Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: Sin
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Last year’s album of collaborations with the great and good of electronic music saw Jean-Michel Jarre pair up with Air, Vince Clark, Tangerine Dream and Moby. On this companion piece he teams up with the likes of Jeff Mills, the Orb, Yello and Sebastien Tellier, and again seems energised and inspired by the collaborative process. Brick England is dourly tuneful Pet Shop Boys, Peaches is sneeringly assertive on What You Want, and Here For You, featuring Gary Numan, has a real whiff of synthpop circa 1980 – but all are afloat on flowing patterns that bear the unmistakable stamp of Jarre.
The power of music to help overcome adversity is astonishing at times. The Electronica project has enabled Jean-Michel Jarre to deal with a difficult period in his life, losing both of his parents and his publisher in a short space of time. Clearly that adds significance to an already personal release, but what does it do for his reputation as a pioneer in the field of electronic music? A good deal, as it turns out.
Jean-Michel Jarre's two-part Electronica series finds the French synthesizer guru in full-on Santana circa Supernatural mode, collaborating with a vast array of guest musicians ranging from veterans to younger artists. The second volume, released seven months after 2015's inaugural The Time Machine, is titled The Heart of Noise in reference to Italian futurist Luigi Russolo's 1913 manifesto The Art of Noises. Jarre has a keen ear for collaborators, ranging from his '80s synth pop peers to 21st century techno artists whose work carries on the legacy of his past innovations.
Emerging in the mid-'70's, Jean-Michel Jarre was part of wave of musicians that were incorporating synthesizers, tape loops and state-of-the-art effects systems into pop-leaning forms. Unlike his mentor Pierre Schaeffer and his peers in the avant-garde and academic communities, Jarre married sweet, hummable melodies and traditional European harmonies to star-gazing soundscapes, making electronics seem safe and inviting to the masses. To some, this was tantamount to treason; one of electronic music's first manifestos, written by Luigi Russolo in 1913, demanded composers “break at all costs from this restrictive circle of pure sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds.