Simon Jeffes founded the Penguin Cafe Orchestra in 1972, and the chamber group carried on for a quarter-century after that, all the way up to Jeffes’ death in 1997. Eight years ago, Jeffes’ son Arthur rebooted the group under the name Penguin Cafe, and their latest album The Imperfect Sea is out at the end of this week. Named for the Simon Jeffes quote “we wade in a sea of imperfections,” it finds the ensemble exploring the potential for beauty among the chaos through the pursuit of imitating electronic dance music with orchestral instruments. And indeed, each of these compositions is like a little oasis for escaping the anxiety du jour. Arthur Jeffes composed most of them, but there’s also one by his father Simon (“Now Nothing”) as well as covers of tracks by Kraftwerk (“Franz Schubert”) and Simian Mobile Disco (“Wheels Within Wheels”). Everything is of a piece, though — and a peaceful piece, at that. Stream the album in full below.
While you’re here, check out this footage of Penguin Cafe performing album opener “Ricercar” with Nils Frahm at London’s Barbican Centre.