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Palm Fabric Orchestra
Vague Gropings in the Slip Stream
Carrot Top Records CD SAKI 004, 1995 (44:50)

Uh, well, it's like, um, er...

Glenn Brooks

Vague gropings, indeed: a pretty good description of this review. Frank Orrall, the leader of the barely-rock group Poi Dog Pondering, is also the brainchild behind Palm Fabric Orchestra. If you guessed this is artsy stuff, you'd be right. Predominantly acoustic instruments including (at various times) piano, violin, cello, clarinet, flutes, guitar, drums and "long stringed instrument" are joined by a dash of synths, a Hammond B-3 electric organ, a metal ashtray, wordless vocals, finger snaps and hand claps. Eight tunes with evocative titles like "Rounding the Trees by the Forest Edge" are reminiscent of nineteenth century parlor music as much as anything. There is just a whiff of the music academy about the album (it even ends with a waltz) but it's all charmingly gentle, quirky, just a little lumpy, and not at all serious.

If I say it reminds me of a more focused version of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, or the Incredible String Band without vocals, that probably doesn't help you a bit. Okay, let's try this: you would never play this CD on a Saturday night, but on a warm Sunday afternoon, rocking on the porch while this music drifted out through an open window, you'd think it was the best music ever. And it just might be.

update     The album is now unfortunately out of print, but still lists it. If you are interested in the CD, put in an order now and hope you get it!

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.