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Jean-Michel Jarre

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Jean-Michel Jarre Zoolook album cover
3.42 | 151 ratings | 10 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ethnicolor (11:40)
2. Diva (7:35)
3. Zoolook (3:42)
4. Wooloomooloo (3:18)
5. Zoolookologie (3:50)
6. Blah-Blah Cafe (3:20)
7. Ethnicolor II (3:53)

Total Time: 37:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Michel Jarre / keyboards, electronics, ethnic vocals processing, producer

Linn LM-1
Linn LinnDrum
Simmons SDS-V
Eminent 310U
Garfield Electronics Doctor Click
E-mu Emulator
Fairlight CMI-II
ARP 2600
EMS Synthi AKS
Moog 55
Oberheim OB-Xa
Sequential Circuits Prophet-5
Yamaha DX7
EMS Vocoder 1000

- Laurie Anderson / vocals (2)
- Adrian Belew / guitar, Fx
- Ira Siegel / guitar
- Frédérick Rousseau / keyboards
- Marcus Miller / bass
- Yogi Horton / drums

Releases information

Much of the album is a study in sampling, constructed from disparate sampled fragments of songs and speech in more than 30 different languages.

Artwork: Mark Fisher (art direction)

LP Disques Dreyfus - FDM 18118 (1984, France)

CD Disques Dreyfus - FDM CD-18118 (1984, France)
CD Disques Dreyfus - DCO 2002 (1985, France) Track 3 remixed by François Kevorkian & Ron St. Germain and track 5 by Rene Ameline
CD Disques Dreyfus - 824 750 2 (1991, France) Remastered (?)
CD Epic - EPC 488140 2 (1997, Europe) Remastered by Scott Hull; tracks 1,2 & 6 w/ new edit (3 & 5 remix 1985)
CD Sony Music - 88875046352 (2015, Europe) Remastered by Dave Dadwater; tracks 1 & 2 w/ new edit

Thanks to AndYouAndI for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JEAN-MICHEL JARRE Zoolook ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

JEAN-MICHEL JARRE Zoolook reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This Jarre's album has a different style, compared to the preceding ones. He combines a mix of futuristic "New Age - New Wave" here, which can be sometimes very irritating. On "Diva", you have a beautiful mellow female voice who seems to talk to herself, through annoying & repetitive children laughs! The song "Zoolook" is made of bad rhythms: it leads to a complete crap! "Wooloomoodoo" has a spacy sound with sequencers. "Zoolookologie" contains that numeric voice effect that was worldwide known during those years! "Blahblahcafe" is pure crap: the keyboards even sound like on Genesis-"The lamb lies down on Broadway"!! "Ethnicolor 2" is probably his most conventional one, made of a floating and dramatic atmosphere. At least, buy the record for "Ethnicolor", the first song: a long, dramatic & progressive piece that takes a while to trigger all its apocalyptic & powerful mood.

3.5 stars

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Different from any other Jarre album, "Zoolook" lived in a totally different world. Jarre used extremely much sampling here, sampling from human voices that Jarre recorded while travelling around the world back in the early 80's, over 30 different languages totally. Notably in the massive opening track, "Ethnicolor" features a lot of voice sampling, backed up with synths and various sound effects. With this feature, Jarre makes this album to an extremely interesting and unique listening experience that is very hard to match up with. The only weak spots here is "Ethnicolor 2", which is not a very bad track, but is a weak ending to this album, and Laurie Andersons vocal contributions on "Diva" which I find a bit annoying. Adrian Belew (of King Crimson and Frank Zappa) plays guitar here and does a very good job!

May be hard to acquire for some. It was my first album by him and I loved it first time I heard it, but some people might get confused or turned off while listening to this album. It needs an open mind and patience. 4.25/5

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars One of the most irritating albums I owned before I decided to kick it out of my house. After excellent "Concerts in China", Jarre produced this album with distinguished guests like Laurie Anderson and Adrian Belew. Alas, he made no effort to compose at least decent and listenable melodies, only ridiculous samples, quasi-experiments and techno- machinery sounds that are so annoying I could not stand more than a few minutes. An unfortunate, typical product of the mid-1980s catastrophic synthetic computerized sound of rhythm machines, naive melodies and "effects" that evaporate quickly.... very poor effort and possibly interesting for JMJ completists only.
Review by russellk
4 stars 'Zoolook' is fun, funky and an excellent departure from the trademark JARRE sound. I can understand why people don't like this album. It's replete with weird vocalisations, courtesy of Laurie Anderson, and will certainly not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you like a dash of 'weird' with your music, have a go at this.

The first seven minutes of 'Ethnicolor' serve as an introduction to the album. The track then bursts into life, and is to my ear the best thing (along with Rendez-vous II) JARRE has ever done. A forceful rhythm, including hammered drums and a funky plucked bass - yes, this is JEAN MICHEL JARRE - are joined by a fabulous synth line at the nine minute mark and the most gorgeous swirly synth exactly on 10:00. Go Jean!

The rest of the album has a similar dynamic. Some tracks are experimental - 'Diva', which title refers to Ms. Anderson and features her trademark laconic voice, if chopped up for the occasion, is one such - and others are the nearest JEAN-MICHEL JARRE gets to rocking out. You'll find something to like and something to laugh at in the second half of the album. Nice guitar work from ADRIAN BELEW, an excellent rhythm section and, well, a little too much vocalising. I find every track on the album bar the below-par and ultimately irritating 'Diva' eminently enjoyable. You gotta enjoy 'Zoolookologie' at the least; enormous fun. Say what you want about the 80s, but production techniques certainly improved. This is very crisp to the ear. What makes it work, ultimately, is the way the artificial synth is complemented by the organic voices. An absolutely essential component of electronic music, to my mind, or the result is cold and sterile.

If you love the smooth synth sound of 'Oxygene', don't come here for more of the same. I warn you, this is different. But different isn't always bad.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Available in 25 languages (including Pigmy, Eskimo and English)

Forever in search of a different angle for his albums, Jarre once again appears more infatuated with the theme than the music on "Zoolook". The sleeve notes boast that the human voices heard on the album "were created (i.e. sampled) from recordings of speech and song". He then goes on to list a plethora of languages which are included, these being "edited and transformed using different electronic devices".

Quite what the point of all this is can be rather baffling. The resulting sounds are largely those of synthesiser music with electronic drum rhythms and sampled vocals. In fairness, in 1984 when the album was released, it would all have sounded quite new and different, although even then it was hardly original. As I implied earlier though, my main gripe with the album is that the musical composition seems to have taken a rather sorry second place to the effects.

"Diva" which features the voice of Laurie ("Oh Superman") Anderson is the least distinguished of the bunch here, her vocal contribution being hacked up and apparently randomly edited back into place. Those who feel that Jarre's albums are too mainstream and wish he would do something more avant-garde should start here!

If the two long tracks on side one were undistinguished, side two's five shorter pieces are distinctly throwaway in nature. "Zoolook" sounds like the theme tune to a TV quiz show while "Wooloomooloo" degenerates into complete gibberish. The synthesiser on "Blah- blah café" has a slippermen like sound, but the track is lifeless and repetitive.

In all, "Zoolook" is a tediously dull album which focuses on the concept to the virtual total exclusion of the music. Those who enjoy the accessibility of much of Jarre's music should approach with particular caution, while those who wish he was less predictable will undoubtedly be surprised.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This "Zoolook" is a dramatic change from musical style for Jean-Mi when you compare this work with his latest three of his albums.

This one is much more on he experimental edge, but the presence of the great Laurie Anderson is not alien to the feel. The great opener "Ethnicolor" is a superb tribute to her talent. Some sort of melody is only present during the last couple of minutes which are offering an explosion, a fireworks of incredible sounds. I really like these.

I can understand that one can be "shocked" while listening to this album, but after all Jean- Mi is playing prog electronic and is allowed to offer some penetration or in-sight into less accessible paths. Which "Zoolook" certainly is.

The next "Diva" starts promisingly but ends up in a funky affair of which Belew can only be a compelling part. The title track might sound too much of an eighties synth song à la "Human League" and can be dismissed therefore. Now, to be fully honest: I won't tell you that it is a great song. Far from it?

All these sampling are not my cup of tea. I believe that Jean-Mi wanted to get back of his roots with this challenging album (as his debut "Deserted Palace" which was also quite experimental).

Don't expect anything as melodic as "Oxygène" or polished as "Equinoxe". This work is quite demanding in terms of open mind. The funky "Zoolookologie" could have been taken out of a "Talking Heads" album. With added synths.

This album is not very good as a whole. A promising opening track, and that's it. This change in musical style was quite unexpected. Experimental electronic prog.

Two stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Zoolook is a bit of a divisive album in Jean Michel Jarre's discography, and justifiably so. Of course, this is the point when Jarre shifted towards incorporating more digital synths in his work, but I actually think he does so quite adeptly and tastefully so the division of opinion seems to be about more than just a nostalgia-addled "it's digital therefore it's bad" backlash. At the same time, Jarre incorporates a lot of synthpop influences into his sound and makes extensive use of sampling, especially vocal sampling, to create something which sounds very distinctive from the progressive electronic suites of earlier hit albums.

Some may find that a turn-off; I consider it key to Jarre's successful adaptation to new synthesiser technologies, and consider this a richly evocative cyberpunk-era collection which, in its own way, manages to recapture the majestic sweep of Oxygene and Equinoxe but evoke it on its own terms, rather than repeating the playbook of those albums.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Although Jarre sounded excellent with analogic synths, with Zoolook he took a great step forward, not only because of the interesting use of digital synths (nothing to do with a lot of synth-crap of mid 80's), but also because of the excellent work with sampled voices. This CD is quite avant-g ... (read more)

Report this review (#168955) | Posted by Jordi Planas | Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My father found some old tapes with J.M Jarre when i was about 6 years old... Then i found them again and started listening to them, and one of them was this. The Song "Zoolokologie" was the theme for a swedish tv show, "hjärnkontoret" in 1998- 1999... that's when i heard it for the first time. ... (read more)

Report this review (#77279) | Posted by | Saturday, May 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The extreme popularization of Jean Michel Guard hair flirte since always with "popularization". No French musical artist was never also universal and like moreover, Jean Michel Jarre never wanted to fix limits at the size of his gigantic show theatrical, he was logically and quickly scorned b ... (read more)

Report this review (#52091) | Posted by religionnaire | Monday, October 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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