I think it is safe to say, that "Pop Muzik" by M is one of the best pop-artefacts ever. From the diabetes-inducing cover to the gimmicky "double-groove" pressing, the infectious music with its pre-digital editing, the piss-taking video and the brilliant band-name: pure genius!
When it came out in 1979 I was in my second year of learning English and deciphering the wacky lyrics helped me to appreciate it´s sexy precission ("infiltrate it!") and the bold impact of random juxtapositions ("Listen to the countdown! They´re playing our song again").
After the huge, international success of "Pop Muzik" (six million copies were sold) it was follow-up time for Robin Scott. Together with his girlfriend and later wife Brigit Novik they booked themselves into expensive studios in Montreux to recprd their debut album "New York, London, Paris, Munich". Occasional Handclaps were provided by David Bowie, who happened to live around the corner and hung around in the studio (probably recording "Lodger"?)
"Moonlight & Muzak" was chosen as the next single. The title (which I considered as a name for this blog) was of course inspired by the mysterious and obscure Muzak Corporation, which Scott visited while being in North-America. He described it as "a very weird experience. There were all these white collar workers conscientiously putting together music with the precision of chemists. Way before Eno was doing it, these guys were doing it for real. They were pre-occupied with the pace of workers in factories, and how to maximise their efficiency".
Listen: Moonlight & Muzak
"Moonlight & Muzak" is a very serene and souave composition, which is counterbalanced by an antiseptic, rhumba-esque beat that is totally drained of all emotions that are typically associated with latin music. It´s muzak! A Theremin melody and other exotic-sounds are drawn from mood-music of the past, while Scott speak-sings a story about being a secret agent who is brainwashed by all the muzak that is constantly playing around him in this "international motel fantasy".
Of course there is also a sax-solo by Gary Barnacle, which almost sounds synthetic in its planned blandness.
"Moonlight & Muzak" is as intelligent as "Pop Muzik". Maybe it was too clever for its own good. It was a Top-40 hit in the UK, but fell pretty flat elsewhere. After all, who knew anything about Muzak?
The rest of the M album is a pretty mixed affair. There is the overblown rock-musical "Moderne Man/Satisfy your lust" and some filler material. Highlights are the wonderfully seductive "Woman make Man" and the title track with its military breaks and the endlessly repeated lines of "Marching to the music. Music made in Munich".
M would record two more albums to much lesser success (and limited release). Robin Scott would also produce "The left handed dream" a collaboration album with Ryuichi Sakamoto. Today Scott works as a musician and graphic artist.
"Swimming in Shrinkwrap" by Robin Scott
Just recently The Gentle People have used "Moonlight & Muzak" as the basis for a new song "What do you know". Check it out on their Myspace site.