R.I.P. Influential French Music Figure Jean-Pierre Massiera
The composer/producer was often called "the French Joe Meek"
Massiera — who also used the monikers JPM, Areisam and Sierra, among many others — reportedly passed away back on December 28. He was said to be 78.
Born on July 10, 1941, Massiera was not only known as "the French Joe Meek" but also referred to "the inventor of French progressive rock." In addition to working as a musician and composer, Massiera served as a record producer, sound engineer and recording studio owner, unloading an incredibly prolific amount of material between the '60s and '90s.
In addition to the aforementioned monikers, Massiera used one-off names such as Les Maledictus Sound, Horrific Child and Herman's Rocket, making his career path almost as confusing as his music itself. Like the legendary Joe Meek, Massiera stretched the boundaries of traditional sound recording, adding elements of musique concrète, field recordings and samples into pop structures. The results were unique, to say the least, with Massiera leaving behind a seriously ear-opening array of work.
While Massiera's early career saw him working with groups such as the Shadows and the Ventures, he formed the band Les Monégasques in 1964, with the project also featuring Pierre Malaussen, Fernand "Nicky" Cafiero and Jean Haumont.
By 1967, Massiera began his own recording studio called Studio d'Enregistrement Méditerranéen (SEM) in Nice, where he began to record a variety of musicians. Among them is the cult 1968 album by Les Maledictus Sound — a group whose work would be reissued both by Italy's Dagored imprint and Canada's Mucho Gusto Records. In fact, the Montreal imprint would go on to champion Massiera, reissuing a long string of his work in the 2000s.
The Quebec connection also makes sense, considering Massiera moved to the Canadian province in 1968 to set up a studio. However, his life in Canada was short-lived, as he returned to France the following year.
In the 1970s, Massiera worked at a dizzying pace, creating some of his most-loved efforts. Perhaps most famously, he composed and produced the self-titled album by Visitors in 1974 — a record that aimed to produce "psychedelic nightmare," though via an extraterrestrial theme. Various musicians contributed to the album, including vocalist Gérard Brent, violinist Didier Lockwood (later of Magma) and guitarist Bernard Torelli.
In 1976, Massiera also released his cult classic L'Etrange Mr. Whinster as Horrific Child, which now stands as one of his most-esteemed works thanks to a 2009 reissue by Finders Keepers. Votel's label also collected many of Massiera's works on the 2008 comp Midnight Massiera, which offered a stunning snapshot of the artist's very eclectic work.
Massiera would branch out even further in the late '70s and '80s, often embracing the "cosmic disco" movement. Included in this period was his record Space Woman as Herman's Rocket, whose title track would go on to become of his most well-known tracks.
Other more disco-geared efforts included his Galactic Soul album as Venus Gang. In 1978, Massiera also released his self-titled album as Human Egg, which further explored the realms of disco and left-field funk.
While Massiera was less prolific in the '80s, he still continued to produce various productions, including the "Inch Allah" 12-inch as Orient Express. During the decade, he also started the new studio Le Bar-sur-Loup, with Massiera still working in music into the 1990s.
Down below, you can find Votel's tribute post to Massiera, as well as a cross section of the French musician's various output.
A huge loss to the Finders🌐Keepers family and the end of an important lesser-thumbed chapter in experimental European conceptual pop music. The hairy godmother of French psychedelia... later to be the chief architect of French Cosmic Disco. RIP "Rest In Pastis" to the Maledictus Soundbwoy and all his alter-egos, possibly THEE most influential studio engineer I've ever taken endless inspiration from. Midnight Massiera / Goodnight Massiera / MASS APPEAL is due. Music will never sound the SEM. So glad we had time to share a few...🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 #RIPJPM #JeanPierreMassiera #HorrificChild #Visitors #SEM #StudioAntibes
We just found out through our pal @doug.shipton that the incomparable Jean-Pierre Massiera passed away a few days after Christmas. Considered "the French Joe Meek" because of his early use of tape samples, among other techniques, Massiera was a true pioneer in every sense of the word. Travel well Monsieur 🙏🏼✨ . #jeanpierremassiera . #Repost @doug.shipton ・・・ Just received word that the inimitable Jean-Pierre Massiera died just after Xmas. A true maverick and a big part of the Finders Keepers family 🖤