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Ever attempt to Google the word Pengo before? If you have, chances are you found websites dedicated to the video game, information about a form of Hungarian currency, and maybe even a German techno music label.

If you dig a little deeper, you'll find Rochester, New York noisemakers Pengo. Described in their bio as a "four* headed avant/drone/noise/psych hy-dra," figuring out what this band is, isn't an easy task at all. At first listen, Pengo comes off as a bunch of guys with loud amps, and even louder imaginations. Comprised of John Schoen (electronics, saxophone, floor bass & vocals), Jason Finkbeiner (guitar), and Nuuj (electronics and homemade instruments), this band was built to piss some people off. "Some people definitely don't like what we're doing," quips Schoen after beating local traffic one Friday afternoon.

"Sometimes people come (to our shows) and have no idea what to expect and they've really, really dug it because they come with an open mind," he adds. "Sometimes people come to see the other bands, and they just can't stand us at all."

Understanding as to why some might find his band hard to handle, Schoen appears enthusiastically defiant when it comes to Pengo's musical prowess. Preferring to be thought of as a psychedelic act, Schoen and company's anti*mainstream sound is no accident.

When they started off in the summer of 1998, Pengo was a reaction to what was going on in the Rochester scene around them. Seeing that a lot of the bands were relatively the same in sound and delivery, Pengo took a sharp 180. Instead of crafting the typical radio/audience* friendly ditties, they decided to take their instruments and make as much uninhibited noise as possible. "Our music was just this insane, no*wave noise stuff*it was pretty much to piss people off," Schoen remembers. "Then we started slowly making music for ourselves. "When I listen to what we've recorded, it is music that I would like to hear myself. There are a small handful of people in Rochester who are doing 'outsider' music, but for the most part, we're creating in a vacuum here," he elaborates. "There are really no other bands locally that we play with too much."

With so few bands around town to share a bill, Pengo usually winds up waiting for friends from other areas of the world to come around and tour with them. However, the diversity and challenging nature of the band's music has allowed them to play with a wide range of musicians*everyone from jazz artists to Turkish musicians.

As a result, Pengo manage to release a pile of music. When between full*length albums, Pengo treats their fans to homemade CDRs as a way to keep their momentum moving.

Luckily for the Pengo lovers out there, they will be able to get real deal LPs sooner, rather than later. Schoen believes that the band will release three full*length recordings between this fall and February or March of 2006.

In the meantime, Pengo will continue to do what they do best*and that is be as different as they can possibly be, even if that results in a few war wounds. "The thing that bores me the most is when you see a certain style of band and they do exactly everything you've seen a band that style do, over, and over, and over again," Schoen explains. "I'm more into breaking down the whole lexicon of stage performance. "When we began, people would throw bottles, or try to unplug us*but that didn't really bother me. The way I look at it is any reaction is a valid reaction."

Other Reviews of Pengo

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    by Adam Grant

    Ever attempt to Google the word Pengo before? If you have, chances are you found websites dedicated to the video game, information about a form of Hungarian currency, and maybe even a German techno music label. If you dig a...
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    by Martyn C.J Thomas

    [Pengo - Cosmology of the Broken Saints]...not to mention the fact that the best thing I heard this week (if not this year) is an un-mp3-postable two-track live CD-R from Pengo entitled Cosmology of the Broken Saints on...
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    Foxy Digitalis

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    Pengo "Toadstools Amongst the Tombstones" QBICOPengo really do make my favourite kind of music, playful psychedelic music that pushes the boundaries of the genre with a sense of fun and an atmosphere of mystery.For the completely uninitiated 'Toadstools Amongst...
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    Smooth Assailing

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    Nashville Scene

    by Jim Ridley

    Holy Mountain / Show Preview - Kinds of the Rochester NY noise scene -- larger kingdom than you might suppose -- this three-man ensemble most recently recorded a pulsing, clanging suite to accompany the wordless first 31 minutes of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro...
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    Ah, but what do Pengo sound like? On here, they come off as one of the more accomplished contemporary bands playing in that style I'll call The New Ominousness. Alot of noise/psych/improv artists play in this style. I...
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    Chicago Reader

    by Liz Armstrong

    In the past, Pengo 's performances have involved attaching contact mikes to sheet metal, ambling around in costumes made of trash, being strangled by audience members, and playing nose kazoo.
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    Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

    by Jeff Spevak

    Here was the scene a few weeks ago at Monty's Korner: Jason Finkbeiner and Joe Tunis are strumming acoustic guitars to no discernible melody for perhaps 10 minutes, before John Schoen joins in on zither, Tunis abandoning his guitar in favor...
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    by Eddie Flowers

    Pengo reminds me of mid-60's Sun Ra, with an approach that's very modern free-rock spontaneous. Lot's of swells waves surges, tap clatter pling, detuned sound-findin' horn bellowin' cymbal tappin' spaciousness, clatter, and brain damage.
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    RIT Reporter Magazine

    by Ben Gonyo

    Pengo used a drum loop from Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" while they wrenched their guitar strings with metal bars, fists, and the speaker box. Before the guitar-thrashing started, however, they opened with a ten-minute video showing black women...