It is always very exciting when a new album gets released by Piano and Coffee Records. Over the last few months, the Peruvian label has accustomed us to wonderful releases and musical pearls. Happy Birthday by Plïnkï Plønkï is the fourth release by the label and features wonderful music from the mysterious “50 piece brass ensemble from Iceland that doesn't exist”.
Happy Birthday, although revolving under a single theme, is incredibly varied. From the instrumentation—the piano and strings of Happy Birthday Jacob, what seems to be a Melodica on Happy Birthday, the banjo of Til Hamingju Með Afmælið Guðrún or the ukulele of Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Liebe Marie—to the nature of the pieces—melancholic at times in Födelsedagen Emma or Happy Birthday Emily (and its theremin!), or slightly quirky and childish in Joyeux Anniversaire Léa. The diversity of the pieces, as well as the sound collages of voice and nature recordings—Happy Birthday James or 幸せな誕生日ユカ—reminded me of albums such as Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother and Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, in their approach. The acoustic guitar—present in many pieces of the album—has been produced in a very interesting way, through a chorus sound that emphasises the vintage vibe of the album—Happy Birthday Adam or Födelsedagen Oscar, which features the only vocal singing part of the album.
It is worth noticing the fascinating universe around Happy Birthday; from the illustrations by Lara Hawthorne to the Happy Birthday Emily video by Jolien van der Beek.
Initially released on June, 17 2017—for Icelandic National Day—Happy Birthday has been re-released by Piano and Coffee Records on June 17, 2018, on tape—which could not be a better support for what seems to be a mixtape for Plïnkï Plønkï’s own friends! Everything about this album is interesting; the concept, the melodies, the instrumentation, the production and the visual universe. It is another strongly recommended work that should receive the attention it deserves, and another one of my favourite this year!