8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Penguin Cafe Orchestra (Audio CD)Appropriately enough, when describing Penguin Café Orchestra's self-titled offering, a useful metaphor would be a warm cup of gourmet coffee: rich, complex and deep, yet also immediately enjoyable, soothing and invigorating.
This is just as well, as choosing adjectives to directly describe this album is a far trickier task. On one level, it is a very jolly affair and thoroughly pleasant. However, this conjures a twee and lightweight image that does not at all suit the music. The complex interplay of rhythms, married to a shopping list of instruments and styles, makes this a far more interesting prospect than any `chill-out' moniker could hope to cover, yet it is undoubtedly a thoroughly relaxing and cheerful listen.
`Experimental' is another word that applies well, yet carries its own unwelcome and unfitting baggage. There is nothing dry and fusty about the experiments carried out on this record - the best example being the self-explanatory `Telephone And Rubber Band'. On paper it is a dreadful idea, but a clever application of strings lifts what could have been tiresome mucking about and transforms it into a deeply enjoyable and catchy little ditty.
Even standard genre terminology fails to truly capture the essence of the music. PCO's acoustic instrumental creations are at once folk, pop, classical and other things besides. This may suggest to some that they lack focus, but there is nothing wayward about these tracks. Instead, they all feel like part of a greater whole, each stamped clearly with the group's musical identity.
Possessing both lightness and substance, this is truly an album that has its cake and eats it. With a cup of coffee on the side. Possibly.