Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène (1976)

Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène (1976)

Setting up his analog synthesisers and various effects generators throughout his kitchen, French electronic composer Jean Michel Jarre home-recorded this landmark album when—besides the slow growing popularity of German bands Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream—there really wasn’t much of a commercial market for electronic music. Little did he know it would go on to sell millions. It would go on to become a classic, and help define and influence the future genres of Electronica, Ambient, Techno, New Age, Trance, Drone etc. Way ahead of it’s time, yet also completely bound by the nascent technology, it remains a very cool listen today. It’s instantly recognisable to most Australians due to its use in Peter Weir’s memorable 1981 film Gallipoli. And even though the film is set in 1915 and follows the fate of two young friends amid the bloodshed of WWI, the thoroughly modern music (of the time) somehow suited the film perfectly, and became as recognisable as any image from the film. The film made great use of the pings! and pows! that pepper “Oxygène (Part II)”, and gave it a context that I’m sure Jarre could never have imagined. Suddenly the sounds became ricocheting bullets and the dull bass beat became the pounding hearts of the terrified young men in the trenches. Over the top of it all was the synth-strings shadowing everything with a spooky veil of breathy cyber-Adagio atmosphere. So whether it’s listening intently through the headphones or slapped on in the background, it’s well worth 40 minutes of your time.


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