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PENGUIN CAFE & CORNELIUS: Umbrella EP1

Japanese collaboration adds to the Penguins’ beautiful plumage.

You’d have to be a bit of a bastard to hate penguins, the charmers of the bird-world.

Mind you, even the most determined sphenisciphobe will surely be charmed by Penguin Café’s new four-track EP. The fruit of a collaboration between Arthur Jeffes’ eclectic crew and Japanese producer Cornelius, it is by turns icy, wry and mesmeric. From the Thomas Newman-like interplay of acoustic and electric sounds on opener Solaris through to the cinematic cool of The Track Of The Dull Sun, Umbrella EP1 offers a soundtrack for post-modern inner landscapes. If all of us live in a world caught between analogue and digital, this fusion of Buddhist bells, cellos, electronic noise and piano captures our condition astutely. Fans of Steve Reich and Philip Glass will enjoy the insistent repetitions of Close Encounter, while Cornelius’ mixes bring a claustrophobic edge to proceedings. Arthur Jeffes rebooted his late father Simon’s Penguin Café Orchestra concept in 2009, and some asked then whether he could bring anything new. This release shows how he has honoured his father’s legacy and also brought new steel to the Café’s brand of chamber jazz.