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Oxygene album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released5 December 1976
RecordedAugust–November 1976, Paris
LabelDisques Dreyfus/Polydor
ProducerJean-Michel Jarre
Jean-Michel Jarre chronology
Les Granges Brûlées
Singles from Oxygène
  1. "Oxygène (Part IV)"
    Released: 8 August 1977 (UK)
  2. "Oxygène (Part II)"
    Released: 1977 (France)

Oxygène (French pronunciation: ​[ɔksiˈʒɛn], English: Oxygen) is the third studio album by French electronic musician and composer Jean-Michel Jarre and his first album not intended for use as a soundtrack. Oxygène consists of six tracks, numbered simply "Oxygène Part I" to "Part VI". It was first released in France in December 1976, on the Disques Dreyfus record label licensed to Polydor, with an international release following in the middle of 1977. The album reached number one on the French charts, number two on the UK charts and number 78 in the US charts.[2]

Jarre recorded the album in a makeshift home recording studio using a variety of analogue synthesizers, one digital synthesizer, as well as other electronic instruments and effects. It became a bestseller and was Jarre's first album to achieve mainstream success. It was highly influential in the development of electronic music from that point onward and has been described as the album that "led the synthesizer revolution of the Seventies"[3] and "an infectious combination of bouncy, bubbling analog sequences and memorable hook lines".[4]


Jarre composed Oxygène over a period of four months using a number of analogue synthesizers and eight-track recorders,[4] in his study set up in his kitchen.[5] The drum sounds of Oxygene IV were produced using two presets simultaneously on a Korg Mini Pops drum machine.[6]


In 1976 Jarre saw the 30 cm × 40 cm watercolour painting Oxygène at a Michel Granger exhibition. Jarre bought the painting and told Granger "he'd love to use it as an album cover." Granger described the painting:[5]

That picture is the best known of all my work. It's my Mona Lisa. But I don’t feel like it belongs to me any more. It belongs to anyone who loves the music of Jean-Michel Jarre.


Later Jarre met Francis Dreyfus, head of Disques Motors (currently known as Disques Dreyfus), and husband of Hélène Dreyfus, 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.[citation needed] It was later released on December 5, 1976,[7] although Dreyfus was initially skeptical about electronic music,[citation needed] subsequently decided to release more than 50,000 copies, however, the album went on to sell 15 million copies.[5]

In 1997, Jarre produced a sequel called Oxygène 7–13,[8] an album that using some of the same instruments.[9] 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. 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.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[10]
Record Mirror4/5 stars[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 oriented towards guitar-based music and hostile to most electronic music. Angus MacKinnon of the NME described the album as "[a]nother interminable cosmic cruise. The German spacers Tangerine Dream, Schulze mapped this part of the electronic galaxy aeons ago. The album's infuriatingly derivative. Explore its prime influences instead."[12]

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."[13]

Karl Dallas of Melody Maker was kinder towards the album, saying that "[t]he 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." He later points out that:

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.[14]

The most positive review came from Robin Smith of Record Mirror, in which he stated that "[i]t's pretty tough to communicate warmth through such music and the end result is usually stilted but Jean-Michael Jarre has laid down a variety of forms joined together by cohesive lines."[11] A retrospective review by reviewer Jim Brenholts from AllMusic gave the album a top rating, writing that it "is one of the original e-music albums" and that it "has withstood the test of time and the evolution of digital electronica."[10] The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are composed by Jean-Michel Jarre.

Side one

  1. "Oxygène (Part I)" – 7:39
  2. "Oxygène (Part II)" – 7:49
  3. "Oxygène (Part III)" – 3:16

Side two

  1. "Oxygène (Part IV)" – 4:14
  2. "Oxygène (Part V)" – 10:23
  3. "Oxygène (Part VI)" – 6:20


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

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Release history for Oxygène
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

Use in media[edit]

Several tracks from Oxygène, Equinoxe (1978), Zoolook (1980), Rendez-vous (1986), Revolutions (1988), and En Attendant Cousteau (1990) were used in the film "Palawan: Le Dernier Refuge", a 48-minute documentary in which Jarre worked together with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.[33]


  1. ^ Listed in "A Classic Space Music Countdown to Liftoff: 10 Essential classic space music albums, counting down from 10 to 1" Time Warped in Space by Echoes Radio producer and host, John Diliberto Archived 2007-04-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Oxygene Review".
  3. ^ Green, Thomas H. (27 March 2008). "Oxygene: ba-boo-boo beew". The Daily Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  4. ^ a b Rule, Greg (1999). Electro Shock!: Groundbreakers of Synth Music. Backbeat Books. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-8793-0582-6.
  5. ^ a b c "Jean-Michel Jarre: how we made Oxygène". The Guardian. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  6. ^ Russell Hartenberger (2016), The Cambridge Companion to Percussion, pages 84-85, Cambridge University Press
  7. ^ "Interview with Daniéle Feuillerat". en.jeanmicheljarre.es. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "1997- Oxygene 7-13". Historias del Rock. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Oxygene – Jean-Michel Jarre (Album Review)". Subjective Sounds. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b Brenholts, Jim. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Review at AllMusic.
  11. ^ a b Smith, Robin (30 July 1977). "Review: Jean Michael Jarre – Oxygène". Record Mirror. p. 15.
  12. ^ MacKinnon, Angus (27 August 1977). "Review: Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". NME. p. 32.
  13. ^ "Review: Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Music Week. 6 August 1977. p. 12.
  14. ^ Dallas, Karl (3 September 1977). "Review: Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Melody Maker. p. 22.
  15. ^ Dimery, Robert (5 December 2011). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: You Must Hear Before You Die. Octopus. ISBN 978-1-84403-714-8. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 8275b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Classements des albums par artistes (lettre J) (cliquer sur l'onglet Jean-Michel JARRE)". infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  21. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Charts.nz – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  23. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  24. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  25. ^ "Jean-Michel Jarre | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  26. ^ "Jean-Michel Jarre Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  27. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". Music Canada.
  28. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 17 November 2017. Select "J-Michel JARRE" from drop-down list and click "OK".
  29. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes de CD / Albums "Tout Temps"". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Jean Michel Jarre; 'Oxygene')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  31. ^ "Wyróżnienia – Złote płyty CD - Archiwum - Przyznane w 2017 roku" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  32. ^ "British album certifications – Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Oxygène in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  33. ^ "Palawan, le dernier refuge (Documentaire de Cousteau, 1991) | Aerozone JMJ". aerozonejmj.fr. Retrieved 9 October 2021.

External links[edit]