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A return to a more familiar structure after the flights of fancy on "Zoolook", but this time on that favourite theme of electronic and prog musicians - outer space. It has a poignant twist to its story, as the final piece was composed for saxophonist Ron McNair to play in the ill fated Challenger space shuttle. In retrospect, this mournful tune is given a particularly disturbing slant by its constant, finally-fading heartbeat.
The live favourite Part II sees Jarre at his most in-your-face and most endearing. Starting with a tune as subtle as a car alarm, we continue to be bashed over the head with a symphony chorus, several stadium-sized lasers and that sequence of minor chords that Jarre has made all his own. Breathtaking for some, infuriating for others, I'm firmly on the former side, and enjoy this shamelessly over-egged music with a grin. The other great epitome of Jarre featured here is Part III, a little concerto for the flamboyant Laser Harp, an impressive instrument with "strings" made from arse-kicking big lasers. Fantastic idea, but it's the sort of thing that can only be done once convincingly!
There's even a synth instrumental pop song in that old familiar Jarre style. Look on it as music for action game shows, as a simple tune for people to learn keyboards to, or just as a plain good tune. Like on "Magnetic Fields" the mid-side-2 slot is for the most experimental section, this time a trilogy of test-piece for a new gloopy synth sound, a music-circus of urban activity, and a vigorous polyrhythm workout. The keening saxophone lament of "Ron's Piece" forms a chilling but dignified coda.
December 19, 2004