Cards on the table, I bought Oxygene when it came out and I think my brother bought Equinoxe. Since then I have seen Jean Michel Jarre on tv for about 5 minutes but never revisited those early albums
Planet Jarre is a doorstop retrospective that flits across his body of work and frankly demonstrates both how impressive it is but equally draws attention to the relative lack of new ideas on display.
Split into 4 themed discs (Soundscapes, Sequences, Themes, Explorations and early works) which I have subsequently re-christened (Meh!, mmmm, better! And mmmm2 in the spirit of JMJ’s lack of inspiration when it comes to track titles – oxygene 20 anyone?
Yes he was a pioneer (and yes, in my view his dad was one of the great film soundtrack composers – an epithet deserved for the year of living dangerously alone)
I got this to review (many thanks Mr B Pole) and played it all the way through while I was doing something else.
Then I sat down in more relaxed surroundings (comfortable chair, glass of Talisker, headphones) and listened again.
If you are doing something else this is unremarkable. If you sit and listen? Its unremarkable, what was all the fuss about when he came out? Was it the laser shows? The use at the “Laserium” – there’s one for the kids – you sat down and watched lasers whilst electronic music “from the future“ was played quite loud, it was awesome…
Many tracks here I was unfamiliar with – the Heart of Noise is a decent enough pun but actually made me think how much more I like Moments in Love than anything here.
Some of the cod classical stuff (Industrial Revolution pt 2) is very Wendy Carlos but again aside from the technical mastery (mastery of the tech) doesn’t inspire or invoke any emotion, is it stirring – kind of but not really.
Oxygene 4 and Oxygene 2 come along and are catchy and interesting and just short enough for the repetitiveness not to outstay its welcome Equinoxe pt 5 ditto but these were constant TV fodder for those of us of a certain age – pretty much all of us on here I suspect.
Bells does what it says on the tin. An occasional flicker of Fatboy Slim’s pop sensibility but again mainly on t earlier material.
Magnetic fields 2 is almost weapon of choice by Fatboy Slim so that makes him a pioneer of sorts I suppose.
If you like Mike Oldfield, or Rick Wakeman, yes its decent, but you’ve got them and there is nothing much to add here
The stand out tracks are all 70’s and early 80’s. he was certainly done by then and despite being a contemporary of Kraftwerk and “pop Can” – “I want more” era.
Fundamentally the Germans are funnier and more intelligently deploy the tools.
Its lazy, in another world he’d have had a vocalist, some awful lyrics and made a mint being Clean Bandit or Tiesto before they were themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, debts are owed (Hartnoll brothers, Mr Chemical and Mr other Chemical I’m looking at you).
Blah Blah Café is art of noise, who were probably inspired by him so that’s fine.
Music for supermarkets – only one copy made, frankly not worth it…
The experimental stuff (explorations) is actually sonically interesting but seems out of place with the blandness and pop sensibility displayed before in equal measure like he is trying to be edgy but too knowing and too controlled.
Cruelly the download I was sent has a song called Brick England from the last few years and the wonder that is Neil Tennant and his associate appear and make everything OK. Sadly its not on the box set version as far as I can see online.
The pupils have become the master and they have moved on to better things. Thank you Mr Jarre and for your earlier successful work alone respect and credit are due but really this is anodyne electronica, if I didn’t know better the Heart of Noise pun sounds like a Neil Tennant line as well.
Q: When is a doorstop box set a bit Meh?
A: When it’s a Jarre