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Jean-Michel Jarre - Essential Recollection CD (album) cover


Jean-Michel Jarre


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3.40 | 6 ratings

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'My review # 200 is dedicated to the genius of electronic musician JM Jarre'.

At about 50 years ago, in 1977, I was one of the many millions who was mesmerized by the videoclip from a certain Jean-Michel Jarre, with his single Oxygene 4: first clouds of cold ice and the sound of blowing wind, then a young, well dressed musician appears under a curtain, surrounded by keyboards and playing on a modular synthesizer, a magical moment! It was a huge hit in Holland and gradually JM Jarre also conquered the rest of the world, with his accessible blend of pop and electronic music. Fuelled by his fame and fortune he organized open-air concerts on a very large scale in Paris, London, Houston and Moscow, most were attended by over a million (in Moscow even 3,5 million), with a happy and enthusiastic JM Jarre as the focal point, performing his pioneering music, and embellished with jawdropping visuals. This has a history.

As a very young boy he grew up in a wealthy environment, got piano lessons, was interested in many forms of art and, a skilled painter. But emotionally the young Jean-Michel suffered, after his father (famous composer and conductor Maurice Jarre) and his mother Francette (French resistance in WW2 and a concentration camp survivor) decided to divorce when he was only five years old. During the years music, art and experimenting with devices became very important for Jean-Michel, it helped him to battle his deep sad feelings about missing his father. So first there is the very young Jean-Michel Jarre, sitting alone in in his boyroom, missing his father. But as an adult and succesful musician he is the centre of massive open-air concerts, attended by millions who embrace him. You can analyse this as the ultimate sublimation of loneliness.

Back to his music, JM Jarre was a pioneer in scouting the border between electronic - and pop music, inspired by the Moog synthesizer driven composition Popcorn. On this comprehensive CD compilation most of the tracks contain the 'JM Jarre trademark' : cheerful synthesizer runs with catchy beats, blended with lush synthesizer strings and typical electronic music 'beeps and bleeps' and subtle spacy - and fat bass sounds. Like in Oxygene Part 4 (propulsive sequencer), Equinoxe Part 4 (distorted sounds and use of the Theremin in the end), Magnetic Fields Part 2, Equinoxe Part 5, Chronology Part 4 and Rendez-Vous 4.

JM Jarre also delivers pleasant variety.

Spectacular use of the arpeggiator (basic sequence of notes) in Arpegiateur (evoking early Vangelis and Synergy).

Dreamy atmospheres in Souvenir Of China (melancholical strings and Chinese voices) and Oxygene Part 6 (beautiful layers of strings).

A techno sound in the swinging Bells, featuring the sound of bells and distorted voices. And the composition Last Rendez-Vouz (Ron's Piece), a wonderful tribute to astronaut Ron McNair, victim of the horrible Challenger disaster. Ron was also a skilled saxophone player and had worked with JM Jarre on a piece of music for Jarre's then-upcoming album Rendez-Vous. It was intended that he would record his saxophone solo on board of the Challenger. The saxophone solo in Ron's Piece is played by Frenchman Pierre Gossez. His very emotional solo starts sensitive and ends with screamy outbursts, expressing the destruction and agony, very moving.

My conclusion. This CD compilation is entitled Essential Recollection but this should have been extended to Essential Recollection Part One : 1976 - 2000. Because it spans the time between the 1976 album Oxygene and the 2000 album Metamorphoses, it's not a total overview of his work. To me the tracklist looks comprehensive, although I miss the funny single The Last Rumba and the special single London Kid (featuring guitar legend Hank B. Marvin). The emphasis is on the more catchy, pop-oriented electronic music, I miss Oxygene Part 5 (from his magical Oxygene album) and the track Magnetic Fields Part 1 (my favourite JM Jarre composition) is an abridged version, from 17.49 to 6.33. A good compilation but I am sure that within a few years Sony Music will release a compilation entitled Jean-Michel Jarre - Essential Recollection Part Two : 2000 - 2020.

My rating: 3,5 star.

Finally a personal note. A few years after watching the Ogygene 4 videoclip in 1977 I bought my first synthesizer, a Roland Juno 106, inspired by JM Jarre his videoclip. I still love his first albums but lost my dedication for JM Jarre since Zoolook. In 2016 I attended for the first time a JM Jarre gig, I was blown away by not only the jawdropping visuals but also by the Electronica 1 and 2 tracks. Especially the sensational, modern sounding Exit (tribute to his hero Edward Snowden), one of the best electronic music compositions I have ever heard, what a genius!

TenYearsAfter | 3/5 |


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