The Penguin Cafe Orchestra (PCO) was an avant-pop band led by English guitarist Simon Jeffes. Also founded by Jeffes with cellist Helen Liebmann, the band toured extensively during the 1980s and 1990s. The orchestra’s sound is not easily categorized, but has elements of exuberant folk music and a minimalist aesthetic occasionally reminiscent of composers such as Philip Glass.
One of the group’s well-known pieces is “Perpetuum Mobile” from their 1987 album Signs of Life. It has been used as theme music for several films, television and radio programmes, including the Australian stop motion animated film Mary and Max (2009) as the main theme, as well as the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Swedish DJ Avicii sampled the main melody for his song “Fade into Darkness”. The song is unusual in that it was written with a 15/8 time signature. The melody appears to end and repeat one beat ahead of when it should, giving the piece the feel of a perpetual motion device.