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Perrey and Kingsley

Related: synthesizer - electronic music - electropop - Moog

In search of space age pop

The Essential Perrey & Kingsley (1975) - Perrey & Kingsley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Hot Butter (1971)
image sourced here. [May 2005]


The musical duo Perrey and Kingsley (Jean-Jacques Perrey, b. 1923 and Gershon Kingsley, b. 1929), were pioneers in the field of electronic music. Prior to their collaboration in 1964, electronic music was considered to be purely avant-garde. The notion of electronic music for the masses was nearly unthinkable. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perrey_and_Kingsley [May 2005]

Popcorn (song)

"Popcorn" is a reasonably famous early synth-pop instrumental. Composer Gershon Kingsley (of Perrey and Kingsley) first recorded it for his 1969 album Music To Moog By. Stan Free rerecorded the instrumental and released it under the name "Hot Butter" in 1971. The record was one of a rash of Moog based releases that define "early synth-pop" for many people born in the 60's and 70's.

It's one of those pieces where, if you grew up in Europe, the United States or another European influenced country, you've probably heard it. The title most likely refers to the short staccato, or sharp "popping", sound used: --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn_%28song%29 [Apr 2005]

Hot Butter

"Hot Butter" is an alias for the keyboard player Stan Free. He's best known under his alias for the cover of the Moog synthpop instrumental "Popcorn", originally by Gershon Kingsley. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Butter [Feb 2006]

In Sound From Way Out (1966) - Perrey & Kingsley

In Sound From Way Out (1966) - Perrey & Kingsley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The end result of Perrey and Kingsley's first collabrative effort in 1966 combined Perrey's tape loops with Kingsley's live instrumentation and was filled with melodies and sounds like an animated cartoon gone berserk. It was titled The In Sound From Way Out! and was released on Vanguard that same year. Since this was decades before the advent of widespread digital technology, each cut took more than a week 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. The offbeat titles and happy, upbeat melodies added a genuine sense of humor to popular music years before another notable musician, Frank Zappa, would do likewise. In fact, "Unidentified Flying Object" and another of the album's cuts, "Electronic Can-Can" 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 "Swan Lake" while "Countdown At 6" borrowed from Amilcare Ponchielli's "Dance Of The Hours," much as Allan Sherman did in 1963 with his hit recording, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh." The final cut on the album, "Visa To The Stars" is 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. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perrey_and_Kingsley [May 2005]

Moog Indigo (1970) - Jean-Jacques Perrey

Moog Indigo (1970) - Jean-Jacques Perrey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

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." This slow, funky track is one of the most sampled in hip hop and rap music history. In the U.S., it is currently being used in a TV ad for Zelnorm, a prescription medication for, of all things, female irritable bowel syndrome. The same album produced "The Elephant Never Forgets" which is still being used as the theme of the Spanish Televisa comedy, "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 In Sound From Way Out! album in 1996, while Smash Mouth borrowed the opening riff from "Swan's Splashdown" for their 1997 hit, "Walking On The Sun," (who *didn't* ask for permission.) 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. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perrey_and_Kingsley#Their_impact_today [Feb 2006]

See also: Perry and Kingsley - 1975 - synth - space age - Moog

July, 1966


This is the wackiest record Vanguard has ever put out -- and good music too, as well as a lot of fun. You can even dance to the music, but don't try whistling it. Everything that the new art of electronic sounds can do, combined with some slightly bewildered regulation instruments, is here applied to a set of bouncy numbers, some with familiar tunes , others newly and delightfully composed.

What is the IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT! ? Atoms of pop music exploded into fresh patterns. It's electronic sound of pop music from the future. A sample of the strange new pleasure of a world which belongs to the space age. A sample of the electronic "Au Go Go" that might be heard soon from the juke boxes at the interplanetary way stations where space ships make their rest stops.

How is it produced? A new process called "Electronic Sono-synthesis" was created by Jean Jacques Perrey. To produce these syntheses not only musical instruments from electronic sources (Jenny Ondioline, Martenot Waves, etc.) but also sounds of natural origin (i.e. musique concrete) were used. These sounds were modified, transmuted, transformed, to the point of changing their harmonic structure - making out of them new, unprecedented original sonorities.

Each sound thus created was then prerecorded on tape, classified, cataloged by frequency and timbre. At the time of composing the "musical phrase", each sound was "isolated" and selected according to its nature. The sonorities were then painstakingly assembled by splicing each bit of tape together manually with micrometric precision to form the "melodic line" and / or the rhythmic structure of the piece chosen.

The synthetic rhythmic-melodic tape track thus created was then carefully synchronized with music played by live musicians on both electronic and natural instruments as well as with electronic sounds produced by oscillators, tone generators and feedback loops. Finally, through a complicated process of intricate overdubbing the likes of which we believe have never been done to this extent on records, a multi-channel tape master was produced embodying a synthesis of all electronic and natural elements.

The perpetrators of this riot of new sounds are Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley. Perrey, a Frenchman who has devoted his life to the study of electronic music, decided to take the mystery out of the machines that threatened to be the masters of men. Kingsley, a gifted composer of classical music, has an impressive Broadway background behind him as a conductor and arranger. Together Perrey and Kingsley pooling their considerable talents, have produced a record of musical joy and wit. So switch in to the switched-on IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT. --http://www.kingsleysound.com/Insound2.html [May 2005]

see also: 1966 - electronic music - electronic music from the 1960s

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