thu 26/04/2018

CD: Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3 | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3

CD: Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3

40 years on, the French synth maestro's greatest hit blooms into a trilogy

The same, but different

Jean-Michel Jarre sometimes doesn’t receive the credit due to him from electronic music buffs. Whereas Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis are held up as ground-breaking innovators of the 1970s, Jarre’s breakthrough 1976 hit "Oxygene IV" is not attributed the same kudos. Perhaps this is because it’s so ridiculously, almost irritatingly catchy. More likely it’s because it propelled its parent album, Oxygene, to multi-million-selling success, making an opulent global star of its creator.

Those who reject Jarre are doing him a disservice. It’s true that from the Eighties onwards his music lost some of its charm, not helped by his gigantic self-aggrandising mega-shows, but Oxygene and its successor, Equinoxe, contain music that’s as much of a template for certain forms of club-affiliated music - notably trance and chill-out - as anything out there. Now, following a couple of feisty, enjoyable albums where he collaborated with a who’s who of electronica, Jarre feels inspired to revisit his initial success with a third volume of Oxygene (a second appeared in 1996).

He retains the stripped-back, wafting instrumental prog-pop vibe of the album’s predecessors, although the main indication it’s an Oxygene album is the endless stoner-friendly wind noise whooshing smeared liberally over everything. There’s nothing as catchy as “Oxygene IV” here. How could there be? But “Oxygene 19” has a crafted, well-sequenced energy, opener “Oxygene 14” contains a twinkling synth motif at its core, and “Oxygene 17” is blissed-out, warm, floaty electro - almost house - that’s well worth a visit. The rest bubbles, pulses and squelches in an enjoyably retro way. Among other formats, Oxygene 3 is being released in triplicate with its predecessors, along with a coffee table book, and it’s easy to imagine that package bought on vinyl by those who might once have liked to have been hippies, decades ago, but got decent jobs instead. They’ll settle down after a decent weekend meal, take out their neatly boxed and hidden hash stash, roll a bifter, whack Oxygene 3 on a turntable recently rescued from the attic, and float off, just as they did 40 years ago. And why not...

Overleaf: listen to Oxygene 3 preview

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