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Album Review

The Pascals' second opus is a little less satisfying than their eponymous debut, although the reasons for that are difficult to pin down. It may have to do with the fact that the surprise of hearing for the first time this street fanfare-cum-toy instruments orchestra inspired by the music of Pascal Comelade wears off (which doesn't make them a novelty band, mind you). Maybe the group sounds more professional, something imputable to somewhat tighter arrangements this time around, and that strips some of the authenticity and fantasy away from the music. In the end, Abiento remains a very honest and entertaining album. The title is a misspelling of the French "à bientôt," or "see you soon." This friendly title matches the Pascals' inviting music where toy pianos, ukulele, accordion, violins, recorders, and whistles sketch simple melodies and folk dances from a country out of time and space. "Wedding Polka," which opens the disc, and "Hashire Kozou" have an irresistible open-air party band feel — the latter is exuberantly filled with the clatter of bicycle horns and kazoos. The aptly titled "Egyptian Reggae" throws in a spine-tingling melody on musical saw. The most surprising track is the rendition of Brian Eno's "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)," mainly because if you don't pay attention, you will fail to recognize the original in this spirited, naïve, and considerably slowed down arrangement. The closing "La La La" builds the simplest of choruses from pastoral folk up to the craziest of Hungarian dances. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, Abiento (like the group's previous album) is highly recommended to fans of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Abiento, PASCALS
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