on bernard parmegiani’s rock, bande originale du film (1982), the debut release from transversales disques

Bernard Parmegiani – Rock, Bande Originale Du Film (1982 / 2017)

For my generation of peers, Bernard Parmegiani’s legacy has risen to towering proportions. When inquiring after the great composers of 20th Century electronic and electroacoustic music, his name is almost always at the top – the great master of his field, demanding profound respect and adoration. It seems strange, but this wasn’t always the case. Against his peers at the legendary Parisian electroacoustic studio, Groupe De Recherches Musicales – Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari, François Bayle, etc, Parmegiani was once among the most obscure. Unlike other figures of his era who suffered neglect, his was not a consequence of a challenging or misunderstood body of work, it was that his efforts were largely focused in other areas – working in film and television for most of his life, rather than occupying the public eye. He was always there, but lingering in the background, something which the new Paris based imprint Transversales Disques is attempting to amend. Their premier release, an LP comprised of Parmegiani’s stunning soundtrack for the 1982 film Rock, delves into this incredible, but under-explored body of the composer’s work – a product of his believe in image as a means to introduce audiences to more adventurous territories of sound. As noble and remarkable as they come.

Parmegiani began his creative life as a mime – humorous, given that he dedicated his life to sound, but also a key to understanding great deal of his work. He was composer filled with humor, who, through his profound belief in the potential of electronic and electroacoustic sound, shattered the orthodoxies of Western Classical music, integrating it into every day life through theater, radio, film, and television.

Parmegiani joined Groupe De Recherches Musicales in 1959, shortly after its founding, but his discography from the first thirty years of that relationship, only yields a handful of releases. This is not because he wasn’t active. He was incredibly prolific, just not where most music fans look. Rather creating numerous LPs, he worked across a diverse range of mediums and contexts, with an extensive, but largely unreleased, body of work for application within film and television – most produced during his long tenure as the head of the Music/Image division of French television.

Rock, Parmegiani’s previously unreleased soundtrack for Michel Treguero’s film from 1982, is one such case, while equally an incredibly unique and singular artifact within his output. It sounds very little like what we’ve heard from him before. Recorded in his own studio with the TR-808 drum-machine, Synthi AKS, Farfisa organ, and Clavinet, it is a window into the composer’s diverse capacity, and rich and playful sense of humor, drifting far closer to the territories explored by John Carpenter and François de Roubaix, or by members of the Berlin School of 1980’s electronic music. Particularity when faced against the works for which he is most well know, it’s completely mesmerizing. To be honest, I’ve been totally obsessed with it since it first crossed my desk – definitely one of the best things I’ve heard all year. Bubbling and rich, rhythmic, textural, and droning, it’s a dark dystopian odyssey, confoundingly rising with a sense of brilliant intellectual optimism. While its pallet and structures are unfamiliar, like so much of  Parmegiani’s work, Rock is at once challenging, rigorous, and accessible. It displays astounding sonic beauty, while skirting far closer to the pop realms than almost any other composer of his day. This is electronic music at its absolute best, and a striking lens into Parmegiani’s radical, optimistic humor and joy within the spectrum of sound.

An incredible place for Transversales Disques to begin – one of the 20th Century’s most important composers, as few have ever heard him. An overwhelming and engrossing joy to listen to, as well as historically important on every count. Remastered from the original master tapes and accompanied by exclusive liner notes. This one is as essential as records come. You can check it out below, and pick up from Transversales Disques, SoundOhm, or from a record store near you.

Bradford Bailey

 

Bernard Parmegiani – Rock, Bande Originale Du Film (1982 / 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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