The Langley Schools Music Project
that seems to capture nothing less than the sound of falling
in love with music."
nothing cute about their performances, which lends the work a
strange sense of timelessness. It is an affecting album."
the most charming music released this year. ... Innocence and
Despair is sui generis."
let the seemingly ominous title of this disc fool you. Its contents
positively shimmer with light. ... Hans Louis Fenger lovingly
taught his kids the power of musical feeling over the sterility
of musical theory. The results speak volumes. ... The purity
of the children's performances contrasted against the themes
suggested in "Desperado" and "Saturday Night"
provide much of the disc's disarming and bewitching quality.
The Langley Schools Music Project is an aural delight on many
levels, flaws and all."
glance, Innocence and Despair is an unlikely candidate for the
most touching recording ever made, but it is. Innocence and Despair
is less a time capsule than it is timeless: The uplifting power
of children singing unabashedly never wanes."
recording unlikely to ever be duplicated. ...Everyone, not just
educators, can probably find something to cherish in the Langley
Schools Music Project's 'Innocence and Despair'."
achievement, which captures the beauty of the pop songs in unpredictable
ways. Even with warbled harmonies and rudimentary musical accompaniment,
the young students somehow bypass the hurdle of skill to get
to the pure heart of the songs."
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:
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
to Sheila Behman's sweet solo on "Desperado" or the
hopeful, hokey sentiments of "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary
Craft," it's hard not to be moved. It may be more than a
little rough around the edges, but in its own way, Innocence
& Despair finds perfection."
yes, it's very funny, and yes, it's also very cute, it's also
apparent from early on that something of true greatness is happening
here. Because Innocence & Despair is also possessed of a
haunting beauty and deserted charm that absolutely belies its
humble aims -- just to document ... the school choir. Instead,
something happens on the record that takes the heart-on-the-sleeve
misery and doubt and excitement that has always been a part of
the modern love song and, through the echoey unison of the children's
voices, makes that longing cosmic. It's as unsettling as it is
riveting. ... Even looked at in the simplest terms of what Fenger
was hired to do -- teach the kids a little something about music
-- ["In My Room"] alone proves the invaluable service
in Fenger's haphazard method. That the documentation of it has
survived this long is merely an accident of history and a wonder
all its own."
month, I heard David Bowie's 1969 glam-rock classic 'Space Oddity'
as if for the first time. I'd heard the song on the radio before,
of course; however, coming as it did, not from Mr. Bowie but
from a choir of elementary school kids in a remote farm community
in northern Canada, this was something new. Orchestrated in the
late 1970's by a hippie music teacher named Hans Fenger, the
scratchy recording sounded like a document of a clandestine event,
as if Mr. Bowie's song had been co-opted for a cult ceremony.
The lyric of the song's wayward astronaut, "For here/ Am
I sitting in my tin can/ Far above the moon," never resonated
so genuinely. 'Innocence and Despair' exists outside just about
everyone's cultural radar. [The album is] mysterious and haunting
in its hermetic vision."
®2001 Basta Records & Bar None Records
All content © Irwin Chusid except where indicated.