Massiera & Torelli On Fire


In 1981 our two favourite French sonic cosmonauts J.P. Massiera & his half-brother Bernard Torelli released two singles on the label Général Music France using  the artist name Usted Del Fuego. Perhaps the more well known of the two releases is Misa Criolla, an adaption of the ‘gloria’ hymn  by Ariel Ramírez. The other single is Cancion Del Fuego and though credited to Massiera and Torelli on the record label, it seems to be an adaption of the twelth movement from the ballet El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla written in 1915

According to the sleeve notes, the track appeared on the soundtrack to the 1982 French film Espion, lève-toi directed by Yves Boisset. The film itself, a political thriller has been described as a cross between the Alan J Pakula 1974 conspiracy-noir The Parallax View and the John Frankenheimer original The Manchurian Candidate. As these are two of my all time favourite films, I have wanted to see Espion, lève-toi for quite a while.

However it is the b-side of the release that I am posting called Usted, an original Massiera/Torelli compostion and in my opinion it is one of the best things the dynamic French duo have ever done. A killer blend of familiar tribal rhythms (first heard I think on the Transport Mission Security track from their 1977 Space Woman album by Herman’s Rocket) and plaintive yearing chants & multi-lingual vocals with the odd Simon & Garfunkel melody thrown into the mix!

As I cannot decide between the two versions of the track, here are both:

Usted Del Fuego – Usted [7 Inch Mix 1981]

Usted Del Fuego – Usted [12 Inch Mix 1981]

Interestingly, the writing credits to the Usted track include a certain Marie Pierre who also seems to have done the backing vocals for the track. I am always interested in the artists and musicians around Massiera & Torelli but the only other related release I can find her on is the 1983 John Luongo mixed album Back To Light by Serge Ponsar where she again gets a writing credit along with Massiera & Torelli for most of the tracks on the album. Aside from some reggae related releases in the late 70s & early 80s, the most recent reference I can find is a credit on the 1988 Robert Plant album Now & Zen singing backing vocals along with the late great Kirsty MacColl &  the wonderful Toni Halliday from UK etheral shoe gaze rockers Curve. If anyone comes across any more information about Marie Pierre, let us know.

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  • Comment | 09/11/2010

    The rhythm track is not unlike that of Johnny Wakelin’s 1976 “In Zaire”

  • Comment | 09/11/2010

    Always had a huge weakspot for those really heavy looping afro rhythm tracks like ‘In Zaire’, John Kongas 1971 ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again’ and of course Burundi Steiphenson Black’s 1971 ‘Burundi Black’ single (and the Rusty Egan ’81 mix)…then of course there are tracks like Echo & The Bunnymen’s ‘Zimbo’.

    Though Malcolm Maclaren got a lot of stick at the time for ‘stealing’ the music of the Burundi via Bow-wow-wow and Adam & The Ants, I was always struck by an interview I heard with the Burundi drummers who said that it wasn’t the beats that were important but the spaces in between the beats and how can anyone ‘steal’ the space in between?…always thought that was such a deep metaphysical truth.

  • Comment | 09/11/2010

    John Cage was expert in space between the notes……..if you love afro tracks you should also check out Jasper Van’t Hof “Pili Pili” and especially “Hoomba Hoomba”:

    I DO love afro, with disco rhythms too

  • Comment | 10/11/2010

    I agree, John Cage always seemed to have a non-western approach to music…I guess his biggest space between notes was 4’33″ ;)

    Yeah, I love the Pili Pili material by Jasper Van’t Hof. ‘Hoomba Hoomba’ is definitely one of my all time favourite records, the combination of those deep tribal beats and the repeating ‘ABBAesque’ piano refrain is just deadly.

    The ‘Voices Of Africa’ version of ‘Hoomba Hoomba’ is pretty incredible as well.

    Maybe some of the contributers could do a top five of this kind of western heavy tribal afro-disco…while the ‘authentic’ 70s/80s afro-disco music has enjoyed a huge resurgence of interest (and quite rightly too!)in contrast western disco/electronic music that explicitly used heavy African beats tends to get ignored as somehow ‘inferior’ or ‘inauthentic’.

    This is really ironic as African musicians were reinterpreting ‘western’ disco music in the same way western disco producers were reinterpreting african rhythms.

    Of course western disco music owes much to non-western sources in the first place but the idea that one kind of music is somehow inherently more ‘authentic’ than an other is deeply flawed imo.

  • Comment | 13/11/2010

    hi saucer people! did you get my last email regarding the missa disco track? I believe most of our mails were tagged as spam on both ends.

  • Comment | 19/11/2010
    the saucer people

    hey okay_awright – I think our email communication problems have been sorted, just sent you a mail about the Missa Disco record etc so fingers crossed you got it!

  • Comment | 30/06/2011
    Mark Crepps

    I am desperate. Please post the “A” side of Massiera & Bernard Torelli’s single, CANCION DEL FUEGO (from Espion-Leve Toi). I have been looking for a mp3 version of this for a long time. This would be greatly appreciated.

  • Comment | 28/01/2014

    “Cancion del fuego” which was part of the Espion Lève Toi soundtrack had nothing to do with the famous classic track. It was a extremely catchy and brilliant disco piece which I’ve been desperately trying to find. So if anyone has ripped the vinyl or owns the 1990s CD of the soundtrack please please let me know. Thanks!

  • Comment | 08/02/2014

    I’ve posted Massiera’s Cancion Del Fuego on both YouTube and ACiDPoP! :
    Definitely worth checking out if you have heard it so far. ;-)

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