Thursday, July 19, 2012


You've heard the theremin.

Now hear a martenot. It was invented in 1928 by, yeah, a guy named Martenot. Maurice Martenot, to be exact. The versatile instrument had a keyboard; you didn't just wave your hands in front of it. But in this era of easy digital sampling, a cheap laptop keyboard can sound like a theremin, martenot or a Dutchman making animal noises. There are few professional musicians out there making a living as martenot players. Janie De Waleyne wasn't even one of 'em.

Janie De Waleyne's A-side single, "Faces in the Dark," was written by Mikis Theodorakis, and if that Greek name is familiar to you, it's because of his soundtrack work on "Phaedra" "Serpico" and "Z." Yes, there actually was a movie called "Faces in the Dark," starring John Gregson, Mai Zetterling and John Ireland, and this is the theme from it.

Three odd things about this woman and the theme song. First, of course, is that she uses the martenot, and in a way as dramatic as the theremin use in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," or the rusty-sounding autoharp Henry Mancini employed for the "Experiment in Terror" theme. Or how about Khachaturian suddenly injecting the wobbly and wacky flexatone into the otherwise straight andante movement of his piano concerto?

Second: when this Top Rank single was re-issued on the Oriole label, some double-visioned goof spelled her name "De Wayleyne." Which didn't help her get bookings. If she was trying to make a career as a martenot player.

Third: Janie's vinyl catalog mostly involves singing. She's featured on some fairly annoying tracks from Baden Powell such as "Blues a Volonte" (she sounds like Carmen Miranda trying to be Astrud Gilberto) and the more leisurely "Violão vagabundo" (sounds like Doris Day recovering from a concussion caused by a falling coconut).

Sans vocals...get set for a few cool and eerie minutes in the dark as you face your speakers and the martenot of Janie De Waleyne. Listen on line or download JANIE and her FACES IN THE DARK

1 comment:

Calamar said...

Hi, just to give you some insight on Janine de Waleyne: she played the Martenot more than you think. Listen to the album "Les Fleurs du mal" (1957) or the song "Le Vin de l'assassin" by Léo Ferré, or "Musique tachiste" (1959) by Michel Magne.

The way she sings also on later Ferré's albums such as "Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire" (1967), "La Chanson du mal-aimé" (1972) or "L'Espoir" (1974), is not crapy at all in my opinion, but really beautiful (thanks Ferré melodic genius).

You can find some videos on her if you explore the french side of the web...

My two cents. :-)