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The Penguin Cafe Orchestra

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra creates dreamlike music. It is beautiful, yet illogical, unpredictable, and often bizarre. Lush violins swirl between classical melodies and country hoedowns. Is that Beethoven or "Walk, Don't Run" they're playing? Is that a touch-tone telephone playing the melody? Yes to all the above, and much more. And don't forget the repetition. Things go on just a little longer than you think they should. Remember Supersax, the jazz group that fully orchestrated Charlie Parker's sax solos and gave them a fuller and richer sound? Well, it's almost as if The Pengies have taken the two-note picking of Luther Perkins (Johnny Cash's guitarist) and taught his repetitive, minimalist picking to a string quartet. The incredible thing is that these are beautiful, compelling records. You may feel as if you dreamed the whole thing, but it is not a nightmare. Probably because no one knows how to classify their music, Penguin Cafe Orchestra is often described as new-age. Until a better label comes along, don't let that put you off. Instead, find a copy of the album called Penguin Cafe Orchestra -- great cover! -- and see what the subconscious mind sounds like when it's given some stringed instruments to play with. Hank Davis

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