The composer / producer was often nicknamed “the French Joe Meek”
Posted on February 13, 2020
Jean-Pierre Massiera – the cult musician / producer often referred to as “the French Joe Meek” – has passed away. While details surrounding his death are unclear, his passing was confirmed this week by Andy Votel of Finders Guardians, the British label which has reissued many works by Massiera in recent years.
Massiera – who also used the nicknames JPM, Areisam and Sierra, among others – is believed to have died on December 28. He would be 78 years old.
Born July 10, 1941, Massiera was not only known as “the French Joe Meek” but also as “the inventor of French progressive rock”. In addition to working as a musician and composer, Massiera was a record producer, sound engineer, and recording studio owner, unloading an incredibly prolific amount of material between the ’60s and’ 90s.
In addition to the aforementioned nicknames, Massiera has used unique names such as The Maledictus Sound, Horrific Child, and Herman’s Rocket, making her career path almost as confusing as her music itself. Like the legendary Joe Meek, Massiera pushed the boundaries of traditional sound recording, adding elements of concrete music, field recordings and samples into pop structures. The results were unique to say the least, with Massiera leaving behind a very revealing range of work.
While the start of his career at Massiera saw him working with groups such as Shadows and Ventures, he formed the group Les Monégasques in 1964, with the project also starring Pierre Malaussen, Fernand “Nicky” Cafiero and Jean Haumont.
In 1967, Massiera started his own recording studio called the Mediterranean Recording Studio (SEM) in Nice, where he started recording a variety of musicians. Among them is the cult 1968 album of Les Maledictus Sound – a band whose work will be reissued by both Italian publisher Dagored and Canadian band. Mucho Gusto Records. In fact, the Montreal imprint would defend Massiera, repeating a long series of his work in the 2000s.
The Quebec connection also makes sense, given that Massiera moved to the Canadian province in 1968 to set up a studio there. However, his life in Canada was short-lived, as he returned to France the following year.
In the 1970s, Massiera worked at breakneck pace, creating some of his most beloved endeavors. Perhaps most famous, he composed and produced the eponymous Visitors album in 1974 – a record that aimed to produce a “psychedelic nightmare”, but via an alien theme. Various musicians contributed to the album, including singer Gérard Brent, violinist Didier Lockwood (later from Magma) and guitarist Bernard Torelli.
In 1976, Massiera also released his cult classic The Strange Mr. Whinster like Horrific Child, which is now one of his most esteemed works thanks to a 2009 reissue by Finders Keepers. The label of Votel has also collected many works of Massiera on the 2008 comp Midnight Massiera, which offered a stunning snapshot of the artist’s eclectic work.
Massiera would expand even further in the late 70s and 80s, often embracing the “cosmic disco” movement. Included in this period was his record Space woman like Herman’s Rocket, whose title song would become one of his best-known songs.
Other more disco-focused efforts included his Galactic soul album under the name of Venus Gang. In 1978, Massiera also released her self-titled album under the name Human Egg, which further explored the realms of left-field disco and funk.
While Massiera was less prolific in the 1980s, he still continued to produce various productions, including the 12 inch “Inch Allah” like Orient Express. During the decade he also launched the new studio Le Bar-sur-Loup, with Massiera still working in music in the 1990s.
Below you can find Votel’s tribute ticket to Massiera, as well as a sample of the different productions of the French musician.