OF JEAN MICHEL JARRE by Stefan Posthuma
Just like about all previous ST NEWS issues, this one is
dedicated to somebody. This time no special girl, but someone
that creates a musical atmosphere that is so great for
programming and computing in general that we just couldn't resist
dedicating an issue to him.
He was born on the 24th of August 1948 in Lyon, France. His
musical family was a perfect stimulant for Jean Michel and he
already played the piano when he was five years old. After
the Conservatory in Paris, he joined the Musical Research Group.
Here, he started his experiments with electronic music. In 1970,
he composed 'The Cage'. His talents were recognized then and 'The
Cage' was performed at the Opera in Paris. Four years later, he
created a musical revolution by truly introducing the Synthesizer
as a real musical instrument by releasing his album 'Oxygene'.
'Oxygene' became a massive hit and over 35 million (!!) copies
have been sold. Of course, a CD containing this superb piece of
synthesizer music is proudly placed in my CD rack. The atmosphere
created by this album is so special that it can hardly be
described. Even the most tough synthesizer-hater cannot do
anything else than admit that it is 'quite good'. Personally, I
think it is brilliant.
The successor to 'Oxygene' is called 'Equinoxe' and resembles
'Oxygene' a lot. The same atmosphere is created and it is equally
as good, maybe even better. It became a hit in 35 countries all
around the world. Together, 'Oxygene' and 'Equinoxe' contain
everything that makes synthesizer music so great. I also believe
that they have laid the foundations for the 'New Age' stream of
music that is currently becoming popular. People like Gandalf and
Kitaro MUST have been influenced by Jarre.
In 1979, the year that 'Equinoxe' was released, he gave his
first concert on the 14th of July, a national holiday in France.
1 MILLION people came to see this concert on the Place de La
Concorde in Paris. This amount gave him a place in the Guiness
Book of Records. Another 100 Million people saw it on television.
After this, he released 'Magnetic Fields'. It also became a
massive hit and entered the popular, jazz and classical charts of
the USA. 'Magnetic Fields' was a little more uptempo than the
first two albums. It contains some rythmical pieces as well as
some sampled sounds like human voices and trains. It still sounds
unique every time I listen to it.
In 1982, he became the first Western rock artist that was
allowed to give five concerts in Mao's China. The concerts were
watched by 30 million viewers on television. The double-album
that was released contains some of the highlights of these
concerts. They contain an unique mixture of typical Chinese music
with synthesizer sounds. They even feature a complete Chinese
orchestra. Also the albums contain some tracks that have been
especially composed for the Chinese concerts like the very
emotional 'Souvenir de Chine'.
In 1983 he shocked the musical industry by making the album
'Music for Supermarkets'. Only one record was made and the
original tapes were destroyed. This wholly unique record was then
sold at a special auction for talented artists. It raised about
40,000 guilders (about 19,000 dollars) and again, he was
mentioned in the Guiness Book of Records.
'Zoolook' (playing right now....great) was released in 1984.
This is a truly experimental CD in which Jarre joyfully plays
with basses, drums and sampled human voices in the most exotic
languages. Sounding very different from his previous work, it is
a surprise and it is brilliant. The digitally recorded CD sounds
After the release of 'Zoolook', he gave a concert in Houston for
1.3 million people. It featured one of the biggest laser shows
ever to be witnessed in the world and the sight of it must have
been breathtaking. The only thing I have seen of it is a very
tiny bit on the news. Sadly, it has never been on TV and there is
no videotape of it as far as I know. If there is anyone out there
who knows where to get a videotape of it (or of any other Jarre
stuff), PLEASE let me know.
In 1986, the Space Shuttle exploded. Among the unfortunate
astronauts was Ron McNair. He was going to record the first piece
of music ever to be made in space. This track, called 'Ron's
Piece' is featured on the album 'Rendez Vous' which Jean Michel
dedicated to the Challenger Crew. 'Rendez Vous' (again) sounds
very different from his previous work. It is almost classical in
its approach. Very heavy organ-like sythesizer sounds dominate
this unique piece of work.
Then he gave another concert, this time in Lyon. Again, it
featured an enormous laser show and a live-album was created,
containg the highlights of the Houston/Lyon concerts. This is one
of the most perfectly recorded CD's I have. When I play this one
and really pump up the volume, the pounding on the drums can be
felt in every fibre of my body. Fantastic.
His last work is called 'Revolutions'. For the first time, Jarre
shows his political involvements. There is one track called
'September' which is dedicated to Dulcie September, a victim of
South African Apartheid. 'Revolutions' can be compared with
'Zoolook'. Again, Jarre is seeking to create unique sounds and I
must say he has succeeded. The overture contains some of the
lowest basses that have ever vibrated my conuses and again there
are some very rhythmical tracks on it with drums and acoustic
bass and guitar (played by Hank Marvin of the Shadows!). Great
was my surprise and joy when I turned on the TV one day and MTV
played his 'Revolutions' video clip.
Jarre's music is timeless. About four years ago, I 'discovered'
him and I still listen intensely to the remarkable sounds. After
I bought my Stereo the first thing I did was rush out to the
shops and buy all Jarre's CD's. You really MUST listen to it on
CD because the crystal-clear sounds are great. Especially Zoolook
and the Houston/Lyon concerts (both digitally recorded) still
manage to give me the goosebumps.
If you have never listened to this music, PLEASE DO. You'll be
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.