Two years on from the release of the wonderful The Imperfect Sea, Penguin Cafe have a new album on the way. Entitled Handfuls Of Night, the record is inspired by the Antarctic and its penguin residents, and the idea first sprouted when Arthur Jeffes was commissioned by Greenpeace to write four pieces of music, each for a different breed of penguins. He explains:
“This record started with a core of pieces I wrote specifically about penguins in the Antarctic for a project with Greenpeace in autumn 2018. There are four native Antarctic penguin species – each with their own individual characteristics and natures. I carried on from there to envisage a whole anthropomorphised world, where these penguins had narratives and adventures that we soundtracked.”
But Handfuls Of Night and Penguin Cafe as a project go back more than a decade before that, as Jeffes carries on explaining:
“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.
Antarctica by this stage being a protected environment, we swapped to the Arctic circle where we spent 3 months on the Greenland ice sheet, first dog-sledding and then man-hauling just short of 1000 km at 10,000 feet, across ice fields and glaciers.
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.”
We’ll have to wait until October 4th for the release of the album through Erased Tapes but we can already hear the first magnificent taste from it, ‘At The Top of The Hill, They Stood…’.