Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygene 7-13

Album cover

  1. Oxygene 7 (11:41)
  2. Oxygene 8 (3:54)
  3. Oxygene 9 (6:13)
  4. Oxygene 10 (4:16)
  5. Oxygene 11 (4:58)
  6. Oxygene 12 (5:40)
  7. Oxygene 13 (4:27)

Sony, 1997

also by Jean-Michel Jarre:

see also... Tangerine Dream, Tomita, Vangelis

Here Jarre followed Mike Oldfield's lead in resurrecting his most famous brand for a new phase of his career in the 90s. But while Oldfield used his old Tubular Bells as a template for a set of not too-distant variations on the original themes, Oxygene parts 7-13 are all new content. As the numbers suggest, it's more like just the next in a series of abstract synth suites from Jarre. It recalls the spirit of the first Oxygene in its sound and construction, but there's no reworking or one-to-one mapping from its ancestor.

He uses contemporary synth technology very subtly, with only a few dancy loops here and there. Mostly it's built from the lush analog synth sounds, those whizzes and shimmering sweeps which dominated the original. The gently pulsing bassline of part 7 is virtually the same as that of his most famous hit, Oxygene part IV. But it seems as if the point wasn't to put a modern gloss on his old style, but to show how he can always make warm, organic electronica with whatever means are around. While there's a large element of retro here, it seems wrong to call this dated, as Oxygene parts 1 to 6 were so futuristic!

The four-note tune presented as bare blips at the start of part 7 sets a seed for much of the material on the suite. Part 8 is the closest thing to a single here, but it is not as gnawingly poppy as Jarre's singles usually are. The booming bass plunges and dynamic extremes of part 9 show Jarre in traditional laser-show theatrical mode. A crisp and straightforward tune on part 10 leads to the Orbital-like abstract dance of 11 and 12, concluding with a simple and wistful minor-key finale.

January 24, 2005

7 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson