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on 17 February 2014
I heard a phrase recently, that music is what feelings sound like. Music from Penguin Cafe (Orchestra) fits this phrase perfectly, with beautiful emotive tracks. Arthur and his refreshed group continue to evolve the wonderful work of his father, creating an album that has a perfect blend of both the Penguin Cafe sound, and something new. The album starts with Aurora, a strident track of piano and strings (a version of which has been orchestrated for an orchestra of NASA space scientists, and then beamed into space!). Solaris continues in a similar vein of piano and strings, but with a gentler feel. Arthur mentioned at one of their live concerts that it's music to accompany a sunrise, and that sums it up perfectly. Black Hibiscus is a playful take on Chopin's Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor, morphing from a simplified original to something a lot more Latin American. Bluejay continues that playful sound, with a happy track set against an unusual time signature. Radio Bemba, Cuban for "word of mouth", is another jolly track that mixes up Latin American and African sounds, again playing around with the time signature. Catania has a quieter sound, and perhaps like the two preceding tracks, evokes that familiar Penguin Cafe sound. 1420 is another track that was beamed into space. 1420MHz represents the resonant frequency of Hydrogen on the electromagnetic spectrum, and connects back to SETI and the famous Wow! signal. In the track 1, 4, 2 and 0, are represented as notes that are played by various instruments, and blended into the track. And Yet... returns to a more classic sound, with some beautiful phrasing by the strings. Moonbo is a jauntier more strident track with more of a focus on the violins and viola. Odeon continue the jaunty feel with more of a mix of instruments, with an interesting blend of genres. The final track, (The Roaring of a) Silent Sun, has echoes of Wildlife (that haunting triangle!) and is a gentle ending to play out the album. Overall a truly wonderful album, with a range of styles that thankfully still refuse to be pigeonholed.
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on 26 February 2014
I have been listening to this CD solidly since it's arrival, and there is little doubt that it is a grower. Still, I must confess that despite my appreciation of the Red Book, there is no escaping a nagging and persistent tug of disappointment. This is a good album, but not (in my opinion) a great one. In deed, if I could do half-stars under this review system it would be a 3.5 out of 5.
Of course the son of Penguin Cafe is a different beast to the original orchestra, and that is how it should be. I don't mind the more intense, introverted and predominantly post-classical style that Jeffes Jnr is pursuing over the playful, folk/world fusions of the original outfit, but I do miss the melodies and hooks. This album has even less of the latter than the first new-look 'Penguin Cafe' record of a couple of years back.
As such, the Red a Book is a strong mood piece, but one very much in need of a melodic jolt. Buy it by all means, but don't expect the kind of joyful abandonments of yore. This really is a very different type of cafe, one that is far more muted.
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on 25 October 2014
After a couple of listens I love this. Good as any of the old Penguin Cafe albums.
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on 29 March 2014
Jeffes senior had a more funny , minimalistic approach to music. Jeffes Junior is more chamber music sounding. More classic than experimental. Maybe is the cello presence that gives a kind of uniform sound to all the tracks. I miss somehow the early humor of the orchestra and its wider range of sounds and styles.
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on 6 March 2014
As we all know , very sadly the original proprietor of the Penguin Café (Simon Jeffes) passed away in 1997 , at which time the doors to the Café closed, as we thought never to re-open. Fortunately for us his son Arthur Jeffes has thrown the doors wide and is serving up delicious tunes using most of the same ingredients but adding his own twist and flare- as is only right and proper. This is the 2nd studio album from the re-born Penguin café (note they are no longer the Penguin café Orchestra) and its great to hear this new version moving forward whilst at the same time retaining a lot of what made the original PCO unique and special. it is maybe not as "catchy" as the original stuff but I would say there is enough here to keep fans of the original PCO (like me) happy , but with the chance to hear something new and exciting. In summary, if you liked the original PCO you can buy this with confidence that you're going to love it. If you're new to the band (or indeed the original PCO) but have always wondered what it would sound like if you put world music, folk music and chamber music into a big pot and gave it a stir, now is your chance to find out . All in All, I love this CD and recommend it to anybody with open ears to go out , buy and enjoy :-)
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on 28 December 2015
I saw Penguin Cafe in Oxford with Ludovico Einaudi and brought back many memories of the original format in the eighties with Simon Jeffes. His son Arthur does a magnificent job and I love the originalityof this group and how much they care about music.
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on 22 April 2014
This is a good addition to the Penguin Cafe collection and is clearly recognisable as by the group. It starts slowly then the music builds track by track throughout the album.
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on 11 April 2014
Always impressive
This group never fails to deliver a consistent high level of beautiful tunes. I am forever indebted to Arthur for keeping the cafe open.
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on 4 March 2014
We're so glad the penguins are still making their brilliant lovely music! Life wouldn't be the same without them! Definitely going to see them live when we can. If you like PCO then buy Red Book, sit back, crank up the volume and enjoy! Even my Mrs likes it! & she's as hard to please as someone who's very hard to please.
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on 1 April 2014
This is an okay release from Penguin Cafe, but, I suppose fairly logically, it lacks the quirkiness that Simon Jeffes brought to his compositions.

The late genius' son is working hard to preserve and develop the Penguin Cafe sound, and there is no questioning the quality of the playing. It's just that this is a sort of light classical album, not Penguin Cafe, in my view.
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