CULT CLASSIC: PHILOPSIS.
Cult Classic: Philopsis.
Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in library music, with British and European independent record labels releasing lovingly curated compilations that are welcomed by a coterie of musical connoisseurs who have a passion for library music. This includes DJs, producers and record collectors who are willing to pay large sums of money to add rare releases to their collections of library music.
Many British collectors of library music started off collecting releases by labels like KPM, De Woife, Amphonic, Conroy and Sonoton from the sixties, seventies early eighties, which is regarded by many collectors as a golden age for library music. This is ironic as albums of library music were never meant to fall into the hands of collectors.
Originally, library music was meant to be used by film studios or television and radio stations, and was never meant to be commercially available. The music was recorded on spec by music libraries who often hired young unknown composers, musicians and producers. This ranged from musicians who were known within publishing circles, to up-and-coming musicians who later, went onto greater things, and look back fondly at their time writing, recording and producing library music. This they now regard as part of their musical apprenticeship.
For the musicians hired to record library music, their remit was to music libraries with a steady stream of new music, which was originality referred to as production music. During some sessions, the musicians’ remit was write and record music to match themes or moods. This wasn’t easy, but after a while they were able to this seamlessly. Soon, the musicians were able to enter the audio and write and record a piece of music that matched a theme or mood for a film or television show.
Once the library music was recorded, record libraries sent out demonstration copies of their music to advertising agencies, film studios, production companies, radio stations and television channels. If they liked what they heard, they would license a track or several tracks from the music libraries. That was how it was meant to work.
Sometimes, copies of these albums fell into the hands of record collectors, who realising the quality of music recorded by these unknown musicians, started collecting library music. However, it always wasn’t easy to find copies of the latest albums of library music. That was until the arrival of the CD.
Suddenly, record collectors and companies across Britain were disposing of LPs, and replacing them with CDs. It didn’t matter that the prices of LPs were at all-time low, some record collectors just wanted rid of their collection they were replacing with CDs. With people literally dumping LPs, all sorts of musical treasure was available to record collectors who didn’t believe the hype about CD. This included everything from rare psych and progressive rock right through to albums of library music. These albums were often found in car boot sales, second hand shops and charity for less than a skinny latte macchiato.
This was the case throughout the period that vinyl fell from grace, and suddenly, it was possible for collectors of British library music to add to their burgeoning collections. Gradually, longtime collectors of library music had huge and enviable collections and were almost running out of new music to collect. Some of them decided that the time had come to see what European library music had to offer.
Now these collectors had a whole continent’s worth of library music to discover. Some collectors were like magpies buying albums from all over Europe, while others decided to concentrate on just one country or company. Although it was more expensive to collect European library music, gradually, enviable new collections started to take shape.
This includes French, German and Italian library music which was recorded during the sixties and seventies. One of the rarest French library records of the seventies was Philopsis which was released in 1978 on Freesound, an imprint of the British publisher Ambient Music which was dedicated only to French composers. At the heart of the Philopsis project was Jacky Giordano who was a somewhat mysterious musician.
Over the last few years, the an air of mystique hangs over Jacky Giordano’s recordings, as well as the albums he recorded using various aliases. This includes Discordance, G. Serili, Jacky Nodaro, Joachim Sherylee and José Pharos. The enigmatic French organist music has gained a cult status, especially amongst a coterie of connoisseurs of library music.
In 1973, Jacky Giordano and Francis Personne recorded Rythmes Et Mélodies an album of library music for Sonimage. His next album was released on Freesound, where he released what’s recorded as the best library music of his career.
Collectors and connoisseurs of library music believe that Jacky Giordano’s Freesound years were the highpoint of his career. His This includes 1974s Challenger and Schifters which he recorded with Yan Tregger. However, four years would pass before Jacky Giordano released another album on Freesound.
Two years later, in 1976, he released Pop In… Devil’s Train on André Farry’s Editions Montparnasse 2000 label. It’s regarded as another of Jacky Giordano’s finest albums.
During this period, he could do no wrong and released Jacky Giordano Organ in 1977 on L’Illustration Musicale. So was the followup Jacky Giordano Organ Plus in 1978. These two albums of library music are highly collectable and it was no surprise in 2019 when they were reissued again. However, the other album Jacky Giordano recorded in 1978 was his library music masterpiece Philopsis for Freesound
Philopsis is instantly recognisable because of the portrait on the album cover. Just like Jacky Giordano, there’s an air of mystery to this enigmatic figure. With a cover that captured the imagination, the music on Philopsis was very different to what many people expected.
Many misguided critics of library music often put forward the same tired and inaccurate argument that the music was bland, lacking in inspiration and imagination and was mostly jingles that were used by the advertising industry. How wrong they were and proof of that was Philopsis.
On Philopsis, Jacky Giordano was accompanied by Yan dY’s. This it’s thought included his old friend and colleague Yan Tregger which was an alias for Edouard Scotto Di Suoccio. Nowadays, Yan Tregger is regarded as one of the forgotten heroes of European library music. Another musician who worked on Philopsis was Francis Personne, who later worked as a sound engineer and on numerous eighties zouk productions. Jacky Giordano and his group experimented as they recorded Philopsis.
The resulting album of jazz-funk that Jacky Giordano and friends recorded features is best described as veering between light, airy and spacious to futuristic with sci-fi synths a feature of album opener Jumbo Flash. Quite different is the tough and funky sound of Magolia. Callisto is a jazzy jam where this talented band play within themselves. They manage to resist the urge to kick loose. Athanor has a seventies experimental sound that again, is futuristic. Supplice Form sounds as if it’s been written with a military drama in mind, while Agharta sounds like the soundtrack to space-age cop show.
Just like Supplice Form, there’s a military influence to the drums on Usine Inhumaine while the rest of the arrangement has a sci-fi sound. Steel Mongoes has a tough funky sound and wouldn’t sound out of place as part of the soundtrack to a seventies cop show. By contrast Screw On has a ruminative sound, while Fluid Man bounds along as this glorious tough, funky sci-fi sousing track unfolds. Acid Feerique is a multilayered track where genres and influences are combined by Jacky Giordano and his band. They close side two and Philopsis with the title-track, which sounds not dissimilar to the music that featured on children’s cartoons from the late-seventies. Just like so many tracks on Philopsis, it has a cinematic quality and paints pictures in the mind’s eye.
Philopsis is a incredibly coherent album where Jacky Giordano and his tight, talented and versatile band fuse elements of funk, fusion, jazz, jazz-funk, library music as well as electronica, the soundtracks to early seventies Blaxploitation movies and Herbie Hancock’s classic album Headhunters. They’ve also been influenced by Brian Eno’s early solo albums and the music of Ennio Morricone, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Lalo Schiffrin and Nino-Nardini. When all these genres and influences are combined by Jacky Giordano, the result is Philopsis, which was his finest moment for Freesound.
Nowadays, Philopsis is one of the rarest library records of the seventies and is the perfect introduction to the library music recorded by the enigmatic musical maverick Jacky Giordano who during the seventies could do no wrong. Proof of that is Philopsis which is Jacky Giordano’s library music masterpiece and a genre classic.
Cult Classic: Philopsis.
- Posted in: Electronic ♦ Funk ♦ Jazz ♦ Library Music ♦ Rock ♦ Soul
- Tagged: Challenger, Digger’s Digest, Jacky Giordano, Jacky Giordano Organ, Jacky Giordano Organ Plus, Philopsis, Pop In... Devil's Train, Rythmes Et Mélodies, Schifters, Yan Tregger
I only heard about the phenomenon of library music during 2017. Little did I know that I had been hearing it for years. However, I am not about to start collecting it. There is so much music and not enough time. I enjoyed reading your piece.
I hope you’re well and safe.
I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. I’ve enjoyed and been interested in library music for many years now. When vinyl fell out of fashion I picked up a lot of albums of library music. There were still bargains to be had until recently. Recently, library music has become fashionable and prices of some albums have shot up. It can be expensive to collect library music.
There is so much music to listen to, and each week there’s lots of new releases and reissues. We’re lucky we get to hear all this wonderful music.
Have a nice weekend.