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Jean-Michel Jarre - Équinoxe Infinity CD (album) cover

ÉQUINOXE INFINITY

Jean-Michel Jarre

 

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3.95 | 21 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Legendary French electronic icon Jean-Michel Jarre returns with a `sequel' to one of his most highly regarded works in 1978's `Equinoxe', and even if it's rarely ever too challenging or ground-breaking, and doesn't actually remind of the original much at all, 2018's `Equinoxe Infinity' still has plenty to offer. Jarre brings his army of digital and analogue keyboards to deliver a punchy and endlessly melodic set of bubbly electronica, sleek synth-pop, spacier dramatic themes, New-Age/ambient touches and one or two dancier spots, and like many of Jarre's past works, the pieces (all subtitled with `Movement') seamlessly segue into each-other forming an ever-evolving aural collage...or kind of like a cool spacey mix-tape!

The first half/side A is particularly strong, and `The Watchers' is a suitably announcing opener with fizzy electronics and the first use of a stirring main synth melody that will pop up elsewhere in the disc, sounding reliably like the Jarre albums of the Seventies. The twinkling electronica of `Flying Totems' teems with life with a victorious and dramatic theme, and the moody `Robots Don't Cry', one of the strongest moments of the disc, is a slinking head-nodding electronic brood with seductively clipping programming bringing a buoyant energy, and scratchy Mellotron and ringing electric piano motifs rise up out of its lush ambient caresses. `All That You Leave Behind' is an uneasy ambient interlude with tolling bells that lurches into a spacey heavy grind, but the brief `If The Wind Could Speak' wraps the first half with glitching synth-pop and slightly kitsch female voice samples flitting in and out.

However, the flip-side's `Infinity' is going to be the breaking point for some listeners! The catchy dance piece, all inane wordless vocal samples and clichéd repeating synth theme is probably the closest the artist has come to delivering something as obnoxiously cheesy and lightweight as a `Summer Dance Anthem', but while the track is not really surprising considering Jarre's diversity and desire to keep one foot in the door of commercial relevance and modern dance music culture, it's still a little grating (although some will probably appreciate its uplifting positivity). Thankfully the disc fully recovers with `Machines Are Learning', a mix of darting sequencer programming and whirring cut-up robotic voices, the superb `The Opening' has a confident and defiant recurring dramatic theme over pulsing beats (lovely ambient outro as well) and `Don't Look Back' elegantly weaves cello-like samples over glistening electronic trickles. The unhurried seven minute closing title-track `Equinoxe Infinity' is unexpectedly subtle and subdued, reprising earlier musical themes and revealing slowly unfolding ambient passages of Tangerine Dream-modelled deep-space atmospheres and fusing them with a Vangelis-flavoured cinematic soundtrack-like sophistication.

While there's often not a lot of depth to it, and Jean-Michel clearly slapped a fancy arty Hipgnosis/Storm Thorgerson-like cover on it and used the 'brand name' title to attract more fans even when there's not much to suggest this has any proper connection to the earlier album at all, `Equinoxe Infinity' is a classy work with a slick polished production from a legendary electronic artist that's easy to enjoy, with several moments that lift to real greatness, and plenty of Jarre fans should get exactly what they want with it!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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