Handfuls of Night
by Penguin Cafe
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 qobuz.com
Directed by Des Murphy Order new album ‘Handfuls of Night’ on LP/CD/DL: https://idol.lnk.to/HandfulsofNight Penguin Cafe have revealed the video for their new single ‘Chapter’, taken from the highly anticipated new album ‘Handfuls of Night’, released on October 4 via Erased Tapes. The captivating single-shot video for was filmed in New York on The Roosevelt Island Tramway at Queensboro Bridge and directed by Des Murphy. The use of a city that occupies such a massive part of our cultural imagination, particularly on the silver screen, highlights the track’s vivid filmic feel, as does its inspired adoption of noir tones.
“Chapter is for me one of the big tracks on the album. We got into this mindset where we were creating cinematic story lines for our imaginary penguin protagonists – and this one was a lot of fun to make. There’s a hint of 70’s cop-show about the main motif with the double push in the bass line and we got this idea of a hard-boiled detective-penguin, with a leather jacket and a cool car in New York. The video totally goes with that feel. I love the idea of a familiar landscape being gradually moved into an imaginary, almost dreamlike version of itself – and the slow build in the video hit this exact note.” — Arthur Jeffes
‘Chapter’ is the second piece to be take from Handfuls of Night, the highly anticipated follow-up to Penguin Cafe’s much applauded 2017 album The Imperfect Sea. Released on October 4, this glacial new LP is inspired by Arthur Jeffes’ journey following in the legendary explorer Scott’s footsteps, the Antarctic and our penguin friends that reside there. Penguin Cafe are taking Handfuls of Night around the UK and Japan this autumn before heading out on a worldwide tour in 2020, with more dates to be announced very soon.
Book tickets for the tour: https://www.penguincafe.com/tour-dates