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Pierre Henry: “Futurama” Inspiration, Violent Femmes Collaborator & Remix Fawn

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Bouncing about the internets lately has been a fascinating YouTube video highlighting Pierre Henry’s 1967 track “Psyché Rock” and its immediate influence on the theme song to the animated series Futurama. As for the similarities – glaringly obvious; but who is Pierre Henry? Oh, just “the first formally educated musician to devote his energies to the electronic medium.” (All Music)

Henry ultimately helped found a moment amongst the electronic music community called musique concrète, a style that relied on environmental sounds to help shape its form. But that was going on back in the 1940s and ’50s, long before Frank Zappa introduced such pieces into his performances during the late ’60s. Oddly enough though, it was right about that time when Henry released the track that would later inspire a theme for a cartoon series on the unwavering Fox network, entertaining millions in the process.

What I find most interesting about Henry’s history, other than his vast influence on modern pop music, is how he shifted his focus as his career evolved. Essentially he attempted to go full circle, much of which would later go into revisiting his early inspirations, seemingly in an attempt to find the meaning behind his own passions in the process. On top of all that, around the age of eighty he collaborated with Wisconsin’s Violent Femmes for a track recorded in 1998, later to be released on the band’s Freak Magnet album in 2000.

This recording came shortly after the release of Métamorphose – Messe Pour Le Temps Présent, a collection of remixes put out in 1997 featuring the blazing remix of “Psyché Rock” by Fatboy Slim. The song ultimately serves as a direct link between the original and the Futurama theme, and if nothing else comes something 100% more listenable than the Femmes collaboration. While not entirely easy on the ears, it again proves Henry’s willingness to create something irregular and drive to imagine music that has never been heard before.