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PLATE LUNCH catalog #: PL08


Bernard Parmegiani - Pop'eclectic / released October 1999



1: Du Pop a l'ane (1969) 10:16
2: Pop'eclectic (1968) 11:06
3: Jazzex (1966) 16:57 *
4: Et après...(1973) 11:47 **

Total running time: 50:06


* with: J-L.Chautemps, Bernard Vitet, Gilbert Rovère, Charles Saudrais
** with: Michel Portal

The copyrights of all four tracks from the
CD "Pop'eclectic" by Bernard Parmegiani
are property of the Ina/GRM.
Plate Lunch likes to thank them for their
help and support in making this CD possible.



An absolutely essential release, this is four tracks from the 1960s and 1970s by this undisputed Maestro of electro-acoustic composition. This distinguished French composer enjoyed a brief flurry of fame recently when two modern electro- wank jokers unexpectedly eulogised him in their interview for the UK's best- loved modern music newsstand periodical. Soon thereafter, the staff at These Records reported an unusually high level of interest from their clientele in the work of Parmegiani. In particular, everyone wanted to secure a copy of "De Natura Sonorum", which by that time had just been deleted by INA GRM in France. I know this because I too was one of these sad buffoons - and arrived right at the end of the queue, as usual...
As we unsuccessful shoppers retire to lick our wounds, let's enjoy this superb helping of work from the great man, compiled by the Plate Lunch team with assistance from the INA-GRM label.
The first two tracks belong together - they are "sampled" tapestries (from before a time when sampling was even used as a term) woven from late-1960s pop- records and other sources, and both are vital, exciting works. "Du Pop à L'ane" dates from 1969, and "Pop'Eclectic" from the year before. Both of these showcase Parmegiani's consummate skill in assembling his sources; the relational and organisational skills he is gifted with are phenomenal. These are not random escapades romping through the history of pop-records; he has listened carefully to everything, found significant relationships between the sonorities and texts of his segments, and exploited these similarities to the full. He takes pop- miniatures and creates a vast, full-colour, widescreen tableau of sound. On "Du Pop à L'ane" there's a narrative trajectory discernible, from the innocence of Beatles-era pop to the madness of acid-trips - and thence to the mindless violence of Vietnam. But these nuances are subtly suggested through deft strokes, not hammered home. On the 1968 track (which was composed as a soundtrack to a film shown on French TV the following year), we hear expert mixing of unrelated drum tracks, rhythm guitars and organ passages, mixed together with white noise - wouldn't you love to have him remix your record?! Through juxtaposition of lush string arrangments with female soprano choirs, he suggests the ghost of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. He's gone beyond "A Day in the Life" and taken a taxi to the end of the night! This is unpatronising, non- ironic and intelligent use of pop sources by someone who knows good music and good sounds when he hears them - and is sympathetic to the ideas too. "Jazzex" is from 1966, a time when Free Jazz ruled the civilised world and Albert Ayler was about to be elected President of the United States. I'm being euphemistic. Parmegiani arranged to record a work with a french quartett of free jazz players, with the only stipulation that his prepared tape-work be woven into the performance. Their freedom was chanelled and directed - to produce this amazing work. I think there are some post-production effects too (the occasional dollop of reverb) that enhance the vitality of this piece. "Et Après..." is no less extraordinary, comprising treatments of an accordion...playing tango music! Another "popular" source is transmogrified into sublime, mysterious droneworks (shades of Pauline Oliveros). Awesome.
In all, another revelatory experience from this great man. How many people were doing this 30 years ago, melding free jazz and pop music with such wild electro- acoustic treatments? Now this is what I call modern! John Zorn (no less a man)recently contacted this label in Germany and wrote that he thinks the CD to be "one of the most important releases in a long time" and it will be an "exciting historical release". You got that right, Johnny...

from: SOUND PROJECTOR #8 (UK), 12/2000 - written by: Ed Pinsent

I just heard your release by Parmegiani, "Pop'eclectic", and I think it is one of the most important releases in a long time... Congratulations on an exciting historical release!

from: John Zorn, October 2000

Bernard Parmegiani lässt seine elektroakustische Musik der Strenge der akademischen Welt entfliehen und wagt eine Annäherung an populäre Musik. Dies äußert sich eigentlich nur im Aufbau der Musik; die klangliche Radikalität wurde an keiner Stelle zugunsten einer größeren Akzeptanz zurückgeschraubt. Das knistrige Stimmgewirr und die feinziselierten Töne unbekannter Herkunft überlagern sich in einer Freestyle-Collage, die aus sich selbst fast so etwas wie einen Groove generiert. Ein äusserst empfehlenswertes Album.

from: "Auf Abwegen" # 29, summer 2000 review: Zipo

One of Schaeffer's brightest students, Bernard Parmegiani, is best known for his austere investigation of pure tones and timbres. But, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Parmegiani composed a series of pieces that foreshadowed John Oswald in their liberal and irreverent cut-ups of pop music. Recently released as "Pop'eclectic" (Plate Lunch PL08, ****), Parmegiani's works are as hilarious and goofy in their references as they are masterful in their compositional skill. Cheesy organ vamps are beautifully spliced with operatic fragments and saxophone bleats to form an utterly compelling hybrid that defies categories.

from: PULSE! # 193 (USA) 6/2000 - taken from the article "Sampling in Classical Music" by Christoph Cox


Die CD "Pop'eclectic" gefällt mir beim ersten Reinhören AUSGEZEICHNET. Der Mann Parmegiani hat ja Plunderphonics schon 20 Jahre vor John Oswald erfunden. Auch weiß ich jetzt, von wem "Nurse with Wound" beeinflußt ist.

from: Felix Kubin, May, 16th, 2000


Parmegiani's "Violostres" double CD is simply some of the best and most intimidating music I've ever heard - dense, and completely unpredictable. Each subsequent listen takes my breath away. It's a solid collection, with no filler, and until this CD, the only Parmegiani release in my household. The pieces on this CD are a bit less impressive, but only in comparison to the mastery of "Violostres". The opening piece, "Du pop a l'ane" is a collage featuring a heavy-handed use of stereo separation that is mighty disorienting. Piano, bongos, jazz music, guitar and bass riffs, spooky organ, orchestral music, all cut-up and arranged in a manner that allows each segment of sound to remain distinct. Except for the crazed panning, this is a very "dry" piece, without the richness of sound I was expecting. Plays like a jump-cut chamber orchestra spiced up with some found sounds, but the recording remains "flat" or "dry", making me want to turn the volume up, which doesn't really help either. The title track is much better- a bass riff that was also used on "Du pop a l'ane" repeats throughout the beginning, over and under massively cut up fragments of music and noise. The "pop" elements, that is, the repetition of percussive musical riffs taken from other records, makes this sound very "now". But this 1968 recording is over 30 years old. Amazing stuff - especially around the 7 minute mark, when everything seems to slow down and float in a thick sea of echoed loops and moans. The use of tapes mixing instrumental music and found noises in a mixed blur also brings to mind Faust's "Faust Tapes". 1966's "Jazzex" features four jazz musicians "playing in a completely free style" along to a tape prepared by Parmegiani. Except for the stand-up bass, who plays it a little too cool, this plays less like free jazz and more like the abstract "fake chamber jazz" on those early Zappa albums. The tape sounds are not very upfront in the mix, and the piece is dominated by the horns, which are "out" but not absolutely free, so to speak. The second half of the 16 minute piece sees the jazzmen chilling out a bit, allowing the tape a bit more breathing room. The closing track includes a "bandoneon", which is a small accordion, playing a tango-like theme alongside a tape of manipulated sounds from the bandoneon itself. An analog synth sequence pops in around the 6 minute mark, and as the bando' plays on, it sounds like some grinning, mad Argentine trying to aggravate a somber, purposeful Klaus Schulze. All in all, it's good to have more Parmegiani music available on CD, and this collection is worth the purchase just for the wonderful title track.

from: ANGBASE #5 (USA) May 2000 reviewed by: Carlos Pozo


Born in 1927, Bernard Parmegiani had little formal musical tuition and originally trained and worked as a sound engineer. But in his dedication to electroacoustic music, he combines an improvisor's intuition with a composer's sense of form. Unfortunately, only a fraction of Parmegiani's output has been recorded. His tightly structured "De Natura Sonorum" from 1975 appeared last year on INA. However, none of the tracks here quiete approaches that masterpiece of electronic abstraction. "Et apres"(1973) comes closest, even though it features a real-time instrument in Michel Portal's bandoneon. The track opens with a gauzy, tango-like backdrop to Portal's huffings and sputterings. The bandoneon is treated so that it eventually comes across as a choir merging seamlessly with the electronic sounds.
The other three tracks, from 1966-1969, are more clearly in the musique concrète tradition. "Du Pop A L'Ane" is a collage of pop and symphonic sounds, but Parmegiani avoids - or simply lacked the resources to adopt - the mosaic approach of plunderphonics. His extracts are longer and often readily identifiable, with quotes from Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring", Messiaen's "Quartett For The End Of The Time" and Beethoven, set against jazz and Latin music and snippets of spoken voice and radio announcements. "Pop'eclectic" is an "electroacoustic divertimento", which mixes natural and synthetic sounds with a prominent role for Mantovani's sweeping strings and pop samples. "Jazzex"(1966) has the least enduring impact. A running electroacoustic tape accompanies a group of French free jazz musicans, but the live music is uninspired and the recording very boxy - then again, most of these recordings are showing signs of age. But this is a much-needed collection from an important period of a neglected master.

from: THE WIRE # 193, March 2000 reviewed by: Andy Hamilton


The record by Bernard Parmegiani looks like a vintage one, until, reading the sleeve liner notes, you realize it is... a vintage record! Four previously unreleased tracks written between 1966 and 1973, where the legendary French composer, a milestone of the INA-GRM and a key figure for the development of musique concrète, shows all of his great talent. "Du Pop à l'Ane" is a dynamic and funny patchwork of someone else's musics (symphonic, jazz, beat, The Doors of "Spanish Caravan" and "When the Music Is Over", Mozart, Messiaen...), the title track, originally written as a soundtrack for a Foldès film, is an electroacoustic scherzo with unconsciously exotic space effects; while the last ones "Jazzex" and "Et Après..." respectively force a free jazz combo (multi-instrumentalis Bernard Vitet will bring this experience with Parmegiani directly into Un Drame Musical Instantané) and an accordeon player (Michel Portal) to come to terms with sound directly fixed on magnetic tape. After all, listening to people like Parmegiani, you realize that Nurse With Wound, Zorn & Co., though genial ones, have not invented (almost) anything, and the various trendy DJs, turntablists and new electronica freaks too: not bad for a brisk old man born in 1927 who, at the time of these recordings, was already in his forties!

from: BLOW UP/Italy January 2000 reviewed by: Nicola Catalano



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