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Review: Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygène 3 (released Dec. 2, 2016)

On the 40th anniversary of the release of his original Oxygène album, electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre releases the 3rd installment in the series, simply titled Oxygène 3. Returning once again to the liquid, analogue synth sounds that brought him to world-wide attention 40 years ago, Jarre has crafted a nicely flowing, melodic album of seven pieces that drift one into the next for near 40 minutes of pure electronic music.

On Oxygène 3, Jarre mostly resists the temptation to give into modern electronica sounds (as he did on his last two albums). Although there are a few nods to more contemporary electronica sounds, for the most part he eschews thumping beats and repetitive melodies. What we get instead are deep electronic sequences around which waves of liquid synth wash like water, punctuated with bright melodies and dreamy space sounds that capture the same atmosphere of the original.

Oxygène (1976) was a groundbreaking masterwork for a young musician just starting out his career, a fiercely innovative work that has proven to be highly influential in the electronic music genre. On Oxygène Parts 7-13 (aka Oxygène 2)(1997) he attempt to recreate the vibe of the original album, but with new compositions. Where it succeeded in vibe, it failed somewhat on the compositional level because the pieces were just not that engaging. Oxygène 3, however, succeeds in both those aspects.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing new here in terms of approach or sound. Jarre purposely recorded the album in just 6 weeks, the same amount of time he took to do the original album, and used the same minimal recording approach and the same method of constructing his compositions. Of the three albums, I would say Oxygène 3 comes in as a very strong second.

If you haven’t revisited either of the first two in a while, the ‘trilogy’ has been released as a boxset, but Oxygène 3 is, of course, also available as a standalone release.

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