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The Langley Schools Music Project - Innocence & Despair

4.5 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 23, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

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Ever since NPR aired an excerpt of this 1976-77 school project, it's been selling like, well, cookies at a bake sale! Imagine a gym in western Ontario full of 60 children aged 9-12, singing the pop hits of the day and discovering inside themselves for the first time a love of pop music the joy and wonder of these kids is palpable! Then add in some Carl Orff-like percussion, and rudimentary bass and guitar, and the whole thing even takes on some avant-garde dimensions. Trust us, you've never heard God Only Knows; Space Oddity; Rhiannon; Wildfire or The Long and Winding Road sound like this!

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In the mid-1970s, Hans Fenger taught music in the Langley, British Columbia, school district, using an experimental method inspired equally by Brian Wilson and Carl Orff. Occasionally he would record his students in the school gymnasium--elaborate affairs involving more than 60 kids per session. The result is this compelling collection of semi-accidental genius. Picture the Shaggs and Danielson presiding over an elementary school assembly for shy kids, and you begin to understand how sweet, sincere, and slightly unsettling these recordings are. The Langley students perform their favorite 1960s and 1970s hits as if they never heard the originals; they turn "Mandy" into the kind of lo-fi pop song that Neutral Milk Hotel would perfect 20 years later, and sing "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" like a delegation of extraterrestrial children on a friendship mission to Earth. Fenger's arrangements are spacious but elaborate, with prominent Orff percussion instruments that coat everything with a glimmering otherworldliness. The Langley students must've been proud just to hear themselves on tape, but for those of us encountering these artifacts for the first time, it's impossible to come away unmoved. (The photographs are precious, too.) --Mike Appelstein

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Product details

  • Audio CD (October 23, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bar/None Records
  • ASIN: B00005Q6NP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,672 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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May 26, 2017
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