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Petrus Castrus - Ascenção E Queda CD (album) cover


Petrus Castrus

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars Portugal is not a very Progressive Rock country (I know this, i'm portuguese), but every now and then you catch a glimpse of something grand, or at least good. I am far too young too understand what it was to listen to this album when we had Mr. Salazar in charge, but I can still enjoy what is a very nice album. It was one of th many LPs that my father left me whn he passed away, and so it has a certain meaning for me. Musicaly speaking, it has some quality, although it is very primitive and sometimes it gets too lyrical, like speaking with the music in the back. I think that side A is way much better than side B, although the ending is my favourite part. Nice use of Arp Odissey.
Report this review (#84552)
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Really good album.

Quite original concept, with a good use of piano, arp odissey/omni and "cravo".

The two bonus tracks on Korean Limited Edition were taken from the single "A Bananeira" (1974), one of the very first examples of prog in Portugal, alongside with "Cantamos Pessoas Vivas" (from Quarteto 1111, 1974).

The line-up for "A Bananeira" included, besides the Castro brothers, João Seixas (Drums), Alain Mechoulan (Organ), Hugo Coutinho (Electric Viola) and Rui Reis (Piano).

By the way, Guerssen Records will edit "Cantamos Pessoas Vivas" very soon! Another obscure prog masterpiece sees the light of day!

Report this review (#123387)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 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.

Four stars.

Report this review (#178433)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 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!

Report this review (#196937)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best rock album ever recorded in Portugal, better even than the brilliant works produced by José Cid during the same decade. "Ascenção e Queda" is a real Opera, that dives deeper into that sort of musical framework that any other rock recording I know of. For each character there is a different melody in each different act, each one special in some way, really recreating the changing scenes you would get in a live thetrical representation. The quality of the recording itself is the best possible at the time with great performances from musicians and especially singers.

Unfortunatelly this outstanding record has been largely forgotten and so far hasn't got the recognition it devserves. In first place because the listener must really understand the lyrics to fully grasp the density of the record; those don't speak Portuguese are thus left at loss. And secondly because the record has been largely neglected by whomever owns printing rights. A physical copy has become prohibitivly expensive in CD format; I am yet to see a vynil copy for sale but I would expect it to go for several thousand euros.

Indespensible in any symphonic rock collection.

Report this review (#1085228)
Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars 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
Report this review (#1128716)
Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nº 202

"Ascensão E Queda" is the second and last studio album of Petrus Castrus and was released in 1978. The line up on the album is Pedro Castro, José Castro and Urbano Oliveira. The album had also the participation of Nuno Rodrigues, Helena Águas, Rui Serrão and Fernando Girão, as guest musicians.

Formed in 1971, Petrus Castrus was led by brothers Pedro Castro and José Castro. They recruited Júlio Pereira, Rui Reis and João Seixas and began to practice music near to the symphonic progressive rock vein. They released their debut album entitled "Mestre", which now is considered one of the best Portuguese prog albums of all time. The album consists of songs with poems of Bocage, Alexandre O'Neill, Ary dos Santos, Fernando Pessoa and Sophia de Mello Breyner Anderson. The fact that they recorded these poets cost them the confiscation of the album for three months by the infamous Commission of Censorship. Shortly after recording the album, in 1974, the band suspended their activity. In 1976 the band returned the activities with a new LP titled "Ascensão E Queda", this time as a trio, released in 1978.

Since the revolution of 1974 that finished with the Censorship, the air smelled of freedom. It was a moment of glory for all singers and songwriters, especially for those who had been banned from air-waves, recording studios and live stages. So, it was in this context that the brothers composed a conceptual album, much in vogue among their Anglo-Saxon counterparts at the time, dealing with the contradictions, the irony and irrationality of the games of power, and the ephemeral quality of ideologies. However, for the new powers at the time, on what the majority's feelings, owners of a newly conquered, unshakable faith in the utopia of freedom and popular power, this felt like a blasphemy. The LP edition was of course allowed, but it was never given any promotion and the "enlightened" music critics at the time demolished it completely. Probably, they considered it a "Reactionary Work". The attitude of social satire, always associated with the band and assumed by them, had nothing to do with the musical proposals that arose in the post-revolution, in which one tried to say at once through the so-called intervention music. In reality, it happened to the album the same has happened with "Onde, Quando, Como, Porquê Cantamos Pessoas Vivas" of Quarteto 1111.

"Ascensão E Queda" has a magnificent allegory. This album's audition is read like a movie soundtrack, with its six tracks sub-divided into several themes each, filled with unpredictable changes. It has an underlying symphonic progressive rock vibe fed by José Castro with his arsenal of analog keyboards, electric piano and ARP's plus harpsichord and acoustic piano. But it's also a tasteful hodge-podge brimming with ideas, a bit in a Gentle Giant's spirit. It comes to my mind "The Power And The Glory" mainly because the concept, though not in style, and which may can require some repeated listening, since it has the attributes of a continuous grower in us. Although, not obligatory, a minimal understanding of the language may help very well, since the lyrics are also in Portuguese, as on "Mestre".

Musically, the synthesizer's sound effects and sounds of seagulls and sea waves may embellish simple piano and vocal themes, mellotron washes back complex textures of multilayered vocal lines in Renaissance's ambiences. Petrus Castrus enlisted the services of Helena Águas, at the time the best rock vocalist in Portugal, capable of a Annie Haslam like style, for mermaid like calls on foggy nights of dramatic minor chords sequences. Rock and jazzy groves with tasty guitar work, harpsichord driven Baroque passages backed by shimmering 12-strings acoustics, folksy acoustic guitar driven parts, and martial bass & piano themes shaken by Urbano Oliveira powerful drum rolls or brisk funky inflected grooves backing a web of miscellaneous vocal melodies. Nuno Rodrigues, one of the founding members of another of the best Portuguese progressive bands, Banda Do Casaco, and Fernando Girão also guest on some tracks as vocalist, contribute to make of this oeuvre a parallel exquisite and vocal heavy experience, in the style of a true rock opera.

Conclusion: "Ascenção E Queda" is a very beautiful album of the Portuguese prog with its very own atmosphere that provides for a good and a varied entertainment. It can be placed somewhere between Italian and British prog but with a special flavor that makes it as original and strong as any Brazilian, Argentinean or Scandinavian 70's landmark albums in the genre. Petrus Castrus' second album is not a jaw dropping, hyper complex progressive music but rather a more subdued effort, where the focus is on melody and album conception. So, this album became an excellent Portuguese progressive rock album with a very distinctive and unique sound. Unfortunately, the band still has recorded two more singles and has given some live concerts, but suddenly disappeared. Although "Ascensão E Queda" was a commercial failure and was devastated by the critic of the time, today this album is sought, mainly by the collectors of progressive rock music. It has been object of a reissue by a South Korean record label. Luckily, it seems they weren't forgotten.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2024674)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2018 | Review Permalink

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