vendredi 30 octobre 2015

JEAN MICHEL JARRE: Electronica 1- The Time Machine (2015)

“Electronica 1- The Time Machine is indeed a good comeback. The best album from Jarre since Chronology”
1 The Time Machine (with Boys Noize) 3:52
2 Glory (with M83) 3:56
3 Close Your Eyes (with Air) 6:23
4 Automatic. Pt. 1 (with Vince Clarke) 3:09
5 Automatic. Pt. 2 (with Vince Clarke) 2:58
6 If..! (with Little Boots) 2:57
7 Immortals (with Fuck Buttons) 4:30
8 Suns Have Gone (with Moby) 5:46
9 Conquistador (with Gesaffelstein) 3:06
10 Travelator, Pt. 2 (with Pete Townshend) 3:06
11 Zero Gravity (with Tangerine Dream) 6:46
12 Rely on Me (with Laurie Anderson) 2:56
13 Stardust (with Armin van Buuren) 4:38
14 Watching You (with 3D of Massive Attack) 4:05
15 A Question of Blood (with John Carpenter) 3:00
16 The Train & The River (with Lang Lang) 7:13

Columbia ‎| 88875123472 (CD/DDL 69:25) ***½ (Electronica)
There is some excitement in the air. The air of the social networks! I did not want to write a chronicle  about Jean Michel Jarre's last album. The one who was a big magician of sounds and of colors of the sound in the 70s has fell asleep, little by little, as the new millennium directed the art to make EM easily without, or with a little, a knowledge of its roots. Metamorphoses, Sessions 2000, Geometry of Love and Teo and Tea are all adventures which divided the fans of Jarre into three clans; the period pre Zoolook, the one of Rendez-Vous to Oxygen 7-13 and finally the period of Odyssey Through O2 to Teo and Tea. But fans insisted and one of them even send me a promo (thanks Carl) in order to talk, to write about it. So here I am! We heard of this “Electronica 1- The Time Machine” by means of a powerful commercial machine which has crumbled little by little the secrets of the album on the social networks, scattering to the passage the big names which would make part of the project as well as promotional videos. The craze got the upper hand over the curiosity when the name of Tangerine Dream, there is a whole parallel to be drawn here between both careers, fed the conversations of the Internet users which salivated at the idea of this unexpected, to say the least, collaboration. From what I heard and read over the Net, the basic idea behind “Electronica 1- The Time Machine” is to make an overview on EM, ages and styles, through a crowd of artists who were invited to complete the bases of Jarre music. It's a little bit like turning old into new! I found that very conceited. Like if Jarre proclaimed himself to be the Lord of an empire of which he is a pioneer among so many others. An important builder certainly, but a pioneer!
And then the singles came. "Glory", "Conquistador" and "Zero Gravity". A rough draft of cold settles down. Heavy with a big envelope of down-tempo which turns into a mixture of dance and trance, "Glory" and its voices of synth-pop is hardly convincing. That rocks and it's a cheap Electronica, as it occurs to the ton since the beginning of the 90's. "Conquistador" is more convincing and awakes the forgotten skeletons of
Zoolook while "Zero Gravity" and its livestock of sequences which parade at a brisk pace in lamentations of synth perfumed of Chronology and in synth pads and riffs to the fragrances of Hyperborea, we speak about Tangerine Dream here, is sounding terribly cold. But that remains appealing! And we guess that Jarre wants to go farther than his Teo and Tea period. And little by little the whole object comes to light. There will be 16 tracks and 16 artists, who are precursors in their ways dixit Jarre, for 69 minutes of music. We understand here that we have to forget to hear long sonic rivers with interstellar flavor (yes, that still exists). The names are big and give thirst! Air, Vince Clarke, Moby, Pete Townshend, Laurie Anderson, Massive Attack and John Carpenter! Admit that that impresses. But where are Schulze, Vangelis, Kraftwerk, Gottsching (if Townshend is there, Gottsching deserves to be there. Especially when we listen to the result), Eno. Ultimately Bowie! Has-been you will tell me? Then who are Anderson, Townshend and Moby? Still there, if the results were worth the justification. That rather gives the impression that Jean Michel Jarre tries to attract new fans by doors aside. But the final result is a big strike into water.
And I am going to try to put things in perspective. In the end, “Electronica 1- The Time Machine” is a good album. Don't get me wrong. But it's far below from what we could expected from the one who shook the columns of temples twice with
Oxygene and Zoolook. Far below the big names which figure on it. It's lively. Well done and well crafted. There are lots of rhythms. It's the feast of Electronica with airs and arrangements which smell on the other hand the warmed. Imagine a collection of techno, of synth pop or of dance in a packaging of K-Tel and you have a little the result of “Electronica 1- The Time Machine”. I like the way that Jarre lies some samplings of his rhythms of Moon Machine and El Dorado in "The Time Machine", which is a real overview of the career of Jarre in a little less than four minutes (we have to do it and we hear memories of Rendez-Vous and Equinoxe there). It's indeed a catchy, a solid track which makes the mouth water. Afterward we fall in the candy pink with "Glory" and "Close Your Eyes", a beautiful track yes but which always stays in a tiny creative envelope. The segment "Automatic" brings us to the era of the too underestimated Chronology album. It's a good shot! The 2nd part is too much centered on the other hand on the model of electronic disco but that does not deprive it of its numerous attractions. I do not want to speak about "If..!", nor of the very disappointing "Suns Have Gone" where Moby seems to have complexes to work with Jarre The same goes for "Watching You" where Massive Attack's 3D is still looking for himself. Even less of "Travelator, Pt. 2", which is a heavy fusion of rock, trance and techno for terrified zombies. I would have traded Townshend, whom I like a lot by the way, for Gottsching any time! "Rely on Me"? Ouf.... what a waste of time! And "Stardust" belongs to the Ultravox catalog. There is some nice shots! "Immortals" is a superb track which raises the paint out of the walls. There is a deep glaucous atmosphere around this track which gives it a unique cachet. The sequences flicker, the percussions roll and the arrangements are in the tone! The same goes for the very sinister "A Question of Blood" where John Carpenter's genius suits very well to these Halloween style sequences which swirl in all sense. We even accept these growls of guitar. That does very Mark Shreeve, period Legion. "The Train and The River" is doubtless the most brilliant track here. The piano of Lang Lang plots a latent madness which explodes as the atmospheres are more and more torpedoed by attacks of sequences and bangings of electronic percussions. From soft and meditative eaten by heavy and stormy moods which goes towards a very strong electronica, but a very creative one. It's strange, but this is the way I had imagine and hope Jean Michel Jarre to be. For ages!
As you see, I am quite divided. You like rhythms? You like that when it moves, when it rocks? You are going to like this “Electronica 1- The Time Machine”! Me? I would have like that a little more of boldness ("Immortals" and "The Train and The River" are very nice examples) and of creativity. There are of beautiful flashes, but still it feels too much the warmed. A little as if Jarre was tired of reinventing himself and has leave this opportunity to others who in the end also try to renewed themselves. It's the best of
Jarre since Chronology. Which is always good to see!
Sylvain Lupari (October 30th, 2015)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

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