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