Tapping into our inner child, French avant-garde composer Pascal Comelade created music for toy instruments to heighten its sense of playfulness and innocence - an idea explored more fully on stage by Japanese group Pascals. This unique 16-piece acoustic orchestra was formed by Rocket Matsu in January 1995, bringing together music fans rather than formally trained musicians to engender the right flighty spirit for performances. With a whimsical array of instruments including toy piano, pianica, recorders, accordion, ukulele, violin, banjo, guitars and toy percussion, the group initially played and interpreted the tunes of Henry Mancini, Nino Rota, Brian Eno, Jonathan Richman and Comelade, though Pascals now roam the widest possible musical terrain. The repertoire embraces everything from Western-tinged ballads to toy piano sambas, to waltzes, polkas and pop songs, to strange Japanese songs in which the chanting suggests we all had tails and fins before we were born. Laced with whimsy, the Pascals style is full of wit and humour, reminiscent of the late, lamented Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Wacky? Yes. Playful? Yes. Through five albums released since 2000, Pascals have conjured the most unlikely type of ballroom fanfares that are fanciful and frivolous, yet also amusing and uplifting.
(Biography supplied by WOMAD New Zealand 2012)