Oxygène

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Oxygène
Studio album by Jean Michel Jarre
Released 5 December 1976[1]
Recorded August–November 1976, Paris
Genre Electronica, new-age, ambient, pop, chill-out
Length 39:44
Label Disques Dreyfus/Polydor
Producer Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel Jarre chronology
Les Granges Brûlées
(1973)
Oxygène
(1976)
Équinoxe
(1978)
Singles from Oxygène
  1. "Oxygène Part IV"
    Released: 8 August 1977 (UK)
  2. "Oxygène Part II"
    Released: 1977 (France)

Oxygène (English: Oxygen) is an album of instrumental electronic music composed, produced, and performed by the French composer Jean Michel Jarre. It was first released in France in December 1976, on Disques Dreyfus with license to Polydor. The album's international release was in summer 1977. Jarre recorded the album in his home using a variety of analog synthesizers and other electronic instruments and effects. It became a bestseller and was highly influential in the development of electronic music. It is Jarre's first mainstream success, and can be seen as his first true artist album. It has been described as the album that "led the synthesizer revolution of the Seventies."[2]

Background[edit]

Prior to 1976, Jarre had dabbled in a number of projects, including an unsuccessful synthesizer music album, advertising jingles and compositions for a ballet. His inspiration for Oxygène came from a painting by the artist Michel Granger that was given to him by his future wife Charlotte Rampling. The painting showed the Earth peeling to reveal a skull and Jarre obtained the artist's permission to use the image for this album.

Jarre composed Oxygène over a period of eight months using a number of analogue synthesizers and an eight-track recorder set up in the kitchen of his apartment.[3] However, he found it difficult to get the record released, not least because it had "No singers, no proper [track] titles, just 'I', 'II', 'III', 'IV', 'V' and 'VI'".[2]

The motif of the track "Oxygène Part IV" is a variation on a phrase from "Popcorn" by Gershon Kingsley, which Jarre himself had previously covered under the pseudonyms of "The Popcorn Orchestra" and "Jamie Jefferson".

He eventually found a publisher, Francis Dreyfus, head of Disques Motors (now Disques Dreyfus). Dreyfus was the husband of one of Jarre's fellow-pupils at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales of Pierre Schaeffer, where Jarre had learned to use synthesizers, including the EMS VCS 3, which was to play a major part in the music of Oxygène. Although Dreyfus was initially skeptical of electronic music, he gambled by pressing a run of 50,000 copies. The album went on to sell 15 million copies.[2]

Possibly the most recognised track of Jarre's is Oxygène IV

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In 1997, Jarre produced a sequel album called Oxygène 7–13.[4] This refers to the original album as being the first six movements from a larger complete piece of work, despite the time difference between the release of the two albums. It was written in the same style and using some of the same instruments, although the work is much more uptempo. Jarre was clear about not trying to copy the mood or atmosphere from the original album, but using the same work approach to "create a mood later".

In 2007, Jarre produced a new version of the album, recorded live on a stage, but with no audience, for a DVD release that included 3D video. The title of the new DVD CD set is Oxygène: Live in Your Living Room, with the enhanced CD being called Oxygène: New Master Recording.[4] He used the same instruments, but performed the work with three other collaborators (Dominique Perrier, Francis Rimbert and Claude Samard), rather than overdubbing all parts himself.

The album[edit]

Oxygène consists of six tracks, numbered simply "Oxygène Part I" to "Part VI". Its sound has been described as "an infectious combination of bouncy, bubbling analog sequences and memorable hook lines."[3] The album reached #1 in French charts, #2 in the UK charts and #78 in the US charts.[5]

"Oxygène Part II" was used in the original Chinese version of Jackie Chan's 1978 film Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (蛇形刁手)[6] and Peter Weir's 1981 film Gallipoli.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[8]
Melody Maker average[9]
Music Week unfavourable[10]
NME unfavourable[11]

Reaction to the album upon its release in the UK in July 1977 was largely negative: the British music press, more interested in the developing UK punk scene, was orientated towards guitar-based music and hostile to most electronic music. The NME derided Oxygène as "just another interminable cosmic cruise. The German spacers (Dream, Schulze et al) mapped this part of the electronic galaxy aeons ago... The album's [...] infuriatingly derivative. Explore its prime influences instead."[11] Likening the album to a French version of Mike Oldfield's work, Music Week said, "Unfortunately Jarre has produced a work that is ponderous in its self-conscious musicality – he definitely wears his art on his sleeve. Unlike Oldfield he never stands back and laughs at his own creation. It is heavy throughout, and his influences continually jog the elbow – particularly the lugubrious touches of Mahler and the almost continuous Bach underpinning... some interest will be generated but the album is not really suited to our insular and musically anti-intellectual Anglo-Saxon island."[10] Melody Maker was kinder towards the album, saying, "The first time I heard this album I hated it. It seemed so bland, so undemanding, so uneventful... I've got to admit it repays further listening, and that it is not quite the electronic Muzak I had written it off as initially." The review noted that the album was composed in the same manner as classical music, rather than rock music, and concluded, "On the other hand, Oxygène is not classical music. Though the track the discos are playing [referring to "Oxygène Part IV"] is, as you might expect, actually its least effective section musically, it has the same relationship to popular music as Tangerine Dream, say, or Oldfield. Personally, it still does not impress me as much as either, except at a technical level. It seems to lack heart, the sense of passionate involvement in the act of music-making which makes Edgar Froese's work almost a musical equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting. It is almost too accomplished, too formally precise."[9]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Jean Michel Jarre.

  1. "Oxygène Part I" – 7:40
  2. "Oxygène Part II" – 7:37
  3. "Oxygène Part III" – 3:24
  4. "Oxygène Part IV" – 4:06
  5. "Oxygène Part V" – 10:26
  6. "Oxygène Part VI" – 6:24

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Produced by Jean Michel Jarre
  • Engineered and mixed by Jean-Pierre Janiaud; assistant engineer: Patrick Foulon
  • Mastered by Translab

Cover versions[edit]

  • Hank Marvin covered "Oxygène (Part IV)" on his 1993 album Heartbeat.
  • Hipnosis covered "Oxygène (Part IV)" on their 1983 single Oxigene (also known as Disco Mix).
  • DJs John 00 Fleming and The Digital Blonde covered "Oxygène (Part IV)" as a trance single in 2009. This version has received acclaim from Jarre himself.[citation needed]
  • Vocal recording of "Oxygene (Part II)", was released in 2000, by Serbian rapper Gru, with lyrics "Samo seks Srbina spasava".

Charts[edit]

Chart (1977) Peak
position
French Albums (SNEP)[12] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[13] 10
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[14] 8
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[15] 4
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 3
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[17] 9
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[18] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[19] 2
US (Billboard 200)[20] 78

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
France 5 December 1976 Disques Motors/Polydor LP 2933 207
cassette 3222 215
Europe 1977 Polydor LP 2344 068
cassette 3100 398
United Kingdom July 1977 LP 2310 555
cassette 3100 398
Germany 1983 CD 800 015-2
France 1985 Les Disques Motors LP MLP 1000
CD MCO 1000
United States 1994 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remastered LP MFSL 1-212
remastered CD UDCD 613
Europe 1997 Disques Dreyfus/Epic remastered CD 487375 2
cassette 487375 4
MiniDisc 487375 8
United Kingdom 15 March 1999 Simply Vinyl 180 gram vinyl LP SVLP 072
Europe 25 April 2014 Disques Dreyfus/BMG/Sony Music remastered CD 88843024682

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview with Daniéle Feuillerat". en.jeanmicheljarre.es. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Green, Thomas H. (27 March 2008). "Oxygene: ba-boo-boo beew". The Daily Telegraph (London, England: Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 14 March 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Rule, Greg (1999). Electro Shock!: Groundbreakers of Synth Music. Backbeat Books. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-8793-0582-6. 
  4. ^ a b Edwards, Mark (16 March 2008). "Jean Michel Jarre's return to planet Oxygene". The Sunday Times (London, England: News International). Retrieved 28 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Oxygene Review". 
  6. ^ YouTube
  7. ^ YouTube
  8. ^ Brenholts, Jim. Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène > Review at AllMusic
  9. ^ a b Dallas, Karl (3 September 1977). "Review: Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 22. 
  10. ^ a b "Review: Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Music Week (London, England: Morgan Grampian Publishers Ltd.): 12. 6 August 1977. 
  11. ^ a b MacKinnon, Angus (27 August 1977). "Review: Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène". NME (London, England: IPC Media): 32. 
  12. ^ "Classements des albums par artistes (lettre J) (cliquer sur l'onglet Jean Michel JARRE)". infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygène" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Longplay". Germany: Media Control. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Jean Michel Jarre : Awards". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 

External links[edit]