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Jarre's contribution to the digital late-1980s era of electronic music was a real odd-bod of an album. Its urban themes are strangely executed with a side-long suite accompanied by a mish-mash of peculiar short pieces. It doesn't really come across as a coherent whole, and neither does it have any real Jarre classics.
Although the looped metal clanking on the "Industrial Revolution" overture seems to have entered my consciousness - if I was asked to make some "industrial" sounding music I'd find it difficult to avoid copying this. Not sure how original it was, it was just probably the first I heard like that. Though it seems a relatively clean and polite factory - it's no Trent Reznor. The workers are probably comfortable and well paid. The other three parts to the suite are typical imposing Jarre tunes, choppy octaves and grey urban landscapes.
The mish-mash of Side 2 is spoiled by a couple of real howlers. Firstly, Jarre brings in Hank Marvin for the drippy tune "London Kid". A guitar god from the days before people had learnt to play those new-fangled electric guitars properly, he twangs away soullessly here, and not even the toe-curling key change at the end can add excitement. The other mistake, "September", featured a chorus of drugged-sounding kids chanting "na-na-na" to a brain-addling repetitive tune. Probably supposed to be all innocent and African, but just sounds fake. "Computer Weekend" is a similarly irritating, idiotically happy calypso-flavoured synth tune.
Its redeeming gem to me is "Revolutions", although I grant it might annoy other people. Its engaging techno bassline is an enjoyable backing for that silly computerised voice intoning "employment? no employment" and such like, and Indian-style strings. "Tokyo Kid" isn't bad either, adding some jazzy Eastern piping to its percussive electronica. But "The Emigrant" is one of his less interesting grand orchestral finales. It's incredibly frustrating when a musician tries to draw us along with a grand climax that has lots of noise but little power.
December 9, 2004