Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Penguin Café - A Matter Of Life

An album review for Beat magazine, originally published in issue #1304

Penguin Café - A Matter Of Life (Independent, 2011)

Embracing the torch passed down from his father Simon, Arthur Jeffes carries on the musical legacy laid out by his dad’s own musical collective Penguin Café Orchestra. Though he drops the ‘orchestra’ label, Jeffes Jr.’s own instrumental compositions are no less lush or collaborative. Even without a background in the typically highbrow realm of modern classical, A Matter of Life’s minimalist styling is completely accessible, and is its greatest strength.

Album opener
That, Not That picks up eighteen years after where the last album, Union Café, left off. A simple, rhythmic piano urges a soothing cello with its two-note calypso-lite melody that’s one-part New Age relaxation and one-part Philip Glass-styled cyclical composition. It’s a stylistic furrow rarely deviated from for the remainder of the album, albeit enhanced by bubbling percussion (Sundog), sunny Spanish guitar (The Fox and the Leopard, Pale Peach Jukebox) or revelling in pre-Vampire Weekend afro-pop (Ghost In The Pond).

It’s that opening pairing of piano and cello that the album tends to return to though, and while it may lack some of the eccentric daring of his father’s café; this new incarnation commits more rights than wrongs. Not least in resuscitating one of the more beloved if vastly underrated ensembles of modern music. Here’s looking forward to future material.

Ghost In The Pond by PenguinCafe

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