Exposé Online banner

Exposé Online

Not just outside the box, but denying the existence of boxes.
Covering music from the fringes since 1993.


Tom Penaguin — Tom Penaguin
(Bandcamp aMarxe no#, 2024, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-05-28

Tom Penaguin Cover art

Penaguin is a French composer and multi-instrumentalist who has produced this amazing eponymous album his very first  time out, one on which he sounds like an old pro with a lifetime of composing, recording and producing behind him. To be fair, he was a member of the band Djiin, and did production work and mixing for Orgöne, both psychedelic rock / space rock bands, but it would seem that limited amount of experience alone couldn’t have prepared Penaguin for this endeavor, the music here has no doubt been something he’s been working on for many years. First trained on guitar at a young age, by his mid-teens he had also taught himself drums, organ and piano. By 2020 he had built a full featured analog recording studio in his home and that’s when the work on this album began in earnest; his keyboard arsenal includes Fender Rhodes, Cembalet II, Yamaha YC20, Hohner Pianet, Hohner String Melody, and Moog Matriarch, in addition to Gibson Les Paul and SG, Goya Rangemaster, bass guitar and drum kit. Yes indeed, there are a lot of keyboards on the album’s five tracks, layers and layers of them gracing the ever-energized complex compositions, but the guitar work is powerful as well and the rhythm section supports it all well. There are no vocals. The first album side contains two tracks, the first “The Stove Viewpoint Introduction” offers an experimental sound collage piece that ends up taking shape on keyboards by the piece’s conclusion just shy of three minutes before it flows seamlessly into “Housefly Leg,” the main event on side one of the LP, clocki ng in at nearly fifteen minutes, going anywhere and everywhere, shifting gears effortlessly as it proceeds forward – there are many parts to this complex puzzle and they are all nothing short of excellent. Of the rich keyboard work, one might be reminded of Pat Strawser and his band Volaré, or perhaps even take you all the way back to Dave Stewart and National Health, even Soft Machine; the guitar work has more than occasionally reminded of Frank Zappa, and that undercurrent bass solo around the twelve minute mark is nothing short of mindblowing. Like the first side, the three cuts on side two  seem to all connect together. opener “Aborted Long Piece No2” is informed by some classical ideas, while “Arrival of the Great Hedgehog” at just over nine minutes seems to be the centerpiece of this album side, adorned with some beautiful soaring guitar work. Closing the album is “The Stove Packed Up and Left,” another seven-plus minutes of multi-part twisting and turning graced with beautiful keyboard sounds. This debut album is brilliant, beginning to end, and I can’t wait to hear what Penaguin comes up with next.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Tom Penaguin

More info


What's new

These are the most recent changes made to artists, releases, and articles.