Monday, December 5, 2016

A Headphone Masterpiece

Jean Michel Jarre : Oxygene Part 6

French composer Jean Michel Jarre created Oxygene, an other-worldly synth album released on December 5, 1976. The son of a famous film composer, Jarre had a studio in the kitchen of the Paris apartment he shared with future wife Charlotte Ramping. There he experimented with synthesizers and tape machines building the tracks that would become Oxygene

In a 2015 interview with Mojo Magazine Jarre was asked if he shared visions with his German electronic contemporaries:

I thought we had opposite visions of electronic music. Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk had a very robotic, mechanical approach. I had a more impressionistic vision -- a Revel.Debussy approach. I was obsessed with the idea that no two sounds on Oxygene should ever be exactly the same. I wanted a heartbeat feel, something human. I also wanted music that had its own European identity , without blues or African roots. When I first heard Kraftwerk, I thought they were an American band singing in German.

It took months of shopping the album around before Disques Motors, an independent label made a deal. Those who bought the album, including a high school classmate of mine, were treated to swirling atmospheric melodies that seemed to float in mid air. Need to escape? Forget Southwest Airlines. Grab a pair of headphones and play Oxygene.

Oxygene , its hit single ("Oxygene, Part 4") and its follow-up, 1978's Equinox, made Jarre the first major electronic music pop star. His shows were high visual and even sexy. In 1979 his Bastille Day concert in Paris drew an estimated one million onlookers, including a bearded Mick Jagger who told Jarre "Man, I never saw anything like that in my life before."

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