FM Broadcasts: The Optimist’s Easy Magic

Mark Twain said, “There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist,” but I disagree. I’m more inclined to agree with Voltaire who said that Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable. Optimism is often the space between what we wish to be and what we are; the difference between half-full and half-empty. It is a trick of the perception. It would seem that still, afer all these years, perception is thought to be a passive porcess. Rather this is just an excuse for laziness. It becomes an issue of having to choose between two evils and selecting the one you’ve never tried before. It is guilt coupled with pleasure, and pleasure coupled with guilt. Some view caution as pessimism while the optimist is blind to the thorns of the rose. I view pessimism as a healthy dose of realism and optimism as a messenger’s bag of magic trix slung over your shoulder, always at the ready but never in the way. Just what makes that little old ant think he can move that rubber tree plant…

February 2nd marks the week that Jukebox Heart became part of the regular programming on WZBC. Wednesday Nights at 10PM eastern time. We are back after a long absence from the WZBC frequency. While Jukebox Heart will still pull out the occasional hourlong-mix podcasts as we have been doing all along, these FM broadcasts, being a regular weekly event, will quickly outnumber those. As such, I’ll be treating these just like those others, giving each a unique name and mini-rave essay cut-up thing as before. Long time readers know that these are drawn somehow from the audio content. It’s left as an exercise to the reader to figure out just how…

So, this week, let’s all take a breath now and then, let’s nurture our secret easy magic power and get in touch with our optimism, and most of all, let’s resolve to trust in our pessimism, our personal yin and yang, as each struggles for dominance…

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Original Air Date: February 2, 2011
2:56:55 | 166 MB

Playlist

Locust “Jukebox Heart” from Morning Light CD ALBUM (Apollo)
Bookmobile “InYrWindow” from Keys CD ALBUM (Woodson Lateral)
Wechsel Garland “Grosse Erwartungen” from Wechsel Garland CD ALBUM (Morr Music)
King of Spain “Seamless Spotless Sidewalks” from Entropy CD ALBUM (New Granada)
Bumcello “Involuntary Slavery” from Bumcello CD ALBUM (COMET)
Efterklang “I was Playing Drums” from Magic chairs CD ALBUM (4AD)
Bows “King Deluxe” from Blush CD ALBUM (Too Pure)
Remote Viewer “I Think I’d Like It On The Other Side” from PARAPULSE TUCK
Schema “We Think We’re Sane” from Schema CD ALBUM (5 Rue Christine)
Toe “cELLO” from Variant CD ALBUM (Truckstop)
Merzbow “Tadpole” from Merzbeat CD ALBUM (Important)
Dr. M. G. Morgan “Dawn Chorus with Whistlers” from Out of This World LP ALBUM (Road Recordings)
Perrey & Kingsley “Fallout” from Kaleidoscopic Vibrations LP ALBUM (Vanguard)
Jean-Jacques Perrey “Island in Space” from The Amazzing New Sounds of… LP ALBUM (Vanguard)
Perrey & Kingsley “Spooks In Space” from The In Sound from Way Out LP ALBUM (vanuard 1966)
Jean-Jacques Perrey “The Mexican Cactus” from The Amazing Electronic Pop Sounds of… LP ALBUM (Vanguard)
Perrey & Kingsley “Girl From Venus” from The In Sound From Way Out LP ALBUM (Vanguard)
Pluxus “Electroplux” from FAS2 CD ALBUM (Slowball)
Stewart Walker “White Noise On The Horizon” from Reclamation CD ALBUM (Persona)
Yeasayer “Sunrise” from All Hour Cymbals CD ALBUM (We Are Free)
Antioch Arrow “Too Bad You’re Gonna Die” from Gems of Masochism CD ALBUM (Three One G)
Neptune “Donkey Skin” from Patterns CD ALBUM (Self Release)
Castanets “This is the Early Game” from In The Vines CD ALBUM (Asthmatic Kitty)
Various Artists “Records Digest” OTHER ALBUM (People In A Position To Know)
Prints “Easy Magic” from Prints CD ALBUM (Temporary Residence)
Simpatico “Arrogance” from The Difference Between Alone and Lonely CD ALBUM (Matinee)
Mahogany “Optimism” from The Dream of A Modern Day CD ALBUM (Darla 2001)
Mid Air “Tape Loop Dance Party” from Tape Loop ep CD ALBUM
Marumari “Super Botany” from Supermogadon CD ALBUM (Carpark)
Bitcrush “Every Sunday (Winterlight remix)” from From Arcs To Embers CD ALBUM (N5md)

Featured Release:

“Out Of This World”
Another “Sounds Of Out Times” recording by Cook Laboratories.

Presented here following a Merzbow track and as a tongue-in-cheek precursor of Power Electronics, this fascinating record was released in 1956. I was going to be a bad boy and just play the audio track and make up a lugubrious artist and title and send all my friends into a rush looking for their own copy. But the rest of the record was so much fun, I just kept it all in.

From the liner notes:

**********

Featured Artist:
Gershon Kingsley & Jean Jacques Perry


I was lucky enough to obtain three LPs by these prolific artists in a 99 cent bin at our local cool record chain. These records are wacky fun but also the stuff of genius. I featured a few tracks from each, see the playlist above. Right click on any of the album covers below to see a larger version of the image.

German-born Kingsley fled Deutsches Reich to Israel and began his career in music as a pit conductor for Broadway musical shows after graduating from the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Perrey was a French accordion player and medical student who abandoned his studies after meeting Georges Jenny in Paris in 1952. Jenny was the inventor of the Ondioline, a vacuum tube-powered keyboard instrument that was a forerunner of today’s synthesizers and was capable of creating an amazing variety of sounds. Its keyboard had a unique feature — the keyboard was suspended on special springs that were capable of introducing a natural vibrato, if the player moved the keyboard from side to side with the playing hand. The result was a beautiful, almost human-like vibrato that lent the Ondioline a wide range of expression. The keyboard was also pressure-sensitive, and the instrument had a knee volume lever as well. Jenny hired Perrey as a salesman and demonstrator of the new instrument. As a result he came to the attention of French singer Édith Piaf, who sponsored him to record a demo tape that later facilitated him access to work and live in the United States between 1960 and 1970.

Perrey and Kingsley came together during Kingsley’s stint as a staff arranger at Vanguard Records, an independent label in New York City that specialized not in avant-garde music, but in folk music. At that time, Perrey was experimenting with tape loops, which he had been introduced to by the French avant-garde musician Pierre Schaeffer. Each loop was a laboriously hand-spliced assemblage of filtered sounds, pitch-manipulated sounds and sometimes even animal calls. The end result of their first collaborative effort in 1966 combined Perrey’s tape loops, and his inventive melodies with Kingsley’s complementary arrangements and instrumentation. The resulting album was filled with tunes that sounded like music from an animated cartoon gone berserk. Their first LP was titled The In Sound From Way Out! and was released on Vanguard Records that same year. Since this was decades before the advent of widespread digital technology, each tune took weeks of painstaking editing and splicing to produce.
The twelve rather whimsical tracks bore names like “Unidentified Flying Object” and “The Little Man From Mars” in an attempt to make electronic music more accessible to the general public. In fact, “Unidentified Flying Object” and another of the album’s cuts, “Electronic Can-Can” eventually became theme music for “Wonderama,” a Metromedia Television children’s program of the early 1970s. Though most of the melodies were original, two borrowed from the classics. “Swan’s Splashdown” was based on Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Little Swans” while “Countdown At 6” borrowed from Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours. The final cut on the album, “Visa To The Stars” is co-credited to “Andy Badale,” who would go on to fame as Angelo Badalamenti, arranger of the music in many of David Lynch’s movies. In contrast to the rest of the album, “Visa To The Stars” is a more serious gesture and lacks the unusual sound effects of the other eleven cuts. It is highly reminiscent of the style of Joe Meek and his hit, “Telstar” by The Tornados. Perrey’s Ondioline carries the melody throughout.

Their second and final collaborative effort came in 1967 with the release of Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog. This was a similar sounding effort, but instead of all original compositions, the album was mostly versions of popular songs of the day. In this album, Perrey’s tape loops and effects were added in post-production after Kingsley’s orchestrations were recorded, a technique now commonly used by electronic artists to this day. The album was one of the first to use the new Moog modular synthesizer, a massive, complicated electronic instrument resembling an old-style telephone switchboard. The album also bore two notable singles. In fact, the Moog album was released a year and a half before the release of Wendy Carlos’ ground-breaking Switched-On Bach. “The Savers” would go on to fame in 1968 as the Clio Award-winning music for a television ad for No-Cal diet drinks, and in 1972 as the theme to the American television game show “The Joker’s Wild”. About the time “The Savers” was being used on television, engineers with the Walt Disney Company were at work on a new parade at Disneyland Park, the “Main Street Electrical Parade.” The idea was to cover floats with thousands of electronically-controlled colored lights and to set the show to music. Paul Beaver and then later Disney musician Don Dorsey helped rework a Perrey-Kingsley composition called “Baroque Hoedown,” an upbeat, almost sparkling number best described as “harpsichord gone country.” It would become the underlying theme song of the parade for the next three decades at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s California Adventure Park and is still in use today at Magic Kingdom.
Several segments of Sesame Street produced in the 1970s also made use of music from The In Sound from Way Out, as did other television programs, such as “The Red Skelton Show.” A skit from the October 23, 1979 airing of Saturday Night Live titled “Jeopardy! 1999” used “Unidentified Flying Object” as the opening and closing themes.

Though Perrey and Kingsley never enjoyed tremendous commercial success, their music inspired a generation of musicians and was used (and still is used) extensively in advertising. Moog Indigo, a Jean-Jacques Perrey solo album from 1970 featured a cut called “E.V.A.” (also co-written by “Andy Badale,” aka: Angelo Badalamenti). This slow, funky track is one of the most sampled in hip hop and rap music history. In the U.K., pioneered by Kenny Everett, DJs extensively used their tracks as continuity music or took clips for use as jingle backing from the late ’60s and early ’70s. In the U.S., it is currently being used in a TV ad for Zelnorm, a prescription medication for female irritable bowel syndrome. The same album produced “The Elephant Never Forgets” which is still being used as the theme of the Televisa sitcom, “El Chavo del Ocho.” Even the Beastie Boys (who asked permission from Perrey and Kingsley) used both the title and cover art of P & K’s first album for their own The In Sound From Way Out! album in 1996. Gershon Kingsley’s biggest contribution to mainstream pop music came in the early 1970s as the composer of “Popcorn,” the single biggest hit of the German phantom-band “Hot Butter”, led by American Stan Free.

Their work for Vanguard is available on a three-CD set called The Out Sound From Way In! The Complete Vanguard Recordings. The bonus CD features two remixes of “E.V.A.” by Fatboy Slim, remixes of “Winchester Cathedral” and “Lover’s Concerto” from Kaleidoscopic Vibrations as well as “Electronic Can-Can” and “Unidentified Flying Object,” each by techno artists Eurotrash.

Perrey has released four new CDs since the year 2000: Eclektronics – recorded in 1997 with musician David Chazam (Basta, 2000), and Circus of Life – recorded in 1999, with musician Gilbert Sigrist (PHMP, 2000). Perrey released The Happy Electropop Music Machine (2006), and Destination Space (2008), with musician and arranger Dana Countryman.

Perrey lives in France, and is in high demand for lectures and concerts all over the world. In August 2006, Perrey gave a concert tour with Dana Countryman, of Seattle, San Francisco and Hollywood, to support the release of “The Happy Electropop Music Machine” CD. Perrey performed in Russia, in April of 2007 with David Chazam, and Perrey and Countryman did a concert in Norway in September of 2007. In 2008, Perrey and Chazam performed in Bucharest, Romania, and in 2008, Perrey and Countryman gave concerts in Newcastle, England, New York City and Montreal, Canada to support the release of their “Destination Space” CD, also on Oglio Records.

Gershon Kingsley lives in New York City, and in 2007 was a featured performer, and received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at “MOOGFEST”, an annual celebration of Dr. Robert Moog and his synthesizers.

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