Dana Countryman

Moog-Tastic!

Oglio

countrymanAfter two collaborations with electropop legend Jean-Jacques Perrey, retro-synthesizer whiz Countryman finally finishes the debut album he started eight years ago.

As he states in his liners, the all-instrumental “Moog-Tastic!” is not an album made up of “mere sequences, disco rhythms, self-running patches, New Age-ish chord washes and rambling transitions,” but rather real melodies composed for electronic music.

And a few choice covers like “Day Tripper,” a throwback to the ’60s when Moog albums typically featured a Beatles tune or two or three. Toward the end of the track, Countryman deftly interweaves references to several Fab Four songs. Real drums are played by Rick Bowen, and there’s a banjo harmonium solo by latter-day Mott the Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher.

Also covered are Ennio Morricone’s theme to the 1971 film “La Califfa,” which Countryman rearranged for synthesizer with an ear toward solos for the Ondioline and three-time world champion Dutch whistler Geert Chatrou; and “Storm Over Beethoven,” a bombastic rock duet for synthesizer and drums based on the third movement of “Moonlight Sonata.”

Other highlights include the originals “Have Mersey on My Moog” (with a tasty harmonica break); “Vinnie’s Theme” (featuring stellar turns by session guitar great Vinnie Bell on electric sitar and electric “Water” guitar, both of which Bell invented); “Cocktails in Space” (sporting a jazz guitar solo by eclectic L.A. musician/producer Skip Heller); and “Farewell Mr. Rota” (a nod to another Italian film composer, Nino Rota, that makes extensive use of a controller allowing Countryman’s modular synthesizer to be played like a Theremin).

Lending support elsewhere are Dutch singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Fay Lovsky, who plays a real Theremin on the hybrid 18th-century classical/1950s sci-fi “Deserted Planet”; and Jean-Jacques Perrey, who contributes some of his famous “crazy tape loops” to “Jean-Jacques’ Theme,” a song that could accompany a Mack Sennett one-reeler — if they had synthesizers in 1937!gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Lovesick Martian Boy
2. Have Mersey On My Moog
3. Day Tripper
4. Vinnie’s Theme
5. Deserted Planet
6. Ragtime For Robots
7. Memories Of Paris
8. Cocktails In Space
9. Farewell Mr. Rota
10. Halloween At Moog Manor
11. Jean-Jacques’ Theme
12. La Califfa
13. Storm Over Beethoven
14. hidden track

Total time: 49:24

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Jean-Jacques Perrey and Dana Countryman

Destination Space

Oglio

After a brief cinematic prologue, “Destination Space” blasts off with the title track — a “Hang ‘Em High”-esque theme with the most-natural-sounding guitar, bass and organ sounds ever to come out of a synthesizer. About a minute in, the truly synthetic sounds take over, but only for a while before backing out into Spaghetti-Western Land again.

This and Perrey’s other collaboration with Everett, Wash.-based synthesist Countryman seem to confirm the 80-year-old Frenchman’s return from retirement. But whereas 2006’s “The Happy Electropop Music Machine” stuck to Perrey’s signature cartoon-style Moog music, “Destination Space” overall is more serious and varied, with most of the songs split between science fiction, spy rock and romantic.

“The Spy From Outer Space” has a “Peter Gunn” rhythm and/or could have been inspired by the Jon and Vangelis tune “Friends of Mr. Cairo.” It also features exquisite Theremin work by by Kevin “Sukho” Lee of Seksu Roba.

“Café Brasilia” is a laid-back bossa nova. “The Mysterious Mr. Him” assumes a Hank Mancini persona, complete with real horns (The Atomic Big Band — actually four guys multitracking trumpets, trombones and saxes with some tasty flute soloing as well). Swing is revisited later, in a 1940s vein and without real horns, on “Little Brown Moog,” a pastiche of Glenn Miller hits.

The album’s unexpected delight is “Funky Little Spacegirl,” with its Frampton-like vocoder and electric sitar. And speaking of trippy vocals, the album rides off into space with “Beyond the Milky Way,” Perrey & Countryman’s first song with lyrics; with its 100 percent synthesized vocals, it really lives up to its “Carpenters meet ELO in outer space” billing.

All of the songs are Perrey-Countryman originals, with the exception of “Rhapsody,” a classical-sounding piece written by Countryman; “Pour L’amour de Toi,” a composition Perrey wrote 40 years ago with pianist Gil Sigrist that the two finally got to record together; and a cover of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1.”

Tracks
1. Prologue
2. Destination Space
3. The Spy From Outer Space
4. Kittens On The Moon
5. Café Brasilia
6. The Mysterious Mr. Him
7. Funky Little Spacegirl
8. Rhapsody
9. The Girl From Berlin
10. Barn Dance On Saturn
11. Agent 29’s Escape
12. Venusian Love Duet
13. 18th Century Robot
14. Little Brown Moog
15. Calypso Electronica
16. Pour L’amour De Toi
17. Beyond The Milky Way
18. Gymnopédie No. 1

Total time: 1:02:14

External links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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