I no longer listen much to the synth pop I loved in my teens. The artist that has perhaps dropped most dramatically in my affections is Jean-Michel Jarre, largely because I really dug him once. But I still listen to one of his albums with great pleasure: 1984’s Zoolook.

This disc sounds as if the bombastic and sentimental Frenchman has been slipped something ergotoid in his coffee by the sound-effects crew from the first Star Wars movie and then herded into the studio, tailed by Laurie Anderson and two dozen Ewoks. After a spacey opening dirge, things pick up: extraterrestrial party animals titter and croak madly in the background as vocoder and a truckload of primitive synthesizers meld and groove, neatly structured by acoustic percussion and funky slap bass, raï style. It’s psychedelic New Age synthesizer music from a galaxy far, far away: the perfect soundtrack to a Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent comic. On no other disc is Jean-Michel Jarre so charmingly and disarmingly playful.

Update 27 March: Three degrees of Jean-Michel Jarre! The other day I met my buddy Frédéric’s partner John and found out that he went to school with Jarre’s son in Paris back in the 80s!

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  1. #1 Pär
    March 19, 2007

    Interesting. I owned all of Jarre’s works in the late eighties, but grew tired of them and eventually sold them all, save for Zoolook. Incidentally, it was the one album I didn’t really like from the beginning. Listening to it right now, for the first time in years, and still like it.

  2. #2 Martin R
    March 19, 2007

    Yay! From now on, whenever someone questions my opinions, I’ll just say, “Well, you know, my buddy Par thinks so too.” End of discussion.

  3. #3 Hans Persson
    March 20, 2007

    I also used to be a huge JMJ fan, and haven’t listened to him much for the last several years. I devoured everything up to Revolutions (which I think was the first CD I bought).

    I recently started filling in my mp3 collection with stuff I only had on vinyl or tape (Yay BitTorrent!), and thus I have listened to JMJ again a bit lately. I found that Equinoxe and Oxygene are just as great as ever. Zoolook, however, disappointed me a bit. I used to think it was totally weird and strange (and great), but now there was none of that. The magic was gone. It’s still listenable, but no longer great.

    “Jag vill ha en K-pist!”

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