on the reissue of jean hoyoux’s planètes (1981 / 2017)


Jean Hoyoux – Planètes (1981 / 2017)

In the instance that overlap is noticed, this is a slightly modified version of a review that was originally published by SoundOhm.

If our era has taught us anything – one defined as much by the repositioning of past legacies, as it is by contemporary efforts, it is that there are in infinite number of versions of history. Some remain primary, others fade – replaced by previously forgotten artifacts emerging from the fog of time. Over the course of the last decade, the reissue, particularly those of lost and obscure gems, has become a cultural phenomena – increasingly playing a role in the contemporary musical landscape. They have helped sculpt better understandings of past creative movements, and pointed us toward singular visionaries who were neglected my their own time. Jean Hoyoux’s Planètes, originally issued on the tiny imprint CRETS (Centre de Recherches et d’Etudes en Thérapies Sonores) in 1981, and now emerging as the first entry in Cortizona’s catalog, operates on both planes.

Jean Hoyoux remains a mysterious figure. He was Belgian psychologist, astrologer, and musician who released two albums during the early 80’s, and seems to have died shortly after. Little information is available, beyond the fact that he was dedicated to the study of the healing properties of music – the guiding theme of the album we have before us. Healing Music has a well documented history. The idea at its root – the quest for arrangements of sounds and structures, which might better the well being of the listener, is one of the primary themes of the New Age movement – beginning during the late 1960’s, stretched across the 70’s, and flowered during the early 80’s. It left an immense catalog of efforts in electronics, synthesis, field recording, ambience, and previously unexplored arrangements of instrumentation in its wake. Long cast as self-indulgent tangents of the hippie movement, Healing Music and the larger body of New Age, have been among of the great benefactors of the cultural reappraisals taking place in our own time. Free from the stigmas of their day, we can see them for what they were – logical successors of musical Minimalism, and extensions of efforts begun at studios like Groupe de Recherches Musicales and The San Fransisco Tape Music Centre.

Planètes previously gained broader recognition as a member of Creel Pone’s iconic series of avant-garde electronic masterpieces. Given the label’s connection to Keith Fullerton Whitman’s unmatched knowledge and connoisseurship, this offers a clue into the album’s singularity. Though firmly entrenched in the ideas of New Age, it largely steps free of that movement’s sonic signifiers – so much so, that when heard without context and as a whole, connections are hard fought. It is its own alternate reality. One so strange and incongruous that it forces questions about the true motives of the psychologist at its helm – at moments making me think of Panos Cosmatos’ remarkable film Beyond the Black Rainbow, which eludes to some of the darker corners of New Age thought.


Beyond The Black Rainbow Trailer (2012)

The album is an immersion within seven sonic worlds. A series of synthesizer experiments – at movements explicitly avant-garde, at others forging equally strong connections to the German movement of Kosmische. Shifting from one to the next, it’s steeped ambience, drone, total abstraction, quirky meandering melody, and flirtations with rhythm. Despite the ease of available reference, any connection to a larger cultural movement feels accidental – the result of overlapping technology, rather than shared conceit. It’s the voice of a musical outsider, looking beyond the sounds themselves.

Planètes is one of those strange esoteric music artifacts, which stands appart, while opening windows and joining the dots. Available on vinyl for the first time since its original issue, you can check out a couple tracks below, and pick it from SoundOhm, or a record store near you.

-Bradford Bailey


Jean Hoyoux –  La Blancheur Ouverture, from Planètes (1981)


Jean Hoyoux – La Marssivité, from Planètes (1981)





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