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!