I am delighted to have contributed the liner note essay for a very special reissue project: a selection of Jean-Jacques Perrey's pieces performed on Georges Jenny's proto-synthesiser the Ondioline.
These super-rare and in some cases never-before-released examples of early electronic music have been lovingly restored and elegantly packaged under the auspices of a new label, Forgotten Futures - the passion project of Wally De Backer, also known as Gotye.
In the essay for Jean-Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline, I position Perrey among the "friendly futurists":musicians who embraced the new technology but applied it to purposes of entertainment and relaxation rather than lofty and forbidding avant-garde ends. Perrey's instincts were melodic and groove-oriented, so when he deployed tape-splice trickery and electronic keyboards, the result was generally antic whimsy (The In Sound From Way Out, with Gershon Kinsley) or beguiling wistfulness. "What drew him to the Ondioline – and drove the dedication that made him become the instrument’s virtuoso non pareil – was the combination of its mimetic powers (the way it could substitute for existing instruments and lend itself to pastiche, stylistic allusion, and sonic witticisms in the style of his beloved Spike Jones) with its plangent emotionalism, the uniquely yearning ache of its timbre."
The deluxe vinyl package is the true objet du désir, for sure, but those digitally-inclined can partake via jean-jacquesperrey.bandcamp.com
Look out for more electronic archaeology from Forgotten Futures in the year ahead.