Philip Perkins ‘Drive Time’

Philip Perkins 'Drive Time' LP coverDrive Time side ADrive Time side BPhilip Perkins 'Drive Time' back cover

01 Rainy Third Street (:42)
02 At Home And Away (3:35)
03 Noise Organ / Xmas Party / Ella (3:32)
04 Mechanical Piano Parade (3:06)
05 On The Park (2:51)
06 At The Machine / Eastchester Parade / The Onion (5:19)
07 Radio Dream (London) (4:02)
08 Street Conversation / Hardanger (2:56)
09 Squeak Opening / Grieg Park (3:02)
10 Shanty (3:25)
11 Bearing / Guitar Hero (4:45)
12 Hotel TV (LA) (1:28)
13 Jig (2:27)
14 Lions (:53)
15 Fire (3:45)

Total time 45:40
LP released by Fun Music, San Francisco, 1985

Philip Perkins was born in 1951 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. During the first half of the 1970s he made numerous experimental films in Eugene, Oregon before relocating to San Francisco in 1977. Starting 1979, he focused on sound engineering and music, yet still making videos for local bands The Residents, Tuxedomoon or MX-80, for instance. Like two other Perkins audio works of the time (The Rosetta Stone and Hall of Flowers), ‘Drive Time’ was conceived as an alternative radio program, an interest Perkins further developed in later radio projects featuring live musicians and electronics, like ‘South Florida Remote’, ‘San Francisco Remote’ (both 1988), and ‘Berkeley Remote’ (1989). For more information on these, read Philip Perkins 1989 interview with H23 magazine No 1, Spring 1989 here. ‘Drive Time’ is a collection of audio vignettes encompassing recordings of various human leisure and outdoor activities (conversations, Christmas party, funfair,  mechanical piano, outdoor orchestral music, muzak, geese, gulls, rain, etc), interweaved with keyboard and guitar music, in addition to what Perkins calls ‘simple musique concrete tricks’. The final mix, an elaborate audio survey of contemporary human activities, shows Perkins’ mastering of studio techniques, clever arrangements and melodic skills. ‘Eastchester Parade’ recalls Tony Schwartz’s own fondness for street parades, while on ‘Mechanical Piano Parade’ the piano conjures up a frolicking Buster Keaton surrounded by joyous geese. Imagine The Residents toying with field recordings for one of their concept albums (minus the buffoonery), except Philip Perkins’ melodies are far more refined and his arrangements more complex. The brilliant sound crafting recalls fellow San Franciscans Rhythm And Noise (Naut Humon, Nik Fault, Rex Probe) and the peerless technique of ‘Chasms Accord’ (1985). But Perkins doesn’t focus on electronic, and keyboards are just an element in a well balanced mix of acoustic instruments, synth loops and location recordings. Quite an achievement, actually.


See also:
Philip Perkins ‘Virgo Ramayana’ >
Philip Perkins ‘Neighborhood With A Sky’ >
FUN music official website


11 Responses to “Philip Perkins ‘Drive Time’”

  1. 1 poseur September 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    fantastic!! thanks friend. Now i’m searching for the first works of this pioneer..

  2. 2 continuo September 24, 2009 at 6:38 am

    So do I. ‘Appartment Life’ seems especially interesting. Maybe we should contact Perkins directly at Fun Music. He probably has a stock of old LPs and k7s.

  3. 3 milton parker September 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I can confirm that he does. He still engineers various recordings around the bay area. Among other various Residential connections he engineered the ‘parade verité’ Sousa side of their album ‘Stars and Hank Forever’.

  4. 4 continuo September 24, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Thanks for the info, Milton.

  5. 5 Sajid January 5, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into your page. Your blog is a goldmine.

  6. 6 continuo January 5, 2010 at 11:45 pm


  7. 8 continuo February 10, 2010 at 7:14 am

    The address is included in the post above, if you’d care read it carefully. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. 9 Philip Perkins February 15, 2010 at 4:35 am

    >So do I. ‘Appartment Life’ seems especially interesting. Maybe we should contact Perkins directly at Fun Music. He probably has a stock of old LPs and k7s.<

    He does.

    Philip Perkins

  9. 10 luckycloud April 25, 2010 at 3:30 am


    hey just came across this gem …and of course u have it well documented! but wow… what a trove this music is!!

    delights and musical flights abound.

    best from s muffins
    p.s. ill be doing some more postings soon!

  10. 11 AG February 13, 2012 at 1:16 am

    sadly, sadly, links are dead, dead

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