music-o-mat

Linda Perhacs

File under lost artists from the early ’70s. Parallelograms, the 1970 debut release by Singer-songwriter Linda Perhacs, is an album steeped in the tradition of CSNY and Joni Mitchell but with a singularly unique approach to vocal layering. It remained a sort of Harper Lee one-off until, like the famed author, she returned for a sequel some four decades later. But first the back story of this geometric-titled masterpiece.

In the late 1960s, Perhacs (née Arnold) worked as a dental hygienist at an office on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. One of her regular patients was film composer and music producer Leonard Rosenman, notable for his work on Rebel Without a Cause and Barry Lyndon. As they got to know each other, he asked what else she did besides cleaning teeth. She mentioned songwriting, which piqued his interest. After hearing her demo, Rosenman got her signed to Kapp Records.

Parallelograms unfortunately didn’t make the splash the label had hoped for. Perhaps the market had been saturated by that point but I suspect the music, like that of her contemporary Nick Drake, was too far ahead of its time. When Kapp dropped her, Perhacs simply returned to the world of teeth where she remained for the rest of her career. It wouldn’t be until the early 21st century that the album would start getting the notice it deserved. Today it’s considered a cult classic, though there’s nothing cultish about it. It’s just good music. Funny how that happens.

Here’s the title track of that seminal release.

Chimacum Rain

Perhacs is still around, by the way, and still making music. Her sophomore release The Soul of All Natural Things finally arrived in 2014, 44 years after Parallelograms. Another release I Am Harmony followed in 2017. In short, the dental equipment has been retired and her career revived.

Read a review of Parallelograms on Pitch Fork and an interview about all this on NPR

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