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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Music From The Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe Orchestra

1976

Buy At Rough Trade
Music From The Penguin Cafe
Album Summary

Music from The Penguin Cafe is the first studio album by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. It was recorded between 1974 and 1976, and released in 1976. The artist credited for the work varies with different issues. Upon original issue, the label credited the artist as Simon Jeffes, while the cover gave the artist as "members of the Penguin Café Orchestra". The line-up for tracks 1, 9, 10 and 11 consisted of the original "Penguin Café Quartet" (as they are referred to in the liner notes): Simon Jeffes (electric guitar), Helen Liebmann (Cello), Steve Nye (electric piano), and Gavyn Wright (violin). Tracks 2–8, meanwhile, were performed by the ensemble "Zopf", which includes all four members of the quartet as well as Neil Rennie (ukulele) and Emily Young (vocals). Reissues from 1987 forward generally credit the artist as the Penguin Café Orchestra. These later reissues have mistakenly listed pieces 2-8 as though they were movements of a suite entitled "Zopf", instead of 7 separate pieces performed by "Zopf". The executive producer for the album was Brian Eno, who released this album on his experimental Obscure label, with catalogue number "Obscure 7". The original cover was by John Bonis. The reissue cover painting was by Emily Young. The album was later released on CD by E.G. Records in 1991 and later in remastered form in 2006 - both using the reissue cover instead of the original. The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.99

Votes

11340

Genres

  • Pop

Reviews

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Sat Aug 28 2021
4

Album number 99. For what it's worth, the Spotify link here takes you to a version of the album that's missing a track. I doubt that will matter in forming your opinion one way or the other. Me, I went and listened to that missing song. I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth. That's just me. That's just something that I enjoy. The naked dude just chilling on the album cover isn't fooling that penguin or me for that matter. He's just a guy who stayed a little too long at an "Eyes Wide Shut" orgy and now refuses to take his mask off. There are parts of this album that would fit right in at one of those orgies as long as an actual penguin is involved. A good chunk of it sounds like it's trying to be weird just to be as Avant Garde as possible. But I'm guessing Stanley Kubrick loved this album. It made me think a little too much about Penguins and the actor's who portrayed the Penguin in Batman's world. My favorites are Burgess Meredith, the naked guy on the album cover, and I guess Danny DeVito. Honorable mention to former Dodger and Cub great Ron "The Penguin" Cey, who might have been the greatest Penguin of them all. Now that I think about it, that penguin looks like he's the one who stumbled into an orgy. My favorite song, that I think sums up the entire album, is called, "The Sound Of Someone You Love Who's Going Away and It Doesn't Matter". It's almost 12 minutes long, but that thing takes you on a JOURNEY. Ultimately you end up back to staring at that album cover, wishing you were at an outdoor orgy.

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Thu Apr 01 2021
4

The main reason I'm listening through the 1001 is to find stuff like this. Super chill, experimental and simply very well done.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

superb album cover. perfectly apt too, i've never heard the penguin cafe before but i saw the album cover and knew what i was getting, some oddness. fucking brilliant eccentric shit.

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Tue May 11 2021
1

I can see how important this album probably was I just don't care.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
4

Cannot understate the dread and delight of this album. The chirpy bright notes are ominous when juxtaposed with the frantic tunes following. Feels like the end of the world.

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Thu Apr 07 2022
4

After finding out that this album was produced by Brian Eno, I'm not surprised that I liked it right away. What I am surprised about is that I've never heard of it before. It's really cool for a mostly instrumental album. Laid back, if not quite ambient, with a really cool sound to it. I think I'm going to try and pick up this album on vinyl based on my first listen. This was a great palette-cleanser after having to review a fucking KISS album yesterday 4/5

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Thu Sep 02 2021
5

This was a real winner for me. I don’t know why it resonated with me so much. But the intermingling of the instruments was great. Definitely on the list to pick up.

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Fri Jun 03 2022
5

This is such an strange yet earnest album. The orchestration is beautiful and expertly oscillates through moments of beauty, strangeness, and dread. Simply put, it is an avant-garde masterpiece. The use of traditional orchestration within an experimental folk framework packaged as an album of popular music manages create something that stands out among the experimental and progressive music of the 70s and that says an awful lot.

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Sat Apr 10 2021
3

I'm pleasantly surprised that this album was included on the 1001 list. Most of the curator's choices are obvious, boneheaded or both; this is neither. Music From The Penguin Cafe is unique, both in The Penguin Cafe Orchestra's discography and more generally. It seems to me that the group's driving force, Simon Jeffes, was still trying to figure out what his group was all about. Seemingly irreconcilable elements fight for dominance, sometimes in the same song. You have feints at pop songs, pastoral violins, world music tropes boiled down to their essence, and avant guarde noodling, flavored from time to time with producer Brian Eno's effects processing. Adding to the strangeness is the prominence of Fender Rhodes (mostly used in jazz fusion) and electric guitar. Sometimes Music From The Penguin Cafe is awkward, sometimes it's gorgeous, but it sure as hell ain't boring.

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Mon Sep 20 2021
1

Apparently I had to hear this album once before I die, so I did. That was plenty...1 🌟

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Thu Jul 07 2022
1

No, just no. This is terrible, and I have no idea why I had to hear it at all. Anytime it started to get almost (and almost is a loose term here) listenable, it went in some weird ass, left-field direction and totally pulled me out of it.

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Wed Nov 22 2023
5

Albums like this are the reason I love this project so much. I had absolutely no clue what to expect and had never heard of the artist or album, but both the naked penguin man and the fact that Brian Eno was the producer had me feeling hopeful. This just hit right today. Slightly bizarre and utterly beautiful, I've got nothing to complain about.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

Very pleasant listening. It's an interesting combination of instruments and genres they normally aren't heard in. Some of the songs remind me of songs in the style of Apocalyptica (who came much later, but I heard first). I wonder if these people were an influence.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
3

Quel bonheur de faire respirer le générateur avec un documentaire animalier. La voix de Pierre Arditi donne aux images de drones volant au-dessus de la banquise une poésie qui ravira petits et grands.

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Wed Mar 27 2024
3

This was like a fever dream. Wait, did I accidentally drop acid at work? Truly great album cover by the way. I might try to find the vinyl for that reason alone. I liked this, can’t really imagine sitting around one day and having the presence of mind to put this on.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
2

Je n'ai pas trop compris ce que cet album venait faire dans cette liste, quand des artistes comme Céline Dion se sont vus refuser l'accès à ce cercle de petit privilégiés. Néammoins, l'album débutait sur de belles notes, un début d'écoute plutôt amusante, moi et mes camarades procédant à une bataille de polochons. Toute cette petite troupe était hilares, hurlant des phrases en allemand n'ayant pas le moindre sens sorties de leur bouche. Quand tout d'un coup, l'ambiance change du tout au tout. Jurgen fait son apparition dans la pièce, et jette immédiatement un froid dans l'assemblée. Il fixe de ses yeux de glace le denommé Ludvig, tenant une chaise en plastique entre ses deux mains, et le sermonna immédiatemment d'un "Die Stuhle musst mie die Stuhle sein". S'en suivirent de pénibles heures pour notre joyeuse troupe, bien moins guillerette qu'à l'accoutumée. A suivre donc

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Fri May 21 2021
1

Just boring ambient sounds. 2/10.

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Thu Dec 09 2021
1

Hefts a pure carcinogen that is as mysterious as its inclusion in this list

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Wed Dec 15 2021
1

I honestly... Just what can I say? It was awful, I didn't vibe at all to this... The worst album I've heard so far. It is now my benchmark for 1's.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

HAVE YOU EVER FUCKED A PENGUIN IN THE ASS? HAVE YOU FUCK! HAVE YOU EVER FUCKED A PENGUIN IN THE ASS? HAVE YOU FUCK! HAVE YOU EVER FUCKED A PENGUIN, EVER FUCKED A PENGUIN, EVER FUCKED A PENGUIN IN THE ASS? HAVE YOU FUCK!

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Sun Oct 30 2022
5

I have never, before today, heard of these people. I approached it knowing literally nothing. And it's really good. Tracks that are just on the edge of familiar while being absolutely new. This will definitely be listened to again.

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Tue Jul 11 2023
5

There was something familiar to me about this album, at least a track or two, but I can't figure out why. Can anyone tell me??? I totally dug it! Please sir, I want some more.

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Thu Apr 15 2021
4

Quite nice, atmospheric music.

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Sat Feb 10 2024
4

First, search for the album rather than follow the link, the 2008 remaster is complete rather than missing Pigtails. I know these mainly for Perpetuum Mobile, which is absolutely delightful and should be checked out even if you don't love this album. You've probably heard it on an advert, but deserves listening in full. Also check the Aussie film Mary and Max, which is where I first heard it. Beautifully used and lovely film. Never heard this record, and it's certainly more challenging in general than the albums of theirs I have given time to. Anyway, it's gorgeous sometimes, mental at others. Tick, and tick. Wiki calling this Pop is funny.

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Fri Mar 08 2024
3

Is this background music to a silent Wes andersonnmovie?

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Mon May 17 2021
2

Pingviinikahvilassa ois varmaan toiminu paremmin ku kotikoneella töitä tehdessä

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

Wow, dette var deilig musikk! Elsker lydbildet, føler jeg blir dratt inn i en behagelig sinnstilstand, nesten til å drømme seg litt bort i. Minner meg nesten mest om spill-soundtrack enn noe annet. Er en del sære, alternative seksjoner inni der, men det bidrar bare til stemningen og gir litt variasjon. Herlighet, hvis ikke den kombinasjonen av clean gitar og fiolin ikke er det deiligste man kan høre, så vet ikke jeg. Beste sanger: Penguin Café Single, The Sound Of Someone You Love og In A Sydney Motel.

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Sun May 09 2021
5

Gostei, muito bom para estudar. Destaque para "Zopf: Milk" e "The Sound Of Someone You Love Who's Going Away And It's Doesn't Matter", sendo que a última me lembra muito "Espatódea" do Nando Reis.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
5

No idea who/what/when. But damn, sounds very joyful 5/5

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Wed Dec 15 2021
5

Fabulous, always happy to listen to these guys

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Thu Mar 24 2022
5

Fantastic. A sample flippers paradise.

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Fri Nov 11 2022
5

Johnny Greenwood came to mind while listening to this. I love it when I'm surprised. I really enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Great discovery.

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Thu Nov 17 2022
5

Wonderfully chilled, no where near as wierd or abstract as some of the reviews on here suggest. Really liked this.

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Wed Dec 28 2022
5

I was intrigued by the strange name and cover, and the wiki info and initial sound very much lived up to the strange expectations. This is the type of album I love seeing on this list: strange novelties and oddities. Music is only solid, but I have to give a full five for exemplifying what I want to see out of this list. Would love to stumble upon this at a used record store.

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Thu Mar 16 2023
5

I figured this would just be a fun name/cover, with average/bad music - boy, was I wrong. I really loved this one for a number of reasons. Wide range of instruments help create a diverse vibe, jumping between orchestral rock and psychedelic experimentation. The title track is my favorite, but I enjoyed every song on the album, and added 2 total. I actually listened to this on the way to work, and then again on the way home, and have a feeling I will be listening to this one a lot in the future. This album is exactly the type of stuff I came into this project searching for. 9.3/10

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Fri Mar 31 2023
5

PREFS : Penguin Cafe Single, From the Colonies, In a Sydney Motel, Coronation, Giles Farnaby's Dream, The Sound of Someone You Love Who's Going Away and It Doesn't Matter, Chartered Flight MOINS PREF : Milk

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Fri Mar 31 2023
5

Parfait avec le café du matin

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Thu Apr 06 2023
5

Challenging at times but captivating and effortless. A great example of an album I never would have even heard of before this project.

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Fri Apr 14 2023
5

Did not know what this was, but really liked it. Interesting backstory.

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Fri Apr 21 2023
5

Really great Peaceful and pensive, a bit avant-garde

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Mon Apr 24 2023
5

I love this. This is what my mind plays when I am in POLITE COMPANY.

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Mon Apr 24 2023
5

This was such a perfect mix of weird minimalistic vibes for me. Inject more of this directly into my veins, please and thank you.

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Sun May 14 2023
5

great walking experience inquisitive music

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Mon Jun 05 2023
5

This is great stuff. I highly recommend most everything on Eno's early Obscure label imprint. My favorite being Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking Of The Titanic," with this being in the Top 3 or 4 albums released on the label.

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Tue Jul 11 2023
5

The cover and the name of the album and band had me predisposed to loving this. So what a relief to find that the music lived up to the expectations. It took me through a range of emotions, but mostly I just found it terribly interesting to listen to!

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Wed Jul 19 2023
5

What a whimsical enjoyable listen. The only real misfire was "Pigtail", but still, when considered as a whole piece, the album is great.

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Thu Sep 07 2023
5

In het begin wil dit CKV album even wat mensen afschrikken, maar daarna is het genieten. Aan ons als luisteraar om vooral in het begin met wat geveinsd zelfvertrouwen en een zelfingenomen lachje met ons hoofd te knikken alsof we het begrijpen en dan komt de beloning vanzelf. Ik vind het onverwacht mooi. Een keer wat anders, veel afwisseling en het wordt nergens echt verschrikkelijk; het is geen jazz. Zo heeft 'Milk' wat Aphex Twin-achtigs, 'Coronation' is van die Aronofsky-film-muziek en 'Giles Farnaby's Dream' neemt je mee naar een bekend park in Kaatsheuvel. Dit album had ik zonder deze lijst nooit geluisterd en het was zeker interessant. Vooral daarom 5 sterren.

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Sun Sep 17 2023
5

Varried and interesting and whimsical and fun

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Sun Sep 17 2023
5

Had never heard of this project before, but this album is absolutely magical. Beautiful, colorful, and whimsical chamber music that feels way ahead of its time. The kind of album I could listen to forever. 4.5/5

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Sun Oct 08 2023
5

What an amazing album from Brian Eno's label. The music is strange, varied and experimental but they manage to do it with a deep sense of calm and a lack of pretentiousness that's unusual in the avant garde. Very refreshing listen.

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Fri Nov 03 2023
5

What a treat! This sent me down a rabbit hole of discovery. The Penguin Cafe Orchestra is perfect for almost any mood.

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Wed Nov 29 2023
5

had some really cool parts and some parts that felt like absolute wank but given the time it came out that's fair enough

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Wed Dec 13 2023
5

Penguin Café Single- 5/5 Zopf - From the Colonies (For N.R.)- 4.8/5 Zopf - In a Sydney Motel- 5/5 Zopf - Surface Tension (Where the Trees Meet the Sky)- 3.7/5 Zopf - Milk- 4.1/5 Zopf - Coronation- 5/5 Zopf - Giles Farnaby's Dream- 5/5 Zopf - Pigtail- 4/5 The Sound of Someone You Love Who's Going Away and It Doesn't Matter- 4.8/5 Hugebaby- 5/5 Chartered Flight- 4.8/5 Total- 4.7/5

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Sat Dec 23 2023
5

I dunno how I discovered this band in 2019 but I did and I've loved them ever since. It feels like a little hidden gem that no one I have ever talked to has heard of. Great stuff and happy that others have discovered them through this.

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Thu Dec 28 2023
5

I actually really loved this and didn't expect to! it had the perfect amount of slight weirdness for me

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Mon Jan 08 2024
5

I can’t help giving this adorable album 5 stars! ⭐️ it’s so peculiar and at the same time easy to listen. I definitely want it on vinyl.

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Thu Jan 11 2024
5

This is exactly the type of weird experimental shit I signed up for. I've never heard of this group or any of the musicians involved, but this album really clicked with me. I love the fusion of genres and styles, some of it sounds quite folky, other parts more prog rock or classical. I can see how this might have influenced quite a few modern indie and art rock bands too (particularly thinking of Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire and BCNR). I'll definitely be on the lookout for this on vinyl, and will be giving their other albums a listen too.

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Sun Jan 14 2024
5

Loved this! Found it interesting and uplifting to listen to.

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Sun Jan 14 2024
5

I had never heard of them but wow, excellent album. Different!

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Tue Feb 14 2023
5

This album was absolutely phenomenal. Its perfect for a cafe setting or for the end of a party at around 3-4 in the morning. This album is a must listen!!!!

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Wed Jan 24 2024
5

This is more pseudo-classical than pop, imo. Kinda surprised it’s on here. I like their unique and experimental style, though.

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Fri Feb 16 2024
5

Different, original... I loved it!

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Sun Feb 18 2024
5

Never heard this before. I should have. Quirky, weird, beautiful. Where is this cafe, I want to go there, like now?, please!?

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Thu Feb 29 2024
5

this was a great album. I'd never heard of them before and ended up listening to the rest of their albums. I'm in with this group!

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Sun Mar 10 2024
5

This was very nice and easy listening.

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Wed Mar 13 2024
5

I'd never heard of this but loved it as soon as I put it on. You can hear Eno all over it. Will definitely explore more their albums.

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Fri Apr 19 2024
5

It's pretty experimental. I like it.

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Wed Jun 05 2024
5

This is cool stuff. Like an early Wes Anderson film, full of quirks and things that grab your senses.

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Wed Jun 12 2024
5

Wow! I had no idea what this was going to be like and in the end, I really did love it. It sound very much like soundtrack music. It’s odd but very musical….a little dark at times, and sometime whimsical. I may have to listen to this one again.

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Thu Jun 20 2024
5

Incredible ambient music with even more incredible cover art. It just makes me happy and want to stay at the penguin cafe for as long as I want

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Fri Jul 05 2024
5

Odd and lovely. Serious but doesn't take itself seriously. Confident but never arrogant. Fun but not wacky, It feels like a score that should have more motifs to latch onto, but is too happy creating a delicious atmosphere to care what you think. Gorgeous and unique.

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Thu Jul 18 2024
5

Experimental, but in a way I enjoy a lot more than some others. Funky or calm one minute, and eerie the next. The Sound Of Someone You Love Who's Going Away And It Doesn't Matter is a perfect song name.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

I kind of assumed it wouldn't be some boring gift shop music and boy was I right. I like the subversive name and cover, and really enjoy the minimalism. Good background music. Favorite tracks: "Surface Tension", "Milk"

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