Codek is the brainchild of Jean-Marie Salaun who grew up in Paris influenced by the folklore of the inner city. In 1978 he joined art rock group SpionS alongside Gregory Davidow and recorded two singles. Diving into the Paris post punk scene he met Claude Arto and designed the artwork for Claude’s single on Celluloid “Kwai Systeme / Betty Boop.” Robin Scott (M “Pop Music”) had produced the SpionS first single and wanted to collaborate further. With Claude, Jean-Marie wrote “Me Me Me”, intended for a choir, for M. Then SpionS split and Robin was off to Switzerland to record an album to follow-up his hit single. That left Jean-Marie alone in London, where he began working as Codek, a play on the brand name Kodak The “Me Me Me” single was released by MCA Records in 1980. Back in Paris, now with some studio experience, Celluloid Records hired Jean-Marie to produce records for Artefact and Les Orphelins. Over the next 2 years he began working on ideas for the next Codek single “Closer / “Tam Tam”
“Closer” started its life as an electric baseline played by Jean-Marie. Claude Arto sequenced the floating synthesizers. Laurent Grangier and Frédéric Lapierre of reggae band Immigration Act played the horns. The lyrics “Hard to say. Easy to do. We don’t need to say what we do” were a statement on creation as narration expressed Jean-Marie’s ennui, “I’m tired with it.” “Tam Tam” was inspired by Burundi drummers playing on the plaza in front of Beaubourg where the song was recorded. Jean-Marie enlisted one of the drummers from the circle, Georges Atta Dikalo, to lay down percussion for the song. The female singers were from the French Caribbean and added falsetto tribal chants. JM was part of the the African night scene in Paris, remixing Xalam’s “Kanu” and Touré Kunda’s “Salaly Muhamed.” Claude achieved complex rhythmic patterns using a modular synthesizer and heavy processing. Jean-Marie recorded himself beating his chest for the thump noises. The recording of “Tam Tam” and “Closer” spanned over two years. They started on 16-track in Studio d’Auteuil, where JM blew the woofers, before resuming in Studio Centre Georges Pompidou with an added 8-track recorder. Jean-Marie was producing other bands, and a lot of this was recorded on “borrowed” studio time. The single was released in 1981 on West African Music, a tiny label from the Ivory Coast, and was re-released a year later by Island Records in the UK (where the B-side was re-named “Tim Toum”). Both tracks were staples in the DJ sets of Beppe Loda and Daniele Baldelli, finding a spiritual home in the Cosmic scene of Italy.
Both songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The jacket is an exact replica of the 1981 edition with artwork by Angela Boy, inspired by primitive electronics and African paintings. Each copy includes an doubles-sided insert with photos and liner notes by Jean-Marie Salaun.