The Penguin Cafe Orchestra has always fascinated me as a group. Their eccentric take on music, which blends pop melodies with weirder fringe experimentation, has always been a huge influence on me.
Many of the tracks have a childlike sense of wonder to them; an openness to try things that many would be too afraid to try. And yet by doing so, many of the tracks resonate with my emotions on a fundamental level.
“The Sound Of Someone You Love Who’s Going Away And It Doesn’t Matter” is a track that perfectly encapsulates their ability to tap into your emotions. No percussive instrumentation is used throughout (although a hollow body guitar is tapped in a rhythm for a small section). Instead, this instrumental features a few electric guitars, a bass guitar, an electric piano and violins, which interweave to create a piece that’s both wistful and regretful:
The group Penguin Cafe Orchestra have a fond place in my heart. Their innovative mix of folk and experimental music is always full of the boisterousness of life. This is down to the vision of Simon Jeffes, who’s talents and playfulness come out in every track.
Music For A Found Harmonium is one of their most well known tracks and a perfect example of what makes the music special. The story goes that Simon Jeffes found a Harmonium on the streets of Kyoto during a tour in Japan. He moved it into a friend’s house, and over a few weeks created this piece. Without the story it would still be a great song, but with that knowledge the listener can really hear how the piece reflects it.
It manages to be full of jollity but also has a naivety that captures the feeling of adventure; the excitement and trepidation of visiting new places, going out of your comfort zone, and living life to its fullest. Through his music Simon Jeffes shows us that he did just that and captured it for prosperity and our enjoyment.
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