Electronic music became a prominent genre in the 1970s thanks to the work of groups like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, but they weren't the first groups to pioneer this sound. Some of the earliest popular electronic music was created by the duo of Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley. However, the music this avant-garde duo created wasn't atmospheric space rock; instead, they utilized early synthesizers and experimental studio techniques to create lighthearted pop instrumentals. A good introduction to their work can be found on The Essential Perrey & Kingsley, a collection that conveniently packages together their two albums The In Sound From Way Out and Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog. The material from The In Sound From Way Out is half avant-garde experiment and half comedy album: Perrey & Kingsley mix traditional instrumentation and pre-Moog keyboards like the Ondioline with tape loops of bizarre sound effects and animal noises to create music that is spacy and silly all at once. For instance, "Jungle Blues From Jupiter" marries a traditional blues melody to a kitschy keyboard sound and intersperses the melody with corny animal noises, while "Girl From Venus" layers some spare keyboard lines over tape loops of cartoon-style sound effects. The music that results is too caught up in its own gimmickry to succeed as straight pop music (the sound effects compete with the melodies instead of fleshing them out), yet remains strangely listenable. The material from Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog benefits from the introduction of the title synthesizer, which creates a more sophisticated electronic sound, and a greater concentration on creating catchy pop melodies. Over half of this material is covers; highlights in this vein include a lightning-fast synth version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" and a remake of "Third Man Theme" that sounds like carnival music from outer space. However, the best tunes from this half of the album are the originals: "The Savers" is a fast-paced slice of electronic pop built on a flurry of ornate synthesizer riffs, and "Baroque Hoedown" successfully marries two very different genres of music using a clever arrangement that seamlessly blends the harpsichord and the synthesizer. In the end, The Essential Perrey & Kingsley is probably a little too kitschy and eccentric for the average listener, but makes a tidy and never dull collection for the adventurous lounge music admirer.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco