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Petrus Castrus

Symphonic Prog

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Petrus Castrus Marasmo album cover
4.00 | 9 ratings | 1 reviews | 22% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Marasmo (5:39)
2. Ovo de Chumbo (2:44)
3. Batucada Vulgaris (2:59)

Total Time 11:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Pedro Castro / Bass
- José Castro / Keyboards, Vocals
- Rui Reis / Piano, Organ
- Júlio Pereira / Guitars
- Joăo Seixas / Drums
- José Mário / Xylophone

Releases information

EP released by Decca, 1971

Thanks to Kotro for the addition
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PETRUS CASTRUS Marasmo ratings distribution

(9 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PETRUS CASTRUS Marasmo reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The Debut EP

The progressive rock movement took off like wildfire once King Crimson released their epic "In The Court Of The Crimson King" in 1969 and soon thereafter all of Europe followed by the world, would start to experiment with the complexities that were on full display in the sudden popular music that took off. However, this only applied to free countries. Even within Europe there were dictatorships hindering such experimentalism and despite having once been the world's greatest empire and economy, Portugal somehow found its way into the clutches of the tyrant Salazar's rule from 1933 to 1974 when the country was technically considered to be run by a corporatist authoritarian regime which in simpler terms is considered fascism. Due to this small detail in history, Portugal didn't participate in the progressive rock wave that was occurring in other parts of Europe at the same time. Despite that though, the human spirit is strong and similar to the situations in Greece and the communist occupied Eastern European countries of the era, a few determined artists managed to slip through the cracks.

PETRUS CASTRUS was one of those determined bands that formed in 1971 during the reign of the dreaded rule of one of Portugal's darkest chapters and emerged as one of Portugal's very first progressive rock bands. The band was formed by two brothers, Pedro and José Castro but somehow in the spirit of dictatorships, Pedo won the coin toss i guess and the band name was chosen as a Latin translation of his name. Sounds very Roman Empiresque, hmmm. Initially the band consisted of five members with the other members being Júlio Pereira on guitar, Rui Reis on organ and Joāo Seixas on drums. While the band would change things up greatly before their first full-length album "Mestre" in 1973, their debut actually took place with this short EP titled MARASMO (Portuguese for "stagnation" or "apathy") which was a biting political critique of the situation occurring at the time. Due to the state of affairs in the country, as one can imagine, pretty much everything progressive came to a grinding halt and only the most determined individuals would dare to contradict the powers that be.

That brings me to this short but sweet EP that only lasts a mere 11 minutes and 32 seconds but what a bold statement it was. Not only does it display one of the boldest and most in-yer-face album covers that happens to be one of my favorites of rock history but despite its blink of an eye time length, it was quite the political dissidence of the era. It's all in Portuguese and more biting for those who speak the lingo but the titles themselves are quite the political critique. Alongside the title track are two equally polemically titled tracks: "Ovo De Chumbo" (Egg of lead / gunshots) and "Batacuda Vulgaris" (Vulgar dance percussion group?). While the album sounds rather tame by our standards today, it should be emphasized how significant this tiny little historical artifact was at the time and place it was released. It was like the ultimate defiance of power that would be a part of the revolution that overthrew the repressive government only three years after its release.

Musically speaking this is quite subdued symphonic prog mostly by the numbers with influences being derived by the mellower and spacier members of the camp such as Pink Floyd and earlier proto prog bands such as The Nice and Procol Harum but overall the sound of PETRUS CASTRUS reminds me most of the symphonic prog of bands that emerged from Argentina of the 70s ranging from Alas, Magma (not the French band) and Crucis amongst others. The title track remains very keyboard dominated and the Latin based Portuguese language lyrics remind me very much of the pastoral symphonic Italian bands of the same era albeit without the sophistication. At the time in Portugal there was engaged in a catching up game in time and place and the music here very much represents the late 60s style of proto-prog trying to reach 70s European progressive rock heights. While nothing PETRUS CASTRUS ever did reached those high levels of accomplishment, the band was successful in many ways of at least garnering an emotional response to their musical movement and that's what keeps this somewhat relevant even in the modern era.

While the title track was very pastoral and in full mellow mode, "Ovo De Chumbo" reminds me of the progressive folk that Argentinean Sui Generis would pump out late on in the 70s with an acoustic guitar melodic chord dominated riff somewhat rooted in popular music (lasting under three minutes) with a heavy emphasis on keyboard bombast. It ends with a nice guitar solo with a nice tone and bluesy flair. Likewise the third track "Butacuada Vulgaris" is a short little melodic track that has a rather Santana type of rhythmic percussive drive with that famous Carlos Santana guitar accompaniment. Once again the keyboard bombast is in sync with the melody but more ambitious in its classical excursions and note seeking completeness. After the Santana sounding part fades out, a classical piano with an organ counterpoint take the lead for a while but it ultimately bounces back to the Santana-esque style with a heavy emphasis on drumming. Overall, this tiny slice of Portuguese prog may not blow away the uninitiated but somehow i find this to be quite charming with the added knowledge of the history that surrounds it and even without such is a nice groovy crossover prog type of experience.

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