Jean Michel Jarre

Téo and Téa

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French electronic music guru Jean Michel Jarre returns to recording after a seven-year studio hiatus. Many have accused Jarre of being in a musical rut since the '90s, but as evidenced by Téo and Téa, he may be retro but he's far from tired. This album includes the bad-ass title track single that has been taking over dancefloors in Europe since the end of 2006; its four on the floor house rhythm is shaded and textured with all manner of narrated voices, programmed analog synths, polythrythms and all manner of slamming, over the top house. Its cheesy sounds blend seamlessly with the more substantive ones. Jarre collaborates with string arranger and guitarist Claude Samard who also uses all manner of digital equipment to get delays on orchestral textures and sonically enhanced analog sounds to behave. Francis Rimbert also plays keyboards, and Tim Hufekn and Anne Parillaud Jarre contributes suitable moans and other signing sounds to "Beautiful Agony." Right, you're getting it. This is not meant to be some new form of classical electronic soundscape; it's designed for the Euro upscale club circuit and it works like a charm. There are any number of tracks, including the two aforementioned, that qualify for extensive remix treatment. "Touch to Remember," with its computerized sci-fi vocal samples, is more constitutionally Jarre, but there is that subtle breakbeat to bring it up to date with all the whizzing, drifting keyboards and sequenced, keyboard-programmed rhythmic loops. "Partners In Crime, Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2" are a mirrored pairing of each other, one fully orchestrated, one a kind of dub version, both with corrosive breaks. "Melancholic Rodeo," and "Téo & Téa 4: 00 A.M." close the album out on a high note with strange, shimmering backdrops, trancelike beats and angular synth lines with an 808 slipping around the backdrop of each lending that beautifully cold retro feel. The former contains a treated guitar solo that carries the track into its territory on this set and makes it indispensable; it's a multi-layered near-rock moment that is covered over in sheets of sound and rhythms that take it radically out of context. There are a pair of brief throwaways acting as segues that mar the album's surface, when the final shattering angular house remix of the title track goes out on an extended high note, there's nothing left to do but gasp in pleasure. Téo and Téa is a better recording that we had any right to expect, Europhiles will be ecstatically happy; Amerikanski's may find a kind of kitschy pleasure in most of it, but it's a winner nonetheless. [The album was also released with a bonus DVD.]

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