BASTA The Langley Schools Music Project



"The Angels love enthusiasm far more than perfection." --anonymous

The Langley Schools Music Project is a 60-voice chorus of rural school children from western Canada, untrained but captivated by melodic magic, singing tunes by the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, The Bay City Rollers, and others. The students accompany themselves with the shimmering gamelan chimes of Orff percussion, and elemental rock trimmings arranged by their itinerant music teacher, Hans.Fenger.

These 1976-77 recordings, captured on a 2-track tape deck in a school gymnasium, weren't staged to achieve money or fame, to sell albums or land a record contract. These kids played music because they loved it. Innocent, flawed and bittersweet, guided by Fenger's unsuspecting genius, these recordings deserve to be heard and preserved. They brim with charm and youthful élan, sparked by flashes of lo-fi Spectorian majesty and Pet Sounds subtlety. Call it folk art, outsider, or campfire rock -- the labels don't matter. These are gorgeous, heavenly artifacts. Period.

These recordings were originally contained on two 12" LPs, pressed exclusively for the students, their classmates, teachers, and parents. They were never intended for exposure outside the provincial Langley region. But after they came to the attention of Irwin Chusid, the Songs in the Key of Z author and record producer vowed to make these recordings commercially available. He forged a licensing/trustee agreement with the Langley School administrators, and with the blessings of Hans Fenger and several former student soloists who were located, these priceless recordings have now been introduced to the rest of the planet.

The recordings were newly remastered and CEDAR-cleaned, and reverberate with an astonishing range

The package includes a 16-page full-color booklet chronicling the development of the recordings; personal reminiscences from Hans Fenger; photos from the original LP covers; and colorful.sidelights.

(& original recording artists):

01) Venus and Mars/Rock Show
---- (Paul McCartney &.Wings)
---- >>listen to clip
02) Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)
---- >>listen to clip
03) God Only Knows (The Beach Boys)
04) Space Oddity (David Bowie)
---- >>listen to clip
05) The Long and Winding Road
---- (The Beatles)
06) Band On The Run
---- (Paul McCartney & Wings)
07) I'm Into Something Good
---- (Earl-Jean/Herman's Hermits)
08) In My Room (The Beach Boys)
---- >>listen to clip
09) Saturday Night (Bay City Rollers)
10) I Get Around
(The Beach Boys)
11) Mandy
(Barry Manilow)
12) Help Me, Rhonda
---- (The Beach Boys)
13) Desperado
(The Eagles)
---- >>listen to clip
14) You're So Good To Me

---- (The Beach Boys)
---- >>listen to clip
15) Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
16) To Know Him Is To Love Him
---- (Teddy Bears)
17) Rhiannon
(Fleetwood Mac)
18) You're Sixteen
---- (Johnny Burnette/Ringo Starr)
19) Little Deuce Coupe
---- (The Beach Boys)
20) Wildfire
(Michael Martin Murphy)
21) Calling Occupants of
---- Interplanetary Craft
---- (The Recognized Anthem
---- of World Contact.Day)
---- (Klaatu/The Carpenters)

* Bonus tracks on Basta release only

Available on Basta Records (Basta.3091102)
except North America: Bar/None Records (AHAON-122)
Press contact: Irwin Chusid

"If you wanna know if you've written a hit, play it for kids." --Monica.Lynch

Sketch by Mike Owens
© Mike Owens, all rights reserved

"I don't care how grizzled and jaded a hipster you are--I don't care if you're a 400-pound biker who's killed a half dozen Aryan Brotherhood guys in prison--if you aren't a little moved by [the Langley recordings], you're a f***ing robot."
--Ron.Kretch,, 2013

Ordering info:
Available in better music stores,
or click below to order online from:

> - > Bar/None

* Basta - European Edition
contains 2 extra tracks


CD cover

"The backing arrangement is astounding. Coupled with the earnest if lugubrious vocal performance you have a piece of art that I couldn't have conceived of, even with half of Colombia's finest export products" --David.Bowie (on the Langley students' rendition of "Space.Oddity")

"The effect of all those young voices singing 'Calling Occupants' is charming." --Richard Carpenter, The.Carpenters

"When I heard about the Langley Project, it seemed very interesting, but I did have the thought that it might sound like children singing off-key in a gym. The reality blew me away -- a haunting, evocative wall-of-sound experience that is affecting in an incredibly visceral way. What an amazing CD!" --Fred Schneider, The.B-52s

"This is beauty. This is truth. This is music that touches the heart in a way no other music ever has, or ever could." --John.Zorn

"Outside-music archivist [and Langley chronicler] Irwin Chusid [insists] that these strange and charming renditions of songs like 'Space Oddity,' 'I'm Into Something Good,' and 'Desperado' have artistic merit. Surprisingly, he's right. In its own surreally amateurish way, this stuff is both accomplished and addictive." (Rating: B+) --Rob Brunner, Entertainment.Weekly

"Once you recover from the kitsch of their schoolyard rendition of the Carpenters' ode to extraterrestrial life, 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft,' you may well regard this CD as a testament to the value of creative teaching, and of music education in schools." --Sue Cummings,

"It is very evident that the [Orff] instruments were not used as they would be used in the Orff-Schulwerk approach. AOSA has no desire to be connected with this recording ... Thank you for your interest in the American Orff-Schulwerk Association." --Executive.Director, American Orff-Schulwerk Association

 see also:
"I find myself calling friends, turning The Langley Schools Music Project up really loud, holding the phone out and going, 'Can you hear that?' I put it on at odd times during the day, tuning it in and out, sometimes wincing as the singers hit a strange note, then shaking my head in puzzled wonder when the music suddenly, and against all odds, transcends the kitsch limitations that seem designed to keep it earthbound and soars off into the realm of true art. It flies -- crooked as a butterfly's flight, but it still flies.
I wish every school taught music like this. I wish every piece of music recorded in a school gymnasium were this haunting... and then I suspect that, if I listened to them right, maybe they would be."

Neil Gaiman
Author: American Gods; Smoke and Mirrors; Stardust; Neverwhere; and creator of DC Comics series Sandman -
. "Bowie's lyrics on the original 'Space Oddity' are a Beckett-like paean to the inescapable loss of connection and communication that terrifies us all. What makes the Langley children's version so fascinating is that they sing it joyfully instead of mournfully, and the song takes on a celebratory meaning. The lyrics are delivered as if the kids are in a playground rather than a marooned space capsule. ... The more you listen to the song, the more you hear that the children are treating the recording as a social event and that they love their music teacher. There's a playfulness going on--they're not performing for an audience or parents but just for the love of singing together."

Novelist Russell Banks
Author of The Sweet Hereafter quoted in the- Wall Street Journal, Nov. 4, 2014
"I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn't know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children's music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal -- they had elàn. This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then I never liked conventional 'children's music,' which is condescending and ignores the reality of children's lives, which can be dark and scary. These children hated 'cute.' They cherished songs that evoked loneliness and sadness."
      Hans.Fenger, Langley music supervisor/arranger

Music supervisor Hans Fenger expresses hope that the commercial release of this material will prompt some of his former students to reestablish contact. He'd like to know how they're doing. Email will be forwarded to Fenger through Langley Music Info.
Or write to him c/o Irwin Chusid, PO Box 6258, Hoboken, NJ 07030

Excerpt from program brochure for Transient Glory: The Voices of Children, The Young Peoples' Chorus of New York City, directed by Francisco J. Nunez (2002): "The unique aspect for a children's chorus as a musical instrument is that the performer who sings in it can use his/her instrument for only a very short period of time before relinquishing the art to others. This transient, eternally self-renewing quality endows the instrument with a particular poignancy and innocence."



 kids  kids  kids


All content Irwin Chusid except where indicated.

e-mail: Langley Music Info