Penguin Cafe: A Matter of Life ... – review

(Penguin Cafe)

Arthur Jeffes has a difficult problem. He will always be compared to his brilliant and wildly original father, especially as he has bravely set out to continue his dad's musical tradition. With the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Simon Jeffes created some of the most unusual and delightful music of the last 40 years, an "imaginary folk" style that mixed classical and global influences with the patterns and repetition of systems music, with predictably quirky instrumentation. With his Music from the Penguin Cafe project two years ago, Arthur set out to revive those compositions, and now with his Penguin Cafe band he has recorded an album of his own compositions in much the same style. There's nothing here to quite match such PCO classics as Telephone and Rubber Band, Beanfields or Music for a Found Harmonium, but it's an impressive attempt. Many of the pieces are dominated by sometimes heavy-handed piano, and these Penguins are at the best when the instrumentation is more experimental. There's rousing cuatro work on the atmospheric, Latin-influenced Pale Peach Jukebox, upbeat ukulele playing on Two Beans Shaker, and a fine blend of Kathryn Tickell Northumbrian pipes and piano on Landau.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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