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Jean-Michel Jarre - Planet Jarre (50 Years Of Music) CD (album) cover


Jean-Michel Jarre

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Symphonic Team
5 stars Jean-Michel Jarre has provided us with 50 years of mind blowing electronic musical magic and now we can treat our ears to this outstanding collection on one album. It's actually 2 CDs with an intriguing booklet to pour through as you listen to 41 tracks that will haunt you. I still can't get Equinoxe 4 out of my head. It's a magnificent collection set out inventively into 4 distinct sections.

Soundscapes section opens magnificently with Oxygene 1 unedited in all its 7:39 glory. Then straight into the more recent Oxygene 19 and the greatness of Rendez-vous 1. There are tracks from a majority of the studio releases such as Waiting For Cousteau and it encapsulates the haunting beauty and awe of JMJ.

Section 2 is Themes and of course has the most recognisable tracks such as the indispensable masterpieces Oxygene 2, 4, and Equinoxe 4, 5, Zoolookologie, Magnetic Fields 2 and Rendez-vous 2 (Laser Harp) and 4, closing with Chronology 4. Each track is something to wrap your ears around. They've appeared on heaps of other compilations but they are his masterpieces so they had to be here.

The next CD is where it gets interesting with many tracks never appearing on compilations. It begins with section 3 Sequences with the awesome Coachella Opening. The synth lines of Arpeggiator and Automatic Part 1 are infectious and then it gets hyper techno with Exit that jars (no pun intended) the ear but not in a good way. Then the wonderful Equinoxe 7 and Oxygene 8 transfix with their melodies. It gets ethereal with Stardust Composed by Jarre and Performer Armin van Buuren, a track I had not heard but glad I have. Deep bass synth lines with sequencer driven Herbalizer and hypnotic electro track Revolutions closes this segment.

After this it gets bizarre as we move into the section Explorations & Early Work. A lot of these tracks have been released in some form in rarities compilations but I had not heard a single track before so it held my interest. Some of these tracks should come with a warning not to listen to after dark. It opens with some lovely pieces but very different including Ethnicolor and Souvenir Of China. Next it's repetitive sound waves and vocal samples on Blah Blah Cafe; are they saying vegetables fresh vegetables? It should be a supermarket if so not a cafe. Talking of supermarkets...... here it is finally in decent sound quality, Music For Supermarkets (Demo Excerpt). It's only 2:04 of this rare work but it's great to hear it. The legendary tracks of this were released as a single copy only then Mr Jarre destroyed the masters. It was broadcast once on some obscure radio station and sneaky Jarre fans tape recorded it. So to hear it in decent quality is a treat. But so short! This is followed by the strange and disquieting Roseland = Le Pays De Rose, La Cage and Erosmachine that are musique concrete experimental works which are intriguing for at least a sample of what Jarre was doing in the late 60s to early 70s. I think it might stun a few listeners as this is dark disturbing stuff. Erosmachine sounds like lovers kanoodling in a dark forest ending in a scream of ecstasy, at least I hope it's ecstasy. The high strangeness is at a level that might prove a bit intense but this is where Jarre began. Hypnose, The Song Of The Burnt Barns = La Chanson Des Granges Br'l'es and Happiness Is A Sad Song are equally off the wall and darkly unnerving pieces. I do not think it gets much darker than Happiness is a Sad Song reminding me of the nightmarish works of Scott Walker or Toby Driver. It sounds like the interior of an insane asylum and might be more at home as the soundtrack to Hereditary or Eraserhead. Things thankfully settle down with Last Rendez-Vous that is mesmerising in its beauty and majesty.

So we have here a through opus of samples encapsulating 50 years of Jarres works, all tracks carefully chosen to showcase the genius of one of the quintessential pioneers of the electronic musicsphere. It is a brilliant career and I haven't heard anything like it. This compilation deserves 5 stars as it has everything I adore about Jarre and so much more. It also forces you to crawl through Jarres massive back catalogue for more. It's addictive music that conjures up all sorts of emotions. It can take you up or bring you down. It has the power to transfix you and once you are exposed to it you are hooked for life. After all I was listening to him on vinyl in 1976 and here I am in 2019 and still listening. No matter who you are, Jarre somehow is able to tap into your conscious and his music is impossible to ignore.

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Posted Monday, February 4, 2019 | Review Permalink

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