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Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene CD (album) cover

OXYGENE

Jean-Michel Jarre

 

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3.86 | 228 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Oxygene' - Jean-Michel Jarre (6/10)

Along with The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers..." and Genesis' "Invisible Touch", one of the earliest albums I can remember being exposed to was Jean-Michel Jarre's "Oxygene II". Described to me as 'space music', I find that label resonating even more with his music than I did years and years ago. Naturally, hearing the first part of this musical journey was an essential quest for me; it would give my earliest experience with electronic music some much-needed context. "Oxygene" is widely considered to be a classic of its style, a blend of synth melodies and rhythmic sequencers innovated and popularized by Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream not long before Jarre jumped on the wagon. While I found "Oxygene II" to be a well-composed, exciting adventure, something about its older brother has left an emptiness in me. Some of Jarre's musical ideas here are indeed excellent, but there is not enough consistency here to make it feel like the masterpiece it's claimed to be.

Jean-Michel Jarre's approach to electronic music feels like a streamlined Klaus Schulze. Normally, making things more concise in progressive music is a definite no-no, but it works here. Schulze's explorations of space generally involve a chunky investment of time before getting to the 'payoff', whereas Jarre attempts to achieve that atmosphere in less time. In some of his work, he certainly accomplishes that, and even on this album's opening suite (comprising the first two tracks), his talent for composition is clear. The music is almost permanently chilled, often mysterious and brooding.

"Oxygene" experiences a few moments of pure awe, usually when the compositions undergo some sort of sonic shift and climax. Even if its simply a texture that isn't heard anywhere else on the album, Jarre is a master of creating moments of brilliance. This is unfortunately not something that spans throughout the entire album. In fact, much of the album feels like blank space between payoffs. Although the sequencers are textured well, there is little variety to the core sound of "Oxygene". Although it would have been state-of-the- art for its time, the compositions of "Oxygene" often feel as if they're unsure whether to pursue atmosphere or melody. "Oxygene II" was an incredible way for me to be introduced to electronic music, but I do not feel the same connection towards the first.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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