Penguin Cafe have announced their new album Handfuls of Night on October 4th, the highly anticipated follow up to their acclaimed 2017 LP The Imperfect Sea, with the shimmering contemporary classical panorama At the Top of the Hill, They Stood... as premiered on The Quietus.
Handfuls of Night began life after Greenpeace commissioned founder and band leader Arthur Jeffes to write four pieces of music corresponding to four breeds of penguins, to help raise awareness for the endangered Antarctic seas. A fundraising evening at EartH in Hackney followed, where Penguin Cafe premiered the four songs named after their feathered counterparts to a sold out audience; the rousing contemporary folk inflected Chinstrap, the mournful and minimalistic Adelie, stoic and rhythmic The Life of an Emperor and the wistful, string-laden Gentoo Origin. But both the album and Penguin Cafe as a project have origins that reach further back:
“In 2005 I was asked to join an expedition re-creating Scott’s last Antarctic trip in 1911 for the BBC, using the same Edwardian equipment. I’m no explorer but I was keen, especially as there’s a family link – Scott was married to my great grandmother before she married my great grandfather.
I had lots of time to ponder my life back home. It was then that I decided to get my Master of Music degree and focus on composing music, and also then that I realised that even in the most remote silent places, music can still be a huge part of one’s internal world and imagination. Whilst on the expedition. I spent days playing things back in my head and also writing new things, which I would then try and write down at the end of the day.” — Arthur Jeffes
Handfuls of Night’s tones, textures and melodies evoke otherworldly expanses, which at different junctures are either foreboding, awe inspiring or peaceful. There’s subtly morphing rhythmic repetition throughout, somewhere between minimalism, krautrock and the piano-cascades of label peer Lubomyr Melnyk. Jeffes creates a kinetic, circling motion, which drives the album forward in the form of a musical trip that mirrors the physical journey it was inspired by.
Penguin Cafe will be taking Handfuls of Night around the UK this autumn before heading out on a worldwide tour in 2020, with more dates to be announced.
28.09. Birmingham Town Hall, UK
29.09. Queens Hall Edinburgh, UK
30.09. Cambridge Corn Exchange, UK
01.10. De Montfort Hall Leicester, UK
02.10. Queen Elizabeth Hall London, UK
03.10. Royal Northern College of Music Manchester, UK
05.10. St George's Bristol, UK
06.10. St David's Hall Cardiff, UK
07.10. National Concert Hall Dublin, Ireland
· listen to At the Top of the Hill, They Stood
· pre-order Handfuls of Night on LP/CD/DL
· book tickets for the tour