Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine’s boyfriend is obsessed with that song “Desperado”? Every time he hears it, his eyes glaze over and he gets lost in an internal world of his own design. I have a song that does that to me; it’s called “Coffee with Penguins” by an organ and cello duo called Savant Flaneur.
The song is a sweeping piece that speaks volumes in its short run time. It’s a testament to music’s ability to capture the intangible, ephemeral aspects of the human experience. When Scott Leroux gets his organ whirring and Nathan Krahn bows his head and puts his bow to the strings, magic happens.
Outside of Savant Flaneur, the two are responsible for expanding the sounds of numerous local acts and lending grandeur to the work spilling forth from the local music scene. Aside from his solo act, Sequin, Leroux has been known to share the stage with fellow vintage organ enthusiast Smoky Tiger, he has added a layer to a yet unreleased song by Ex Modern Teen, and recently debuted a new act with Jennifer Sparling, the Uncanny Valley Girls, that is sure to excite and challenge audiences citywide. Krahn has added a tastefully heartfelt cello to David Fort’s alt-folk extravaganza Twin and is a member of the hauntingly sweet Form Giants and the charmingly rustic Eagle Lake Owls.
With a resume that reads like a who’s who of Winnipeg’s weird and wonderful, why is it that the quirky orchestral sounds of Savant Flaneur hold such sway over me? Why do their songs cut me to the quick when both men have so many projects?
Maybe it’s because they seem to mostly perform at unorthodox venues: house shows, galleries and their series of performances outside Jonnies Sticky Buns. The absence of stage, theatrical lighting, or a PA forces an intimacy with their audience that is very endearing. You can’t chat to your friend or order another drink; it is not designed to make you turn off your mind and dance. With songs like “Coffee with Penguins,” they literally invite the listener to focus their mind on “that moment in a film where the two lovers haven’t kissed yet, but you know they are just about to.”
Where else do you find music like that? Nowhere, that’s where.