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Jean-Michel Jarre is one of those truly incredible pioneering artists. The electronic genius, ambient great, producing master and live legend has carved a path in popular music through spectacle and synth sound unlike anyone else. He returns with a collection of new music in over eight years in the form of a collaboration album with fellow electronic artists including Moby and Air.
A risky move, maybe. Let’s see.
Opening track The Time Machine starts out as classic Jarre before turning very electronic and evolving with a groove beat. This collaboration with Boys Noize manages to flirt between all the eras from early 80s right up to the here and now. With that distinct piano-like bass sound Jarre is well known for forming the backbone of the song.
M83 and Jarre add dreamy vocals to second track Glory; a pounding and driving song with some catchy chorus play worthy of Coldplay at their very best.
Close Your Eyes is more Air than Jarre as it weaves from smooth keyboards, piano and the fuzzy computer-like singing Air have conquered over the years, throwing in some strange sonic doodling over its six minutes.
The two parter, Automatic, featuring Vince Clarke, is Jarre music for 2015. The sudden music changes, mixed with his unique synth sound and rhythm structure is instantly recognisable in part one before it really kicks up a gear in part two and verges on becoming a dance classic.
If, a joyous gorgeous little pop song with Victoria Hesketh on vocals, is distraction enough from the electronic coldness and offers a welcome slice of happiness.
Immortals on the other hand, is dark and defiant. A thick simple tune that builds with power and strength before turning into an industrial soundscape, then returning to the bombastic, almost soundtrack like sound. Possibly the albums finest track, Jarre and Fuck Buttons song is a true midway stamp on the entire album.
Following that, Moby crops up and does what Moby does. Suns Have Gone floats along and could have come from any of Moby’s albums; very much more Moby than Jarre.
Conquistador is slow heavy metal in electronic form. Gesaffelstein inject some meat, bones and hardness into an eerie, almost heavenly synth sound, shifting the album’s style again.
Elsewhere, Pete Townsend snarls and growls on Travelator (part 2); a strange collaboration which just about works. Tangerine Dream mix The Thing type bass sounds with Pink Floyd Shine On You Crazy Diamond style keyboards and Vangelis like Blade Runner musings to great effect on Zero Gravity. Stardust is a trance like tune full of energy and force, Armin Van Buuren escalating the track to the dizzy heights of production and value. And, horror master John Carpenter lends his talent to A Question Of Blood, a creepy atmospheric track that sounds exactly like you would have imagined.
Does it all work?
Well, yes and no. Some of the tracks (as I have stated) are more catered towards the collaborator instead of the collaborated and there is nothing as instantaneous and ground-breaking as Oxygene… but that’s not surprising. Also, it would have been interesting if bands like Daft Punk or Aphex Twin collaborated with Jarre. Although, you never know, they may crop up on the Electronica 2 album.
Overall, Jarre is still the master in his field and this album shows he has still got it… Now, roll on the live shows!!!
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