Penguin Cafe - The Imperfect Sea
Listening to the exquisite audio rendered on the 24Bit edition of this, my impression is of quite an ambient album compared to their older works. The world music elements that marked earlier incarnations of the ensemble have disappeared altogether.
This latest album begins with the beautiful and bumbling rhythm of Ricercar - it’s summer music for driving with the top down. Control 1 Interlude is an atmospheric piece that reminds me of American minimalist, Harold Budd. Subtle and somehow menacing strings are broken by careful and considered piano notes. Protection builds very nicely before Rescue heads away into darker territory before exiting into sunlight with strong piano chords and insistent, driving strings. Now Nothing Rock Music is an excellent piano piece that has a strong 1980s feel to it (although I cannot explain exactly why) - maybe it reminds me of a film score or something. The last piece, Wheels Within Wheels feels like it is heading somewhere but fails to arrive at any sort of conclusion. Maybe that’s the point.
What I enjoy most about The Imperfect Sea is that Penguin Cafe have been able to alter their style significantly and yet the essence of what makes the group so nice to listen to remains as always.