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Jean-Michel Jarre - Les Chants Magnétiques [Aka: Magnetic Fields] CD (album) cover


Jean-Michel Jarre

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erik neuteboom
3 stars Surrounded by hundreds of thousands spectators, supported by pyrotechnics and light- projections and amidst a wide range of keyboards, including an odd 'half-moon-shaped' synthesizer, sound-architect Jean-Michel JARRE turned out to be the conductor of his megalomaniac thoughts if you watches his videos. These scenes contrast heavingly with the emotional world of the young Jean-Michel. Once he was a lonesome and melancholic boy who most of the time longed for his father in the house of his grandparents. Dad was a famous composer of movie-soundtracks and because of that job hardly at home. In order to entertain himself, Jean-Michel started to record the radio-frequences of an old radio he was playing with. Music became very important to show his emotions and to numb his sadness about the missing of a fatherfigure. If you listen to the music on his early recordings you can imagine his wide range of childhood emotions, alternating from lost and lonely to happy and cheerful. My favorite album is "Les chants magnétiques", in my opinion his most mature record. Especially the first part of the titletrack is splendid, what a wonderful and exciting mix of strings, synthesizers, sequencers and percussion! Halfway the music features a lush synthesizers string sound and organ, followed by a spectacular changing climate delivering sensational sequencers and catchy synthesizer runs, electronic music meets pop on the border of the Prog Archives region. But it was Jean-Michel JARRE who got the electronic instruments appreciated as real instruments, credit to him for that!
Report this review (#35087)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars For my money this is JMJ's crowning glory.While Oxygene and Equinox were 'nice' albums this,his third album, seems to have a lot more momentum and broader ideas.The first part is surely his prog masterwork.The music builds excitingly before giving way to a clever symphonic middle section before returning to the job at hand.Great stuff.Electronic prog at its best.The second part keeps the pace going well,positively brimming with vitality.Part Three begins with the sound of an underground train (used to scare my cat whenever I played this album LOL) and then you get some water like sounds.Very strange abstract peice.Part Four is a more typical JMJ with an extremely effective theme.Part Five is a frivious almost throwaway peice that finishes the album quite nicely.Overall I like this album for its warmth,scope and variety of ideas.
Report this review (#35088)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A change in the sound for Jarre, this album is tighter, less floating and more focused on sampling and rhythm. This was one of the first albums to ever feature sampling from human voices and various other "every day" things in the music, something that Jarre would experiment MUCH further on the "Zoolook" album released after this one. The variation here is very notable, ranging from rhythmic and frantic parts to ambient, with a weird rumba piece to close the album. Though it's less rich on melody than on "Oxygene" and "Equinoxe", this one is more interesting to listen to overall and stands out as a personal favourite of mine in Jarre's discography.

The best tracks are the brilliant opening suite at nearly 18-minutes, one of Jarre's absolute best tracks, and "Part 4" which are one of his most underrated tracks if you ask me. The low point is the rumba piece "Part 5" which doesn't really fit to the albums style or mood at all, as well as being very weak overall. I'll give this one 4.5/5 in overall.

Report this review (#35089)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While Jarre continued making records, his musical vision became tighter, not innovating within itself, but recreating itself with an increasingly bigger drive. This time, the first half of the album is entirely concentrated on Part I, which is one of the most amazing Jarre's compositions ever! It is constructed as a sequence of two main successive motifs, with a dreamy interlude providing some sort of cosmic spirit. The first main motif is based on a dynamic series of synthesized chord progressions, with lots soaring layers and additional harmonies that go on displaying all over in a solid and elegant crescendo; the second one has a more orchestral feel, in this way bearing a prog-like architecture (as near to progressive as electronic pop can be). The most notable features of this second main motif are the clever use of countermelodies and the introduction of some moderately improvised synth leads - Jarre is decidedly expanding his musical line of work toward its most ambitious level so far. The second half is focused on the use of separated concise ideas. Part II is a catchy techno-pop number built on a twist-like rhythm pattern; this was the album's first single. Part III is a basically a soundscape of various sundry electronic effects: machineries, tuned percussion, radar clicks, beats. all these sounds are emulated by synths that serve as colours for a portrait of a factory. Part IV is the most beautiful number in the album: its evocative melodic lines and relaxing layers remind me of 'Equinox' Parts IV & VII, but with a more serene atmosphere. At times, Jarre incorporates some Latin jazz nuances: once again, the sound of heavy machinery re-emerges at the end of this track. Part V is, plain and simple, a rumba: Jarre goes deeper into the Latin thing and offers a rendition of this prototype of Latin American Creole sensuality. My guess is that the keyboardist intended to bring a touch of human candour after all the modernist paraphernalia that had taken place so far: anyway, this is mostly a funny way to create a frontal contrast against the entire preceding repertoire, and as such it should be enjoyed by those who intend to. Before I finish this review, let me state a personal note: back in my teenage days, when I was starting my collection, Jarre was very popular in Spain, and of course, among my school friends, and I myself participated of the general good vibe that this talented French received in the country - "Magnetic Fields" was my first Jarre experience, and learning to love his music was an important part of my early prog-head education. Years have come and gone, and I still feel this album is excellent, ambitious enough as to deserve a place in any good prog collection.
Report this review (#35090)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars JM J's third album is also the last one I would recommend to progheads before JM J would become a bit megalomaniac later on , in the 80's. But I would rate this album , not as high as his prewvios two for the exact reasons a few of my colleagues reviewers rate it higher than the previous two: Tighter but less adventurous. I suppose it is all a matter of taste but the 80's are not a period I relish in prog or any other style of music because the technology was making most musicians lazy! Synths were easily available at the time and although still bettering (mostly in the reliability and other technichal areas) , they were really killing creativity.

Don't get me wrong , this is still a good JM J album but definitely not as adventuresome as both Oxygene and Equinoxe, and to me samplers were always cause for waryness.

Report this review (#37829)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is more melodic, rhythmic and less linear than the previous ones. You have sequenced beat mostly all through the album, and the floating keyboards in the background are less pronounced. I would say that it is more accessible and probably he reached some new fans because of this album. It sounds quite European, being slightly comparable to "Tangerine Dream" of the early 80's. But he still has his unique style that made him a major artist in the New Age world. I still wonder why the presence of the last track, which mostly corresponds to a dullish danceable track for elder people in a social club.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Report this review (#40979)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars A step too far. If JARRE had stopped with his previous album, and moved on directly to the experimental music he favoured in 'Zoolook', his career might have held more interest.

This album, however, exists in a half-way house between the simple melodic instrumentalism of 'Oxygene' and 'Equinoxe', and the sonic vandalism of 'Zoolook.' It suffers in comparison with all three. Adventurous, yes, but not adventurous enough; pretty, yes, but not beautiful. He had to go one way or the other. The first track is excellent, if over-long for the depth of ideas; the rest unmemorable.

Report this review (#117082)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all, I consider JMJ music to be pure electronic, ocasional progressive electronic. And now, to the point. Les Chants magnetiques represents for me one of these albums which cannot be described in words; I can only let the music play and say everything without words. The music from this album (together with other JMJ classic albums, like Oxygene and Equinoxe) captivated me from a young boy and even now LCM flows in my veins like a truly river of sounds. LCM 1 represents, perhaps, the most progressive JMJ song ever. LCM 2 and LCM 4 are masterpieces in electronic music: a musical therapy at any time and any hour of the day. The special track no 5., is another high peak in JMJ music. The main theme, together with the theme from LCM 2 is without any doubt memorable and sublime. In the end of my short review to this album, I'd like to recommend it to the youngest generation of good music listeners worldwide and it's a good start for them and for everyone who wants to discover the beauty of electronic music!
Report this review (#194493)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Jean-Michel Jarre - Magnetic Fields (1981)

Seventeen minutes of perfect electronic music..

My girlfriend got interested in electronic music and sometimes she buys vinyl (like me) to be able to listen to some music she really likes when she's at my place. So far Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene and Equinoxe were interesting for me, but Jarre was lacking to create a record that did not have it's weak points. This is a trent that continues amplified on Magnetic Fields.

Side one is one big wonderful moment. From the frantic opening moment that is so exciting you can't do something else while listening to it! The recording is fantastic. After the great opening parts Jarre explores the possibilities of using psychedelic elements in his music. Strange samples and sounds create perfect soundscapes and Jarre succeeds in keeping the record interesting for the rest of side one.

Side two is horrible. One failed uninspired experiment after the other. We have the simplest of electronic music and as a grand finally even an Latin piece played on synthesizers. Jarre tries to get an touchy guitar solo emulated on his electronic keyinstruments. This is experiment is among the greatest failures of 20th century music if you'd ask me. Just horrible.

Conclusion. If you download music, only get part one. If you buy cd's don't spend you money on a cd that has only 17 minutes of good music. Fans of electronic music should however explore this first track, for it could be seen as essential electronic music. I myself hate listening to artist that can't even make an average side two. This is the third Jarre record in a row with this problem. Two stars.

Report this review (#252869)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The prog electronic genre delivered some amazing trilogies: TD, Schultze and Jarr for instance. Although I prefer the first two of this list, I have to humbly admit that Jean-Mi holds everything you could expect from a genius in musical terms.

These "Magnetic Fields" are no other than his prior two albums. A long epic divided into several "parts". It could have been like "Bells" or "Rubycon" but the man wanted to have it sliced. And the slices can be easily identified.

I have to agree with other colleagues that the beautiful and long "Part I" is one of his greatest moments (but the man delivered lots of these). It is a sublime travel again. Far away from home, up there.

Great and ambient lines, upbeat and more sonic parts as well, melodic passages, cold but passionate music: you get it all here. For sure that it might not be as complex as some of the greatest German counterpart (JM is not at all as prolific as the ones I have mentioned earlier in this review), but he delivers intelligent and quite approachable soundscapes.

Some sounds from typical of the eighties are also featured, which is maybe not a sign of absolute brilliance, but so were the days. The pop "Part II" is maybe the best known section of this album: not the best one IMO but not bad either. A simple, fun and upbeat synth pop electronic tune.

Some "jungle" electronic prog is available during "Part III". A wet exposure to the rain forest, to his music. A peaceful journey, a fine introduction to the splendid "Part IV" which is all delicacy and harmony.

It's the third very good moment available on this work even if the last third holds more of the repetitiveness of some "Kraftwerk" songs.

I rate this album as high as his prior two ones, although seven out of ten would probably be more appropriate (the poor closing is really difficult to digest). Four stars.

Report this review (#256280)
Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars On Magnetic Fields, Jean Michel Jarre updates his sound to incorporate the latest new synthesisers and techniques, but adapts this to the general compositional approach he had followed since Oxygene. (Part 5 of the album, for instance, is essentially a somewhat cheesier version of the sort of "easy listening outro" he'd tacked onto the end of both Oxygene and Equinoxe.) As such, it forms the end of a trilogy of works which straddle the last days of the analogue synthesiser era and the dawn of the digital synthesiser era; precisely because of this, it's of interest to anyone with an appreciation of the history of electronic music, and it helps that it's a highly enjoyable album in its own right. I think on balance Equinoxe is the best of the trilogy, but I'd certainly recommend this to anyone who liked the previous two albums.
Report this review (#1605197)
Posted Saturday, September 3, 2016 | Review Permalink

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