The 19 tracks on The Langley Schools Music Project document a 60-voice chorus of rural Canadian school children, age 9-12, recorded in 1976-1977. Technically untrained but mesmerized by melodic magic, the students sing from-the-heart renditions of tunes by the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, The Bay City Rollers, and others. They accompany themselves with the shimmering gamelan-like chimes of Orff percussion instruments and elemental rock trimmings arranged by their "gypsy" music teacher, Hans Fenger.
These recordings, caught on 2-track tape in a Western Canada school gym, weren't staged to achieve money or fame, 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 brim with charm and adolescent elan, 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. The Langley Schools Music Project was produced for first commercial issue by IRWIN CHUSID (Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Shaggs, Songs in the Key of Z). The package includes a 16-page color booklet detailing the story of the recordings, and includes photos of the kids in action. The tracks were newly remastered and reverberate with an astonishing range of fidelity. These recordings were originally contained on two 12" LPs, pressed in a limited run for students, classmates, teachers, and parents. They were never intended for exposure outside the Langley region. However, under a trustee arrangement with Langley School District #35, royalty payments from the sale of this CD will be used to finance music scholarship or purchase instruments for the schools and/or pay pro-rated shares to participating former students.
Reviews"A one-of-a-kind 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'." - Kurt Rheigley, Seattle Weekly