Psyché Rock


Messe Pour Le Temps Present (1967).

Electro-acoustic composer Pierre Henry probably wouldn’t thank you for calling Psyché Rock his finest moment but it’s a favourite of mine. It’s also his most well-known composition although most people know it as a putative inspiration for Christopher Tyng’s theme to Futurama. The YouTube version here is the original mix. Many other uploads are later remixes which disgracefully downplay the wonderful out-of-time synth shrieks.


Too Fortiche / Psyché Rock / Teen Tonic / Jericho Jerk (1967). Credited to “Les Yper-Sound”.

Psyché Rock was the second track on Messe Pour Le Temps Present, an album of music composed in part with Michel Colombier. (It was also released on an EP with three other Henry/Colombier tracks, and later as a single in its own right.) The Messe section of the album was the score for a Maurice Béjart dance piece, a small example of which can be seen here. There’s also this silly dance sequence from French TV featuring stripping meter maids.


Moog Indigo (1970).

Another French composer, Jean-Jacques Perrey,  looked from inner to outer space in 1970 with E.V.A., a track on his Moog Indigo album. This sounds very similar to Psyché Rock, albeit less wild and much more groovy, and may also be an inspiration for the Futurama theme. This train of associations has given E.V.A. a life beyond its album release.


As to Futurama, there’s a mass of clips and themes of differing lengths out there. I’ll mention Fatboy Slim’s remixes only to say that I’ve never been very enamoured of Quentin’s compositions so the less said about him (and them), the better. Les Jerks Électroniques De La Messe Pour Le Temps Présent Et Musiques Concrètes De Pierre Henry Pour Maurice Béjart was available on CD as recently as 2009 in a package which shows some of the equipment used to produce its sounds.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The music of Igor Wakhévitch

4 thoughts on “Psyché Rock”

  1. I heard both these tracks in the early 90s thanks to the DJ-later-known-as-Cherrystones, who was a resident DJ at a club in Cardiff at the time – and whose sets were noticably way ahead of most of the other rare groove DJs. As in, he played ‘grooves’ that were rare, rather than just jazz.

    Even then it was slightly familiar, as had been sampled quite a lot (Gang Starr most famously).

    And because of that, unaffordable since about 1992!

    Still a great track – always a guaranteed floor-filler, much like Dave Pike’s ‘Mathar’.

    I’ve got a couple of copies of Psyche-Rock – one in the sleeve above, and another with an ‘Op’ sleeve (possibly a German release – would have to go find it to check).

    The third track I’d put with these two is a lot more of a song (a cousin to 2000 Light Years From Home) – but that production and rhythm are again things that made a lot more sense 25 years later than they did at the time.

  2. That Hooterville track is great. Odd to find it’s on the vinyl edition of Beyond The Calico Wall (a compilation of obscure psych weirdness), which I don’t have, yet it’s not on the CD edition, which I do.

    The German Psyché Rock does indeed have an Op-Art sleeve. I nearly posted it here.

  3. This track also appears, quite spectacularly, in Costa-Gavras’s “Z” — a movie whose soundtrack is mostly low-key, pared back, slightly foreboding bouzouki music — when one of the thugs realizes he’s just got off from the potential charges, and heads out to get off in another sense. It’s one of my favorite soundtrack moments in any movie, coming out of nowhere and suggesting with great vividness that part of what drives these right-wing assassins is that violence is a blast.

Comments are closed.

Discover more from { feuilleton }

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading