Sundog is an offshoot project from the Penguin Cafe helmed by Arthur Jeffes on piano and dulcitone and Oli Langton on violin. I had the pleasure of witnessing their London performance of their inaugural tour. The music is very similar to that of the Penguin Cafe, however it is stripped back to just the piano and violin, so you really get to hear what is happening inside the music. This is music that challenges the listener to follow and presents jarring time signature and marries them with melodies and repetition. There are echoes of Michael Nyman and Philip Glass in some of the works as it is that kind of mathematical music.
The performance was a game of two halves, two forty-five minutes segments with a break in the middle for ice-cream – yes, that’s how rock and roll I am. I had never been to the Purcell Room before and this was a very intimate concert, probably the most intimate performance I had ever attended. We had front row seats, so I could stare up the performers’ trouser legs (joke) and if I put the palms of my hands either side of my face to block my peripheral vision and create a makeshift blinker, it was if Sundog were performing in my own living room.
There were new tunes mixed with Penguin Cafe (the reboot) songs taken from their “A Matter of Life…” album. There were also a couple of vintage Penguin Cafe Orchestra songs as well – Cutting Branches for a Temporary Shelter and Numbers 1-4 (part 2) or 1242. It was a great performance and it was very easily to get swept away with the metronomic quality of the music.
In this instance, I think my only complaint was that the concert was a little too long because I sensed that the energy from Arthur Jeffes began to flag towards the end of the concert. Talking of Arthur Jeffes, I am always impressed with his affable demeanour and the way he takes the time to explain the songs in his own, accessible way.
And here’s a short video: