Oxygene (30th Anniversary)
A PREVIEW BY DR. JONES
Oxygene is 30 years old. For some people, like me, that's hard to believe.
Most of you probably remember the first time listening to it, I remember
it as if it was yesterday.
But now, 30 years later, it's time to celabrate a landmark in musical
history. And such a landmark needs to be celabrated in a big way and that is
what Oxygene 30th Anniversary Edition does: bringing you the ultimate Oxygene.
The release has 3 different formats: CD, CD and DVD and a limited edition,
which we'll not discuss in this review (since I don't have it). The main
package a fan must have is the CD and DVD edition. This has everything
you want if you like Oxygene.
The booklet has several photos of Jean Michel, and close-ups of some
analogue gear. The usual thank yous (with one typo: JMJ thanking Roland
for the Minipops?) and which musicians also played on the album and DVD.
The back of the booklet has an anecdote of Michel Granger, the painter
who made the cover artwork. As you can see, everyone involved in this
project has some input. A thought which is confirmed when watching the
The DVD contains several things: a one hour live performance of Oxygene,
blended with four new tracks, a 5.1 and DTS recording of the original album,
a making of, and a short movie about the instruments used for the live
The concert itself, or rather, the live performance since the audience in this
recording seems non-existant, is a treat to watch, but most importantly, to
listen to. The four players bring a spontanious performance which makes
the whole Oxygene listening experience fresh and exciting to listen to.
Combined with the new tracks, which fit perfectly into the older tracks,
this is a concert many people will play over and over again. The best thing
about the whole live recording is that it really IS live. It's not polished
until perfection, you can hear some playing mistakes, and that, combined with
the spontainity of the musicians is what makes the recording so much more
The new tracks are, with the exception of Variation 3, not structured songs
but more multi layered soundscapes, which the original Oxygene exels
at of course. The intro song is a very soft, moving piece which seamlessly
blends into Oxygene part 1. Oxygene part 3 ends as it starts, with some
distorded chords, which make room for the first variation, a moody track which
sums up the whole A-side of Oxygene. It has elements of all 3 Oxygene tracks.
Variation 2 is also a slow piece with nice improvisations. The more up-tempo
Variation 3 can be heard on several websites already. It's a continuation
of Oxygene part 5, with a synths improvising on sequencers.
The making of shows us the four musicians and what their input is. Yes, this
finally shows us Dominique Perrier talking! The musicians talk about the
Oxygene album, Jean Michel Jarre and how the music is played on stage. A great
insight in how the concert was concieved, with Claude Samard having done
most of the work in writing down the whole album into sheet music.
The instruments video is a wet dream for every analogue synth lover. As with
the whole DVD actually. Jean Michel explains his favorite synths and what they
are used for. The VCS, ARP, AKS, Eminent and lots more are shown and played.
As a bonus, you can also chose the original recording, completely replayed
in surround sound. The stereo version of this recording is on the CD, which
I'll get to later. The video accompanying the recording is the computer
generated skull animation which we saw on Jarre's myspace earlier this
The CD (and the 5.1 recording) sounds clearer, but the differences in general
are more subtle. If you played a track of Tubular Bells 2003, you could tell
it immediately, for this recording you have to listen carefully. And the
album is a bit longer: slightly more than 40 minutes.
And as if it is not enough: there's also some extra online content to be
obtained when you insert your CD in a Windows PC. An application opens a
secret URL which brings you to a website which was not online yet at the
moment of reviewing. But knowing EMI, it's worth looking at, I just
watched the online extras of Pet Shop Boys' Disco 4 album.
Another bonus: I have not yet discovered the music from the menu in the
live performance. An extra short track?
Conclusion: a must have for everyone. Not only die hard fans, but everyone.
This is what music is all about. Oxygene 30th anniversary edition is a worthy
celabration of musical history.