Jean-Jacques Perrey's "E.V.A." has been sampled by countless hiphop and electronic producers, including DJs Premier and Spooky. It's not surprising: the track's sprightly, skipping funk rhythm, sparkling Moog burbles, playful bass line, and resonant bell tones never fail to raise your spirits. Released in 1970, "E.V.A." is the epitome of electronic space-age bachelor-pad music.
But "E.V.A." isn't representative of Perrey's solo work nor his frequent collaborations with Gershon Kingsley. The signature Perrey sound is delightfully unhinged, texturally kooky, instantly memorable. He was one of the first musicians to capitalize on the late-1960s Moog-synthesizer phenomenon. From that marvelous instrument, Perrey coaxed an amazing array of goofy sounds while composing insanely cheerful ditties—twee, psychedelic curios built to last. In his songs, the avant-garde and kitsch clash, resulting in an exalted novelty music.
Now 77, Perrey is touring the U.S. for the first time. Joining him onstage will be Everett's Dana Countryman, a musician/composer who became obsessed with Perrey as a teen after hearing one of Perrey's tunes on TV in 1971. It wasn't until 1994 that Countryman contacted the Frenchman to interview him for a publication he'd started. "I stumbled upon a book called Incredibly Strange Music, which had an extensive interview with Perrey, and it was one of those epiphany moments."
In 2003 they started work on what would become The Happy Electropop Music Machine! (out September 26 on Oglio). Last August, Perrey traveled to Countryman's Everett studio (an analog-synth wonderland) to work in 12-hour bursts on the disc. Countryman fleshed out the basic tracks with other instrumentation and the duo completed the songwriting and mixing process via the internet.
What drew Countryman to Perrey's music was its "feeling of happiness and downright joy. There is a playful, childish quality to many of his songs, and I think that is a very universal feeling that actually appeals to children of all ages—adults, too. Also, I recognize the incredible cleverness of his music, and have always admired his skills at writing well-crafted melodies."
During the making of the record, did Countryman ever crave something with more gravity and darkness? It seems like this style could drive one crazy if exposed to it enough.
[Laughs] "Well, in a way, you're right!" Countryman admits. "Much of the music on the CD is incredibly zany and happy. But we purposely aimed this project in that direction, especially because his last two CDs (Eclektronics and Circus of Life) had darker edges. This project was a deliberate return to JJ's classic Vanguard Records period—focusing on the happy tunes, and zippy, goofy tape loops. We really felt that we needed to do a happy CD, to try and hopefully counteract all the negative stuff that is floating around out there."
Perrey and Countryman play Sun Aug 27 at Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333, 7:30 pm, $15 adv/$18 DOS, all ages.
THURSDAY AUGUST 24
The Maryland prodigy will be playing a "laptop symphony." Should be awesomely bombastic and bathetic. I'd go, but I have a meeting with my guru. With Dig-Dug, DJ Reaction. Trinity, 111 Yesler Way, 447-4140, 9 pm—2 am, 21+.
FRIDAY AUGUST 25
Head of the respected Chez label, house DJ Neil Aline holds three club residencies in the competitive NYC market. Anyone who runs a company that puts out a killer remix (by Franky Boissy) of George Kranz's proto-tribal-house classic "Din Daa Daa" is more than all right by me. I'll likely go see Aline spin records/CDs/MP3s, provided I can finish chanting down Babylon that evening. With Brent Laurence & Jon Lee. War Room, 722 E Pike St, 328-7666, 9 pm—2 am, $5, 21+.
SATURDAY AUGUST 26
The implied manifesto of Bootylib is Funkadelic's "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow," advice that has served humanity well for over three decades. Helping people liberate their butts tonight is Saul T, Decibel fest director Sean Horton's DJ alter ego. Promoter/DJ Lincolnup writes that Saul will "be lighting up the dance floor with a hittin' set of Chicago house, Detroit techno, funk, and of course booty bass." Filling out the bill are Bootylib residents Recess, ASsCHOP, and Lincolnup. I'll be there if I can get myself to stop reading Das Kapital. Des Amis, 1013 E Pike St, 322-0703, 9 pm—2 am, free before 11 pm/$5 after, 21+.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 30
RADIOINACTIVE, BIGG JUS
L.A. rapper/producer Radioinactive spews dense, surreal narratives—think Paul Barman on amphetamines—that you have to keep rewinding to grok. But if you miss 'em, Radio's music is captivating enough to overcome those lyrical gaps. Formerly a member of Mush Records' quirk-laden stable, Radio has issued his latest album, Soundtrack to a Book, on Stranger Touch. It's my least favorite Radio work, but any bill with him and ex-Company Flow MC Bigg Jus is bound to be more exciting than alphabetizing your DVDs. With La Jae, Mestizo, Rheteric. Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 8 pm—2 am, $8 adv, all ages.