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Penguin Cafe|Handfuls of Night

Handfuls of Night

Penguin Café

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Using his status as a glam rock icon, Brian Eno launched the label Obscure Records in the mid- 70s, allowing him to bring his most experimental projects to life and introduce his listeners to works by contemporary composers with somewhat discrete audiences (Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Harold Budd…), the British equivalent to the American minimalist movement (Riley, Glass, Reich…). 1976 marked the release of Penguin Café Orchestra’s debut album, a group founded by the British composer Simon Jeffes. After exploring rock and contemporary music, Jeffes became interested in the spontaneous aspect of traditional music. He synthesised these three genres by combining classical instruments (from Europe and elsewhere) with manipulated tapes and electronic accessories, and in doing so defined an energetic, conceptual and light sound.
Penguin Café Orchestra continued for decades, crafting a strong, influential identity right up until Jeffes’ death in 1997. Ten years later, his son Arthur Jeffes, also a composer (Sundog, Aparat), decided to continue his father’s legacy and, by shortening the name, brought Penguin Café back to life. He revisited their original repertoire as well as developing the group’s sound through new inspired compositions. Handful of Nights is the fruit of an expedition to Antarctica, bringing artists and scientists together under the auspices of Greenpeace. Arthur Jeffes was particularly moved by the beautiful scenery. The album begins with the dazzling Winter Sun and ends with the dusky Midnight Sun, two pieces where the piano seems to illustrate the Northern lights. Four pieces were inspired by the behaviour of different types of penguins: Chinstrap, Adelie, The Life of an Emperor and Gentoo Origin. The instruments recreate the birds’ amusing way of waddling, as well as describing the ruffling of their feathers and their splendid environment. Pythagorus on the Line Again is a reworking of one of the tracks from Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s last album, Union Café (1993). Situated somewhere between folktronica, pastoral ambience and updated minimalism, Handful of Nights unveils soothing and stimulating music with the added bonus of promoting ecological awareness. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz

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Handfuls of Night

Penguin Cafe

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1
Winter Sun
00:03:57

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

2
Chinstrap
00:05:48

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

3
Chapter
00:06:43

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

4
Adelie
00:04:07

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

5
At the Top of the Hill, They Stood...
00:05:40

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

6
Pythagoras on the Line Again
00:05:49

Simon Jeffes, Composer - Penguin Café, MainArtist

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

7
The Life of an Emperor
00:04:56

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

8
Gentoo Origin
00:05:32

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

9
Midnight Sun
00:04:07

Penguin Café, MainArtist - Arthur Jeffes, Composer

2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. 2019 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.

Album review

Using his status as a glam rock icon, Brian Eno launched the label Obscure Records in the mid- 70s, allowing him to bring his most experimental projects to life and introduce his listeners to works by contemporary composers with somewhat discrete audiences (Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Harold Budd…), the British equivalent to the American minimalist movement (Riley, Glass, Reich…). 1976 marked the release of Penguin Café Orchestra’s debut album, a group founded by the British composer Simon Jeffes. After exploring rock and contemporary music, Jeffes became interested in the spontaneous aspect of traditional music. He synthesised these three genres by combining classical instruments (from Europe and elsewhere) with manipulated tapes and electronic accessories, and in doing so defined an energetic, conceptual and light sound.
Penguin Café Orchestra continued for decades, crafting a strong, influential identity right up until Jeffes’ death in 1997. Ten years later, his son Arthur Jeffes, also a composer (Sundog, Aparat), decided to continue his father’s legacy and, by shortening the name, brought Penguin Café back to life. He revisited their original repertoire as well as developing the group’s sound through new inspired compositions. Handful of Nights is the fruit of an expedition to Antarctica, bringing artists and scientists together under the auspices of Greenpeace. Arthur Jeffes was particularly moved by the beautiful scenery. The album begins with the dazzling Winter Sun and ends with the dusky Midnight Sun, two pieces where the piano seems to illustrate the Northern lights. Four pieces were inspired by the behaviour of different types of penguins: Chinstrap, Adelie, The Life of an Emperor and Gentoo Origin. The instruments recreate the birds’ amusing way of waddling, as well as describing the ruffling of their feathers and their splendid environment. Pythagorus on the Line Again is a reworking of one of the tracks from Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s last album, Union Café (1993). Situated somewhere between folktronica, pastoral ambience and updated minimalism, Handful of Nights unveils soothing and stimulating music with the added bonus of promoting ecological awareness. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz

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