Jean-Michel Jarre - Waiting for Cousteau

Album cover

  1. Calypso part 1 (8:23)
  2. Calypso Part 2 (7:10)
  3. Calypso Part 3 (6:30)
  4. Waiting For Cousteau (46:53)

Polygram/Disques Dreyfus, 1990

also by Jean-Michel Jarre:

see also... Tangerine Dream, Tomita, Vangelis

One of the most oddly lop-sided albums I know of, moving from the happy-clappy, outrageously catchy Calypso part I through to an ambient monument. The individual pieces all have their own character, but as a whole it seems to fit together disjointedly.

Calypso Part II is no Caribbean beach, more like industrial cityscape, in the same territory as previous album "Revolutions". It's mostly abstract electronic stuff, with no distinctive hook. There's only a few stray steel drums left over from part I. In the Part III slot he coudn't resist putting a slice of big old romantic orchestral pomp. Not especially interesting, but some might find this rousing, and synth geeks might enjoy dissecting its fat echoey lead sound. Prime stuff for Jarre's city light shows, anyway. No steel drums here whatsoever.

The 46-minute title track is Jarre's first adventure in pure ambient music. The album seems less unbalanced when you consider that this track could have lasted for any length of time from a few minutes onwards. When I originally heard this album I assumed Cousteau was a French philosopher. Now I assume he means the fish-watcher Jacques, I can reappraise it as an dark deep-seascape, with the ever-present surrounding rumble of the sea, glitters of tiny bubbles and plankton, and resonant Eno-style piano pings giving the necessary sense of space.

December 14, 2004

6 out of 10

see also...

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson