Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Images – Jean Michelle Jarre [#612]

Images - Jean Michel Jarre

Not available in the UK

Having now swapped to the more hard drive friendly Apple Music, when writing entries for the music project, I often try to do research by listening via my iPhone through my car stereo while driving to and from work. This usually works well for the more mainstream bands in the collection but sometimes I’ll have difficulty locating the album on Apple Music because of “Licencing Laws” which I feel is a bit of a bugger because I have the CD!

Images is a “best of” compilation of Jarre’s work. It is the last CD I ever bought from the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now the awesome Clas Ohlson) during a 5 for £20 mega sale. Isn’t it a shame that streaming media providers like Apple Music and Amazon don’t do the good old “5 for £20” deals? Instead, they sting you for music you already own. Meh.

Jarre is one of those artists whose music screams 1970s hauntology. In fact, I’d probably hazard a guess at him being an influence on the likes of Belbury Poly, Focus Group and other Ghost Box stalwarts. To me, if it isn’t the expectation of hearing the hum from my father’s stereo’s badly earthed amplifier or the memory of the cassette tape with the picture of the weird skull/bleeding Earth picture on the front, the 1970s is this type of music. The tracks on this album are pretty similar to those on Essential and Aero, indeed, this is just simply a record label’s attempt to cash in on some hapless music nut wanting a bargain in a 5 for £20 deal.


Essential Jean Michel Jarre – Jean Michel Jarre [#432]

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 11.55.04<sigh> I really could re-use the “Essential/Essentially” gag here too as Essential is, essentially the first Jean Michel Jarre Best of Compilation. But I won’t because re-releasing old material as new stuff is so 1990s it’s unbelievable.

And lazy.

Aero, Essential is a kind of “Best of” revisited. Nice if you want to relive the cardigan wearing, garish carpeted childhood of the 1970s. Nicer still if you just want to pop some acid with your hipster friend while staring at their Mathmos glooping and shlooping about on the table.

It’s kind of thought provoking that this music evolved into Air.


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Équinoxe – Jean Michel Jarre [#429]

Equinoxe_Jarre_AlbumHaving been brought up in the nineteen seventies and having two older brothers who had been brought through the future yearning decade of the nineteen sixties on a diet of Doctor Who and the promises of holidays on the moon and jet packs, it is no wonder that Jarre features heavily on the music project.

Having listened to Équinoxe for the first time since possibly 1988 I was struck by how Jarre’s music still causes ASMR in me.  From remembering the feeling of the sofa of my childhood, to recalling the scent of my father’s aftershave and the nu-electriconicz smell of the 1970’s record player. All these memories came flooding back. Moreover by the time part IV had started I was already considering nipping upstairs to put on some orange or brown clothing to fully immerse myself in 1970s popular culture.

Equinox was Jarre’s fourth studio album fresh on the heels of Oxygene. While it appears to not have been received well by music critics of the time, the album has proliferated itself into generation X’s collective subconsciousness having, in part, been featured on every futurism, “science” and schools and colleges related television programme between its release and 1986. In fact, I challenge anyone between the ages of 35 and 45 to listen and not think of the likes of Jonny Ball or video sequences of robotic production plants.


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Destination Docklands – Jean Michel Jarre [#365]

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 19.15.12For someone who isn’t a fan of French electro musician Jean Michel Jarre, I seem to have a fair few of his albums.

This is the album of the performance that my brother told me that I should watch when it was on the telly because ancient law stated that I must like Jarre. It was the same brother that insisted that it was a once in a lifetime futuristic event because Jarre would be playing laser harps and in the future we would all be playing laser harps. Playing laser harps and going to the moon on holiday with our jet packs.

Nearly 27 years later we’re still waiting for laser harps, jet packs and holidays on the moon. Instead I settle for driving to Wales on my holiday in my Golf with my musical instrument of choice the human body (mine). Jarre on the other hand is pretty much the same.

And that’s the problem.


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Concerts in China – Jean Michel Jarre [#301]

The_Concerts_in_China_Jarre_AlbumJarre spreads European culture and music technology to the exotic Far East by playing gigs in Beijing and Shanghai then brings back a little bit of Chinese culture and musical influence to the West.

This album is a live, yes a live, compilation best of thing. Just like all the other live best of compilations in this project only this time, to make it different, you know it’s recorded in China. Wow! Actually in CHINA!

Sure there are a few “Concerts in China” specific tracks on the album but the bulk is just live versions of tracks from previous albums recorded in China. It also sees Jarre whip out his laser harp. I even remember my brother telling me to watch Jarre play the laser harp on TV because it was a groundbreaking, never to be seen again, instrument.  Earth shattering never happened, Jarre went on to do more albums and laser harps will never beat seeing the Gamelan play live in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.


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Chronologie – Jean Michel Jarre [#271]

CHANGES+IN+MINDChronologie – Jean Michel Jarre

Hello, another guest post here from Steelrattus.

I first encountered Jean Michel Jarre as a teenager. I was very fortunate in that my mum worked at a library, so it meant I took a particular interest in books. Then in the 80s libraries started to have cassettes, and later on CDs. This meant I could listen to a lot more music than my pocket would normally afford, and I could also experiment a lot more. This is where I first strayed across Jean Michel Jarre. I wasn’t really aware of him being a popular artist – if his albums were in the charts I didn’t notice – although later on as an adult I realised he was pretty popular.

For those who have not listened to Jarre before, his music is synthesiser based. But there is, or at least was, something quite special about it. He did something different with it, weaving together a mixture of sound effects and music to create his own unique style. I’m not aware of anyone who has copied him, or anyone that he copied, but I suppose the most similar artist I can think of is Vangelis, yet he’s still markedly different. In my opinion Jarre has also managed that tricky balance of keeping a style, yet making each album different enough to be interesting.

Chronologie is Jarre’s eleventh album. For me it fits in with a chain of others, starting with Oxygene (his third album), and leading on to Equinoxe, Magnetic Fields, Rendez-vous, Revolutions, and then Chronologie. These particular albums all had a rather epic feel and a thread that runs through them. I hadn’t realised Jarre had released two albums before Oxygene, but I’m guessing there is a reason why I have never heard of them – every musician needs time to reach their best. There are other albums in-between these, such as Music for Supermarkets and Zoolook, but I don’t feel they fit the particular style of this list of six albums.

I again have to thank Richard-from-University for bringing me back to Jarre. Richard was also a Jarre fan, and he acted as a reminder to revisit the albums I’d loved as a teenager. Chronologie in fact came out when I was at university (release in 1993), so reminds me of those times a little.

I won’t give you a very VERY detailed analysis of the album itself. It’s eight tracks, simply named Chronologie Part 1 through to Part 8, which is typical of Jarre. As it’s purely instrumental Jarre also doesn’t give away any clues in terms of inspiration as such. The only real clue is the album name, and time does feel like an inspiration. More on that in a minute. I’m not sure what the cover art is supposed to represent, there are five figures traced in different colours. The first track on the album builds from nothing with a heartbeat, which is one link to time. Other tracks have fades with clocks ticking and chiming, reminding me a little of the Chronos theme from Ulysses 31. There are even what sound like the bleeps of digital watches used as rhythm in places. Overall I remember this album feeling a little different than his previous, a little more modern, and there are parts which could quite legitimately be danced to in a club. The album ends with a countdown, again set against the backround of ticking clocks and a heartbeat. Overall I really like the album, like most of Jarre’s music.

Reading about the album I learned the source of inspiration was Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, so there’s the time connection. Apparently Parts 4 and 5 started as compositions for a Swatch advert, although I don’t know whether they were ever used. I was also under the impression that Jarre played everything on his albums, but this one at least had four other musicians, three of them playing keyboards, and one the guitar.

I had no idea that videos existed for the album, but this is apparently a promotional video that was created for Part 4. Not exactly a great video but (a) curiously it features that save five figure theme from the cover art (b) it features Jarre looking moodily at the camera, and (c) the music’s good.

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Aero – Jean Michel Jarre [#57]

urlAero – Jean Michel Jarre

Do you remember the 1970s? Do you remember those pristine vinyl records your elders kept lovingly in their sleeves. Tentatively taking the black discs out of their paper sheaves, popping them religiously onto the turntable and carefully lowering the stylus onto the run in?

Do you remember the smell?

Do you remember?

Jean Michel Jarres music takes me back immediately to that time. I can still hear the hum from the badly earthed amplifier, the smell of the vinyl and the visualisations of the mind where I’m transported from the chintz filled sitting room to the far off reaches of outer space.

You know the type of outer space I mean don’t you? The kind that resembles cosmic Mathmos lava lamps. Nebulae, misty clouds of cosmic matter, blipping and blopping (yes they are actual verbs). The kind of outer space that wouldn’t be amiss from a remake of Barbarella or some science programme with Jonny Ball. The kind of Roger Dean outer space with weird aquatic astral creatures and bloopiness.

Aero, is a kind of “Best of” revisited. Nice if you want to relive the cardigan wearing, garish carpeted childhood of the 1970s. Nicer still if you just want to pop some acid with your hipster friend while staring at their Mathmos glooping and shlooping about on the table.

It’s kind of thought provoking that this music evolved into Air.


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