Jean Michel Jarre

The Complete Oxygene

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Fans looking for something extra from The Complete Oxygene shouldn't get worked up. This is simply both albums -- the original Oxygene released in 1977 and Oxygene 7-13 issued in 1997 -- in a slipcase box. That said, these two albums are seminal electronic recordings, very different in sound and approach given how much technology changed in the 20 years between the first and second entries. The later recording may be more comfortable for those familiar with the work of 777 or Sven Väth in the late '90s, while the earlier one may appeal to those who were deeply entrenched in the work of Klaus Schulze in the late '70s. What makes these albums so enduring, however, has little to do with technology: it's the deep focus of the composer, his sense of presenting two different but unified bodies of work that make up the dark and light sides of an idea. The earlier material is full of open sweeping expanses that hint at the transcendent, where rhythm and pulse are a part of the architecture, but not at its foundation. The latter set is exactly the opposite. The individual parts are seemingly accidents here; they all come together in the moment where knotty rhythms and concurrent sequences stack on top of one another, moving forward more quickly, while at the same time being denser. It makes everything more kinetic. Taken as a whole, it is an enduring work that may not reach the same heights that his Zoolook did, but that was a singular moment -- most artists only get one of those. Oxygene is still a masterpiece of unified technological vision that marries the very heart of musicality to its expression.

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