S2E13 Musique pour Supermarché

And now for something truly esoteric.

Musique pour Supermarché (English title: Music for Supermarkets) is the sixth studio album by electronic musician and composer Jean-Michel Jarre. Only a single copy was pressed and distributed, and its master plates were deliberately destroyed.

In 1983, Jean-Michel Jarre was asked to compose the background music for the supermarket-themed art exhibition Orrimbe show. Jarre agreed, recording Musique pour Supermarché (English: Music for Supermarkets) between February and May 1983. The exhibition, created by some young artists and friends of Jarre, ran at the Jean-Claude Riedel gallery between 2 and 30 June 1983, and the works of art on display would be auctioned off afterwards. Inspired by this, Jarre decided that the music accompanying the exhibition could be treated as a one-off piece of art as well. Thus Musique pour Supermarché would have only a solitary, unique copy pressed, to be auctioned for charity at Hotel Drouot. After the exhibition had ended, the album’s master plates were destroyed, making this the only existing legitimate copy in the world. It instantly became one of the most expensive and collectible albums in history. In the inside cover, 11 polaroid photos show the step-by-step creation of the disc, leaving one slot so that the final owner could add their photo with the album. The album owner was at first kept anonymous, but later revealed to be a M. Gerard who, after a car accident, had woken up to the radio playing Jarre’s track “Souvenir de Chine” (from Les Concerts en Chine); this album cost him 69,000 francs (10,500 euros or $8960 US).

Shortly after its sale, the album was played in its entirety on Radio Luxembourg for the first and only time. It’s a bootleg recording of that broadcast that we’ll be discussing.

In an age when albums have moved almost entirely into the digital realm, this concept still holds merit. Jarre explains:

“In a time when everything is standardized, over broadcast, 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. Francis Dreyfus, President of my recording company, has accepted the challenge of introducing a single album outside the usual channels, and in this way he shows that a business can be creative, can recognise the artist’s identity and even be humouristic about it. Hurray for supermarkets! Our environment is a supermarket: crossbreeding of merchandise, blending of consumer and cashier, everything is for sale, everything is commonplace, everything fades, everything is altering — our food, our language, our roots. The supermarkets may well be the galleries and the museums of tomorrow. The music for everybody can also be be the music for each of us individually.”  -Jarre, 1983.

For more information on this album, check out this article on Medium.

A few things mentioned in the episode:

This is Marty.

Here is one of the tracks with nonsensical lyrics added:

Finally, here is a link to the KMart tapes.


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