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about

‘Chicken on the Rocks’ is one of two pop numbers closing out Musique Electronique du Cosmos (Electronic Music from Outer Space), an album of library music that Perrey recorded in 1962 which otherwise comprises short atmospheric cues of layered Ondioline textures.

The album was commissioned by Sam S. Fiedel, who independently funded and released it, pitching the music to radio and television stations. Fiedel had heard Perrey’s recording experiments through the wall of the small studio that Carroll Bratman had set up for the Frenchman in the Carroll Musical Instrument Service building.

Another significant connection that Perrey made at Carroll’s was with the virtuoso percussionist, recording artist and educator Harry Breuer. Breuer was almost 30 years Perrey’s senior, but they struck up a potent creative partnership, later producing a cult-beloved instrumental album together for Pickwick Records entitled The Happy Moog (Perrey went uncredited, being contracted to Vanguard Records at the time).
Breuer co-wrote ‘Chicken on the Rocks’ and ‘Barnyard in Orbit’ – the latter featured later in this compilation - and contributed mallet percussion to both arrangements.

The scores for Musique Electronique du Cosmos (which bear the title Electronic Symphonie, Part III) mark the first appearance of Perrey’s significant writing pseudonym, Pat Prilly. Perrey used this name extensively in the 1970s when he produced a series of “Moogsperiment” LPs for the Montparnasse 2000 label in France. Scores for a number of other Electronic Suites co-composed by Perrey and Fiedel exist in Perrey’s archive, but no recordings of these pieces are known. Vinyl copies of Musique Electronique du Cosmos are now extremely rare (only 500 were pressed), and the small number that have surfaced have fetched incredibly high prices from diehard Perrey collectors.

The front cover of the album states that the music was “recorded in Paris” but the tracks were actually committed to tape in Fiedel’s New York apartment over many months of intermittent sessions. The misdirection was printed to avoid problems with the musician’s union since the budget for the recording was small and musicians played for less than union scale.

‘Chicken on the Rocks’ is based on the much-interpreted folk song ‘Chicken Reel’, composed by Joseph M. Daly in 1910. Harry Breuer had actually recorded his own version of the tune for Brunswick Records years earlier, as had Les Paul in his pioneering vari-speed multitracking style, a big inspiration for Perrey. But the flourishes of formants that Perrey coaxes from his Ondioline on this recording speak and squawk so freakishly that the track blasts out of its simple twelve-bar strictures into a realm all its own.

credits

from Jean​-​Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline, track released January 1, 1962
Jean-Jacques Perrey - Ondioline, producer, arranger
Sam S. Fiedel - producer, arranger
Harry Breuer - percussion

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Jean-Jacques Perrey Switzerland

Jean-Jacques Perrey (1929-2016) was an alternative pop visionary, pioneer of rhythmic tape-edit sampling techniques, and virtuoso of the rare French electronic musical instrument, the Ondioline.

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