“In a time when everything is standardized, overbroadcast, a time when we are endlessly overinformed, saturated with sounds and images, it seemed to me worthwhile to demonstrate that a record is not only a piece of merchandise without value, infinitely multipliable, but it can be, like a painter’s picture or a sculptor’s bronze, an integral part of a musician’s creation.”
Jean-Michel Jarre, July 1983
Vieon return in 2019 with a time-travelling look back at one of the most unusual and rare albums ever to be released. At 8pm on 6th July 1983 at Hotel Drouot in Paris, French electronic pop artist Jean-Michel Jarre auctioned off an LP of his latest creation, Music For Supermarkets (parts 1 to 8), and then promptly took a blowtorch to the master plates, ensuring no other original copy could exist. The price when the hammer fell? 69,000 francs (22,000 euros in today’s money).
One bootleg copy of the album exists in very poor quality, recorded from Jarre’s one-off broadcast on Radio Luxembourg AM; the current owner of the record is unknown, despite many efforts to trace them. Some parts of the record were reused on Jarre’s later albums Zoolook and Rendez-Vous, but one notable exception is the proto-vaporwave overture of Part 1.
Equal parts avant-garde musique concrète, electro-funk and synthpop, Music For Supermarkets (part 1) is a stomping, ironic protest against the inevitable commercialisation of music that Jarre saw coming at the start of the digital era. Now in 2019, that journey is complete, with streaming services and smartphones putting virtually infinite amounts of music available on-demand, anywhere in the world.
Vieon producer and frontman Matt Wild had this to say about his choice of track:
“JMJ has always been my first and foremost influence, not just in style of music but also in my thinking as an artist. Music For Supermarkets always fascinated me as not only the most elusive of his releases, but as an artistic statement, to say that music was capable of being a one-off piece of art, like a painting or a sculpture, even in the face of the unstoppable wave of technology-driven commercialisation.
“For me this has particular resonance today as the digital revolution has both reduced the bar to entry for new producers, with the home recording studio now available on almost any budget, but at the same time it has fundamentally reduced the commercial value of music to almost zero, with the vast majority of new music streamed and physical formats dying off almost completely for everyday listening. Popular music, with some notable exceptions, is now just as disposable, routine and mundane as buying groceries.
“I’m not a fan of regular covers particularly, but this track is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, to almost bring back from the dead what I considered to be one of the strongest parts of Music For Supermarkets as an album and yet the part which has never been subsequently reused. In some ways, being able to recreate this particular piece in my home studio and then distribute it across the world is very appropriate!”
Music For Supermarkets also includes a hedonistic dance remix of the title track by pop music legend (and Eurovision songwriter) Ricardo Autobahn, as well as Room 1985’s mind-bending prog rock remix of Vieon original Fly By Light and two live tracks recorded from Vieon’s spectacular 2019 tour.