Jean-Jacques Perrey and Dana Countryman - "Destination Space" (Destination Space)
One of the paramount questions raised by Jean-Jacques Perrey’s latest album, with Dana Countryman, is how does one continue to develop? What are the pitfalls to avoid in a lifelong career, and what are tactics one can engage in that encourage and foster creativity over the decades. The fact of the matter is that to make art, or rather to make vitally important art – to have vision, and furthermore, to have an educable vision that can adapt as one’s career progresses – is a rather fragile attribute that can be shattered by any number of contingent factors that arise in the real world.
This makes me think of someone like Bob Odenkirk, and the compromises he’s had to make in order to create art in the extensive corporate shithole that is Hollywood. Compromises for family, compromises for the sake of building good will, compromises to gain cachet one can use as leverage for personal projects in the future. How often does this work though? How can art ever win out in the long run when capital is on the line? And what of less palpably popular artistic strategies? Philip Glass, in a New Yorker article about Nico Muhly had this to say, “The great anxiety among young composers is, when are you going to hear your own voice? But the real problem is, how do you get rid of it, how do you develop?…There is a lot of rapid growth in one’s twenties, but the big challenge is to keep that alive over the long stretch, for the next forty years, and not let it get stifled by the meanness of the world we live in.”
In these regards, Destination Space is relatively atavistic, sounding incredibly similar to the great mooging of the ’60s. This most assuredly is not a good thing, as the novelty of the moog – which birthed any number of goofy projects from rather creative ones like Mort Garson’s Plantasia to gimmicks like Wendy Carlos’ Switched-On Bach – has worn off. As Space is mostly made up of ’70s bachelor pad moog, one wonders both who the audience is supposed to be and about Perrey’s own development as an artist, which is either frozen or just merely regressive. Neither option is desirable.