noise of wind, as announcing the storm that is going to come, a soft piano works as background for the vocals in form of narration, which describes the arrival of the dictator, full of promises and hopes,. The piano is the constant from start to end, around the middle the music starts to grow in intensity as announcing a explosion, but it softens again, leading to a second narration. It’s only about the fifth minute when the rest of the band joins in an extremely beautiful passage where the keyboards and drums take the lead and simply delightful vocal contra punt completes the scene.

“A Revolta” (A Revolution) stats a lighter and mainstream oriented track which describes the moment in which the new politician receives the support of some sectors of te people and hw the face the old regime, fast and confusing at the beginning, but suddenly a piano section puts order to the chaos, the vocals are outstanding, full of emotion and sensibility, then the track enters to a very Prog section where José Castro starts to play with the possibilities of his keyboard, very interesting track, full of contrasts and variations.

“Ascenção” (Rise) is darker and melancholic, a beautiful female chorus adds a haunting sound. The new politician takes the power and people believe in h9is promises. The track is again full of changes and keyboard effects, but always keeping the pompous and martial atmosphere. Again excellent keyboard work by José Castro.

“Declinio e Ruptura” (Decline and rupture) is an acoustic track that describes the moment when the new President starts to behave as a dictator and begins to loose the support of the people. Again in form of narration, with interesting dramatic sections that suddenly explode in frantic passages and melodic sections, great work.

“Indecisão e Demência” (Indecision and Madness) is one of the strongest tracks, starts very influenced by PINK FLOYD, but suddenly changes into a beautiful and melodic 100% Symphonic song, where as usual the vocal work is outstanding, two male voices that collision with the softer and haunting range of Helena Águas.

But what impressed me more is the number of radical changes that this band can offer on each track, it would be amazing for any band to keep the coherence, but they seem to have no problem, everything has a place and a reason.

“Queda” (Fall) starts with a repetition of words “He’s mad, his mad, he was always mad”, mixed with rants and complains against the tyrant, while a frantic drum keeps the tense atmosphere alive. Suddenly a Greek influenced Harp marks a radical change, but again the frantic section re-starts over and over, as if the Governor regains control and looses it again, but each time the calmed sections are shorter, a perfect musical description of the situation.

Again without warning a strong explosion is heard and the song turns into melodic and nostalgic, as if announcing the end of the tyranny and a new start, just to begin the cycle again.

As usual I won’t talk about the bonus tracks “Bananeira” and “Seis e Meia da Tarde” which are good, but have no place in a conceptual album that was released to tell a story, not to find a place for forgoten songs, which are pretty good but not wrote by the author to be part of this album.

Excellent album that deserves far more popularity, good for any listener who doesn’t care for lyrics in foreign language……. .…by progarchives… .

José Castro — keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
Pedro Castro — bass, guitar, vocals
Urbano Oliveira — drums
Fernando Girão — guitar
Rui Serrão — bass
Lena d’Água — vocals
Nuno Rodrigues — vocals

01. A Chegada — 7:03
02. A Revolta — 5:06
03. Ascenção — 6:02
04. Declínio E Ruptura — 6:15
05. Indecisão E Demência — 7:11
06. Queda — 7:21
07. A Bananeira (Single A-Side, 1974) — 2:36
08. Seis E Meia Da Tarde (Single B-Side, 1974) — 4:53

Portugal is not an easy country to get information from, especially because during the 70’s when PETRUS CASTRUS was formed this Iberian country was under a dictatorship that was not very fond on freedom of speech, and this guys didn’t fell under the category of political correct. The fact that their first and better album has never been upgraded t
o CD and the second one just recently makes even harder the search for their material.Petrus Castrus is an interesting Symphonic band formed 1971 by brothers Jose (Keyboards, bass, vocals) and Pedro Castro (Vocals, guitars, bass), who recruited Julio Pereira (Guitars) and Rui Reiss (Organ) ex members of a band called Play Boys and João Seixas on drums, the name of the band is the latin translation of Pedro Castro.During this first era they were heavily influenced by Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, The Nice and even Pink Floyd, despite the fact that their inspiration is very eclectic, their sound id very close to early British Symphonic, mostly ELP.The band signed a contract with the producer Valentim de Carvalho and recorded two EP’s “Marasmo” e “Tudo isto, Tudo mais” which were well received by the critic, after this releases they signed with a new born label called Sassetti.With this label they released their first LP “Mestre” in 1973, considered one of the best albums of all Portuguese Prog history that I had the luck to listen a couple of times. Due to the controversial lyrics based in poems by Bocage, Alexandre O’Neill, Ary dos Santos, Fernando Pessoa and Sophia de Mello Breyner Anderson that are a statement against the Dictatorship, “Mestre” was banned for three months by the Censorship Commission, it’s even harder to understand why they weren’t completely banned, rumors say they had some strong influences in the Government circles, this album is not available on CD.After this debut album they release a third single called “A Bananeira” still a satirical criticism to the Government, but brothers Castro tired of censorships and temporal banning of their music decide to end the band and leave Portugal to study until 1976. This new incarnation of PETRUS CASTRUS recorded their second album “Ascenção e Queda” (Rise and Fall) released in 1978, a conceptual album much more Symphonic oriented but still very naïve, the concept is about the hopes of the people in a fictional new politician of an obscure nation that after some times becomes a new dictator. The critic was hard with this album, but very appreciated outside Portugal. “Ascenção e Queda” is the only PETRIS CASTRUS album released in CD by a Korean label in 2001.There is not much more to say about this band after “Ascenção e Queda” only was able to find that they released two more singles “Cândida” and “Agente Altamente Secreto”, made a couple of tours and simply vanished from the Portuguese scenario in 1980. Iván Melgar Morey - Peru
From ProgArchives
Extremely rare Portoguese Psych/folk/prog LP.Grab it!One of the best Portoguese prog LPs…by progarchives…… 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..







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