INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Wondering Sound MAY 18, 2011 - by Richard Gehr
PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA: MUSIC FROM THE PENGUIN CAFE
A beautifully updated take on Johann Pachelbel's baroque compositions
One of the more popular releases on Brian Eno's experimental Obscure label, Music From The Penguin Cafe is the 1976 debut of composer-multi-instrumentalist Simon Jeffes's Penguin Cafe Orchestra. While suffering from food poisoning in the south of France, Jeffes feverishly imagined "wild, free, mountain people creating sounds of a subtle dreamlike quality." Thus inspired, his music for electric guitar, cello, electric piano and violin sounds like a beautifully-updated take on Johann Pachelbel's baroque compositions.
Although it clocks in at Hey Jude length, Penguin Cafe Single is an evocative classical gas of a tune, and a perfect miniature of Jeffes's spiritual sensibility. It sets the scene for ZOPF, a seven-part invention with at least two sections - From The Colonies (For N.R.) and In A Sydney Hotel - that bear more than a faint resemblance to Eno himself. The latter especially, with its Japanese evocation of a "double suicide," resembles an Another Green World outtake. At nearly twelve minutes, The Sound Of Someone You Love Who's Going Away And It Doesn't Matter extends a sweet, simple melody to just the point of diminishing returns. Jeffes's lovely yet limited bag of tricks only threatens to wear out its welcome around the time Chartered Flight takes off.