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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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